Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  Breaking News: FDA Approves Triumeq, New Once-Daily Combination Pill
  
  • Email Email
  • Comments Comments
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

New York 911 Bill Could Push Other States to Protect Drug Users

September 19, 2011

NY becomes the fourth and largest state to protect people who report overdoses.

NY becomes the fourth and largest state to protect people who report overdoses.

To the cheers of human rights advocates across New York State, a law that could save the lives of thousands of drug users went into effect yesterday.

The legislation encourages people to call 911 if they experience or witness a drug overdose by providing individuals with limited protection from prosecution for possession of small quantities of drugs.

The passage of the "911 Good Samaritan Law" makes New York the fourth and largest state to adopt a law that protects those who report overdoses. In the U.S., drug deaths now exceed traffic fatalities, and overdose kills more than 37,000 people each year, according to the CDC. The passage of the bill in such a large state could encourage other states to enact similar legislation.

Advertisement

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill in July, he recognized that some individuals in the state's law enforcement were resistant to the law, but wrote "the benefit to be gained by this bill -- saving lives -- must be paramount."

In New York State, overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death, according to the activist group VOCAL-New York. Overdoses can be prevented -- but many who witness or experience an overdose do not call emergency services for fear of being prosecuted for drug possession.

Washington State, Connecticut and New Mexico are the only other states that protect people who report overdoses, though similar legislation is under consideration in California, Illinois and Nebraska.

"When my girlfriend overdosed, I called 911 because I didn't want her die," said Elizabeth Owens, a leader from VOCAL-New York. "But I hesitated because I thought it would mean sacrificing my freedom if the police found drugs on us. Many people don't follow through and make that call because they're afraid of what the police will do when they arrive. This new law can be a lifesaving tool, but only if the police understand it and get the public to trust them."

Follow the Update blog on Twitter @housingworks.



  
  • Email Email
  • Comments Comments
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by Housing Works. It is a part of the publication Housing Works AIDS Issues Update. Visit Housing Works' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
See Also
Ask Our Expert, David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., About Substance Use and HIV
More News and Views on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS

No comments have been made.
 

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Tools
 

Advertisement