Many witnesses of overdose don’t call 911 due to the fear of facing legal ramifications for their own drug use or possession.
How Good Samaritan Laws Save Addicts from Overdose and Promote Treatment
Opiate addictions are very serious matters, but perhaps nothing is more tragic than a drug overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the rate of overdose among prescription opioid and heroin users are both increasing at a rapid pace. Thousands of people die from accidental drug overdoses every year.
Recently many states have enacted so-called “Good Samaritan” laws. So far, 20 states and the District of Columbia have 911 Good Samaritan laws on the books, policies which offer limited immunity for those who do call the cops on an overdose in progress. There’s no question that quick medical attention during overdoses saves lives. First responders often carry naloxone, a fast-acting drug that reverses the effects of opioids in an emergency. After such a significant wake-up call, the next call you should make is to get help at (800) 407-7195.
Why Many People Don’t Call 911 During an Overdose
Heroin is illegal in every state and every user knows it. Abusing prescription opiate medication is also illegal in many cases, particularly because many prescription abusers obtain their drugs without valid prescriptions. Many drug users do so in the company of other drug users, who may witness an overdose in progress. But people often fear calling 911 when they witness an overdose because they’re afraid of getting caught with their own drugs.
Good Samaritan laws overcome one of the main hurdles of calling for help by offering limited protection to those who call. The most important goal is ultimately to save lives and encourage people to do the right thing when they witness an overdose.
What Happens After Surviving an Overdose
The immediate effects of an overdose are very physically unpleasant. Vomiting and diarrhea are common. Many people have sweating, heart racing, disorientation and agitation. Some people even experience hallucinations, paranoia and seizures. Unfortunately, many overdoses end in death.
For those who survive a drug overdose—often thanks in part to timely administration of Narcan (naloxone) to reverse the effects—the long-term effects can be variable. Hospitalization is usually required and the patient may go through procedures such as IV fluids and kidney dialysis to flush the remaining drugs out of their system. The first 5 days or so after an overdose are still a high-risk period when the patient faces the possibility of further organ and brain damage.
Starting Treatment after Overdose
An opiate overdose often serves as a very serious wake-up call for drug addicts. Understandably, many families are terrified during this time because the consequences of the addiction are painfully clear. An overdose drives home the message that addiction is truly a matter of life and death.
Hospitalization after an overdose is the perfect time to begin a medically supervised detox period from the drugs. Once you have gone through the detox period, you can move to an appropriate narcotics addiction treatment program. An addiction treatment program is generally much longer than detox: whereas detox is only a few days, treatment programs can be weeks or months long.
In a narcotics addiction treatment program, you’ll learn the skills about how to begin living a sober, more productive life. Most programs offer a combination of individual and group counseling. You may also learn new coping skills for the common stresses of everyday life. Some programs even offer additional options such as art therapy, journaling and yoga or meditation.
After you go through a narcotics addiction treatment program, you’ll be well-equipped to face a brighter future. Whether you get into treatment after an overdose or not, rehab can save your life. When you’re ready to get started, call the compassionate professionals at (800) 407-7195.