There were 71,000 fatal drug overdoses in the US in 2014. Roughly 2/3 of these (47,000 deaths) involved opiods, rather than heroin, cocaine or other substances. To put that in perspective, there were 13,472 murders in the US in that year.(2) Yes, opiod addiction is a big deal.
Opiod overdose requires immediate treatment. Those overdosing are usually not alone, but companions may be afraid to call 911 for fear of arrest and prosecution. Some states, primarily in the Northeast, have passed “Good Samaritan” laws exempting callers from prosecution, but the level of protection provided by these laws varies from state to state. Vermont provides expansive protection. Ohio has limited protection, excludes those on parole from being Good Samaritans, and provides loopholes that can enable other prosecutorial action.
Here’s another drug war we can lose.
Ad hoc, fragmented, uncoordinated state laws accomplish nothing expect filling for-profit prisons and increasing taxes. Punishment for addiction makes little sense. Rehabilitation is nonexistent.
- Steven H. Linder, MD; Kathryn K. Hodge, MD; Evan M. Baker, PharmD; Lisa C. Huang, MLS, “Opioid Overdoses: Prosecution Risk and the Need for Naloxone,” Medscape, 26 July 2017. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/883080?src=wnl_mdplsnews_170728_mscpedit_wir&uac=153634BV&impID=1399244&faf=1