There are two laws that are being discussed in more and more states that are aimed at preventing deaths of people who overdose.
When someone OD’s on an opioid (like heroin), time is of the essence. The situation can quickly escalate to become life-threatening if emergency personnel isn’t (or can’t be) called to the scene right away.
One of these laws is referred to as the Good Samaritan law. The other law is about allowing a wider distribution of a drug called Naloxone. Doctors and advocates in the public health arena are pushing to have these laws passed in more states so that more lives can be saved.
Good Samaritan Law
Many states around the country are beginning to pass “Good Samaritan” laws. These are laws that would allow people to call 911 to get help for a person who has OD’d, without fear of being charged with certain offenses.
An unfortunate scenario that happens too frequently is that a person OD’s, but the people surrounding them are afraid to call 911. In too many cases, their friends are afraid of being arrested due to the drug and associated paraphernalia in the home. All too often, those people spend time cleaning up the illegal activity before they call the authorities for help.
Another common scenario is that the authorities are called, but the people who called them are afraid to admit that opioid use is the reason the person is unconscious.
In many cases, those precious minutes can be the difference between life and death for the person who has suffered the OD.
Another law that is trying to reduce the number of deaths related to opioid overdose is to allow the wider distribution of Naloxone. This is a medical drug that serves as an antidote for someone who has OD’d on opioid.
In most states, this is a drug that can only be given by a medical professional. However, there is a push to give doctors the ability to give a prescription to family members or anyone else who may be in close proximity of someone at risk of ODing.
Naloxene is similar in nature to the way an EpiPen works. They both stop the body from continuing down a road that will lead to serious brain damage and even death if the process is not interrupted.
This is a critical situation all over the country, however it can become even more important in rural areas where help for medical emergencies is much farther away.
These Programs Save Lives
Many studies have been completed that show that programs like these can save lives. The most recent one was done in Massachusetts. This showed a 46% reduction in deaths caused by opioid overdose in communities where naloxone kits were distributed.