2015 Heroin Bill Provides Immunity For 911 Overdose Calls

August 4, 2015

Accidental drug overdose deaths in Kentucky increased in 2014 according to data 


just published by the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy.  Hardest hit 


counties appear to be Jefferson, Fayette, and Northern Kentucky, among others.  


Floyd County had the highest per capita death rate of 55 per 100,000. Fayette 


County saw the largest increase, with a 25% jump over 2013. The overwhelming 


majority of cases involved heroin and other opioids.  





Opioid overdose deaths are preventable, but medical aid must be administered 


quickly. Opioids cause respiratory depression as a side effect. Too much and the 


person stops breathing. Without intervention death follows.  Naloxone, which all 


ambulances—and now many police cars carry, will scrub opioids from opioid 


receptors in the brain, and reverse the overdose in an instant.  But, the person 


overdosing can’t make the call for help themselves—they’re busy dying! 


The 2015 Heroin bill authorized “911 Good Samaritan” immunity from 


prosecution for those using drugs at the time they call for help for someone 





Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for overdose victims to be left to die without 


any medical aid for fear of prosecution. People have been known to drop an 


overdosing friend at the outside of a hospital, or down the street, or just not call for 


help at all.  One Kentucky legislator speaks of a nephew whose girlfriend was 


afraid to call 911 for him because she thought he would get in trouble for using 


illegal drugs—needless to say, he didn’t make it!





Many critics complain that immunity from prosecution will only encourage more 


drug use.  Nonsense—unremitted addiction causes more drug use, and you can’t 


treat the addiction if the person is dead.  



The Legislature seems to wisely perceive addiction as a medical issue much more 


than a criminal issue.  The recent Heroin bill does provide stiffer penalties for 


those dealing drugs. However, it puts in place provision for the reality of addictive 


thinking, and attempts to counter the mistakes we’ve made in the past by 


criminalizing the disease instead of creating more opportunities for people to 


encounter help and support.  Ultimately, they have to stay alive for us to treat the 


disorder that’s trying to kill them.  Please spread the word about 911 Good 


Samaritan Immunity for overdoses in Kentucky.

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