911 Calls, Good Samaritan Laws, And Opiate Overdoses
"Among heroin users, research indicates fear of police response as the most common barrier to not calling 911 during overdoses.12,13 In a Baltimore study, 37 % of injection drug users who did not call 911 during an overdose endorsed concerns about police as the most important reason they did not call.13 Several states have enacted laws, commonly called Good Samaritan laws, to encourage calling 911 during overdoses on controlled substances; these laws are in part modeled on college campus alcohol Good Samaritan policies.14 Overdose Good Samaritan laws had been adopted in ten states as of the end of 2012, but they have not yet been evaluated.15 Generally, the laws include provisions that provide immunity from criminal prosecution for drug possession to overdose victims and to those who seek medical aid. Eight states have passed laws that ease access to take-home-naloxone by allowing the prescription of naloxone (an opioid antagonist or antidote) to persons at risk for having or witnessing an overdose, enabling bystanders to quickly respond in the event of an overdose.3,15 Previous research suggests that police are sometimes under-informed, and often ambivalent to public health laws, especially those based in a risk reduction framework.16,17"
Banta-Green C J, Beletsky L, Schoeppe JA, Coffin PO, Kuszler PC. Police officers’ and paramedics' experiences with overdose and their knowledge and opinions of Washington State's drug overdose-naloxone-Good Samaritan law. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 2013;90(6):1102-;11.