Overdose Awareness Day is August 31. More than twenty five thousand Americans will likely die of an accidental drug overdose this year, but most overdose deaths can be prevented.
On August 31 rallies, vigils, and other events will be held across the country to draw attention to the overdose epidemic.
Overdose deaths have more than doubled in the past decade, and the government is ignoring the proven solutions. We need cost effective, lifesaving strategies like expanding access to the overdose reversal medicine naloxone and Good Samaritan 911 policies.
The most powerful tool for stopping overdose deaths is a generic, safe, non-narcotic drug called naloxone, which reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. By simply making naloxone more widely available, we can prevent thousands of overdose deaths every year. Naloxone, also sometimes known as Narcan, has been the first line of defense against overdose in ambulances and emergency rooms all across America for more than 40 years. Its extensive track record of safety and efficacy is the reason why more and more physicians and communities are now helping people to learn about it, find it and use it.
911 Good Samaritan Laws
The chance of surviving an overdose, like that of surviving a heart attack, depends greatly on how fast one receives medical assistance. Witnesses to heart attacks rarely think twice about calling 911, but witnesses to an overdose often hesitate to call for help or, in many cases, simply don’t make the call. The most common reason people cite for not calling 911 is fear of police involvement. People using drugs illegally often fear arrest for themselves or the person overdosing, even in cases where they need professional medical assistance for a friend or family member. The best way to encourage overdose witnesses to seek medical help is to exempt them from arrest or criminal prosecution for minor drug law violations, an approach often referred to as 911 Good Samaritan laws.