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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Samaritan Laws

People overdose from drugs every day, usually resulting in death. It is often the case that when someone overdoses they are not alone; there is usually someone around to witness the event. Unfortunately, when an overdose takes place those who witness it are afraid of being charged with a crime, either for possession or for distributing the drug that caused someone’s overdose, so they decide to leave the scene - everyone for themselves type scenario. It is rare that the witness will take the person who overdoses to the emergency room for help. New laws are being instituted, called Good Samaritan Laws, which provide immunity for all those involved from legal charges in an effort to save peoples’ lives.

An overdose is not always fatal, if help is received in time; the person who overdoses has a chance at survival. At the University of Washington, a research team is studying the impact of Washington State’s Good Samaritan law, which provides this legal immunity and also allows the prescribing of an opioid antidote medicine, naloxone (Narcan), to drug users and their partners. About 15 other states also have programs to distribute naloxone, the drug helps a person who has stopped breathing because of an opiate drug overdose (heroin or prescription-type opiates) to breathe more normally.

Good Samaritan Laws are being put into effect in New York and New Mexico as well. The more states that jump on the band wagon, the more lives that will be saved. There is no reason why addicts should have to fear prosecution if they or their friend overdoses. Addicts are not criminals; they suffer from a disease that can be treated if the right steps are taken. If you are suffering from addiction and witness an overdose, you have the power to save their life either by picking up the phone or administering Narcan.

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