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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Overdose Deaths = Homicide ?

While addiction continues to be looked at in a different light, away from being a crime, dealing illegal drugs is still very much a punishable offense in the United States. With greater concern about overdose death rates, there are some who feel that overdose deaths should be looked at as homicide or murder. Those whose drugs can be linked to an overdose death potentially face such charges in some parts of the country.

Looking at drug dealing that results in overdoses as homicides may have unintended effects, just as doctors have no control over how their patients use prescription opioids - neither do those who sell illegal drugs. Nevertheless, both prescription opioids and heroin have the same potential of leading to an overdose. This begs the question, should doctors be held accountable in the same way as illegal drug dealers? It is question that is extremely difficult to answer.

That being said, for the time being drug dealers should fear the unintended consequences of their sales. The Northeast continues to confront some of the highest overdose rates in the country, and some health experts and district attorneys feel that overdose deaths are murder. In Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, the county coroner has started ruling overdose deaths as homicides, the Associated Press reports. Coroner Charles Kiessling Jr. says that drug dealers are murderers.

In the past, Kiessling followed standard protocol and labeled overdose deaths as accidental, according to the article. After seeing a 13 percent rise in overdose deaths in just one year, the coroner believed that relabeling overdose deaths as murder would raise awareness about the opioid epidemic. This year, Kiessling has labeled one overdose death as a homicide, and potentially four more - given that toxicology reports come back as expected.

"If you chose to sell heroin, you're killing people and you're murdering people. You're just as dead from a shot of heroin as if someone puts a bullet in you," Kiessling told The Daily Item of Sunbury.

Please share your thoughts with us, should drug dealers whose products lead to overdose deaths be treated as murderers?

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