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Good Samaritan laws and drug overdose immunity in North Carolina

Since 1990, drug overdoses in this country have tripled. The increasing abuse of prescription opioids is one of the main reasons for this increase.

Many people have been fearful of calling 911 or otherwise contacting emergency responders. They are worried that they will be in trouble with the police. As a result, several states, including North Carolina, have passed Good Samaritan laws when it comes to drug overdoses.

What this means is that someone who calls 911 or otherwise notifies emergency responders will not face criminal charges. In addition, many states are passing legislation that will prevent criminal charges against someone who administers naloxone, an antidote against opioid overdose. North Carolina leads the south in drug overdose reform. Project Lazarus, which started in Wilkes County, provides an atomizer so that naloxone can be administered to an overdosing individual nasally. Between 1996 and 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10,000 overdoses have been reversed because naloxone was administered by someone other than a medical professional.

Another group, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, has handed out about 700 naloxone kits and believes that at least 45 people have been saved from overdoses. The sheriff of Wilkes County supplies naxolone to his deputies.

The immunity provided from these Good Samaritan drug overdose laws has its limits. It does not provide immunity from the more serious drug offenses, such as distribution of a controlled substance, trafficking or manufacturing. If you have been charged with one of these offenses, you will need to build a strong defense. The advice of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney can be valuable when it comes to such charges.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "Drug Overdose Immunity "Good Samaritan" Laws" accessed Feb. 13, 2015

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