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The benefit of Good Samaritan drug laws

Drug overdose incidents don't have to be fatal in many cases. If a person got medical care right away, he or she may live; without care that is given quickly, the chances of passing away increase dramatically. Every minute makes the danger greater.

Much of the time, there are other people around who could call 911 when they know things have gone wrong and a friend or loved one is in serious danger. However, they often do not call the authorities, and the person passes away -- an entirely preventable death. This is common enough that accidental overdoses have now surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death -- when just looking at accidental deaths -- in the country. This is true for those between 25 and 64 years old.

So, why do people fail to call 911 when it could make a big difference, and when overdose deaths are clearly a pressing issue? A lot of the time, it's because they were also using drugs. These drugs are either illegal in their own right or being used in an illegal fashion. They are afraid that calling the police to try to save another person will just cause them to be arrested and thrown in jail.

And that is why Good Samaritan laws can be so beneficial. These laws encourage people to call the police by ensuring them that they won't be charged if they're just trying to help someone else whose life is in danger.

California does have Good Samaritan laws on the books, along with about two-fifths of the states in the country. It's very important for residents to know how these laws work and what legal protections they may have.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance, "911 Good Samaritan Fatal Overdose Prevention Law," accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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