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Can Ohio’s Good Samaritan Law curtail drug overdose deaths?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Drug Charges

Ohio is setting a record high nationwide, but not for fortunate reasons. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show tragic numbers placing Ohio with the third most drug overdose deaths in 2020. By 2021, the number of deaths continued to increase, resulting in a total of 5,397 fatalities.

But can drug overdose deaths reduce if people are more encouraged to call 911?

A call away from saving a life

The Good Samaritan Law is Ohio’s way of urging anyone to call 911 for help when faced with a drug overdose situation. This law provides immunity from a minor drug possession violation both for the overdosed and the individual reporting the incident. But as in any legislation, this comes with qualifications and limitations.

  • Medical help is still necessary despite prior medication administration, like Naloxone, to reverse drug effects because the person may still overdose again when the medicine wears off.
  • The overdosed must agree to undergo a drug test and addiction treatment from an accredited program or facility within 30 days.
  • The law is only applicable twice.
  • Individuals under probation or parole are not eligible under this law.
  • The law only applies to controlled substances, but there are requests to expand it to drug paraphernalia.

According to Ohio’s Department of Health, if you are scared and in doubt when faced with immediate danger, you may still call 911 for help and say that someone has stopped breathing or is unresponsive.

All hands on deck approach

A recent warning from the US Drug Enforcement Administration points to the combination of fentanyl with xylazine as the emerging reason behind the alarming increase in drug overdose deaths. Fentanyl is deadly as it is. If mixed with xylazine, a non-opiate sedative, it leads to the current epidemic wave. Thus, there is an appeal to educate the public about legal protections should they step up in an emergency.