Responding to an overdose? Call 9-1-1!

Data collected from CCENDU members between 2013 and 2016 suggest that laypeople (i.e., members of the community who are not first responders or medical professionals) trained to administer naloxone and who had used a naloxone kit to treat an overdose did not call 911 in 30% to 65% of overdoses.

• The number one reason for not doing so (reported by more than one third of respondents) was concern about police involvement and possible arrest.

• The second most cited reason for not calling 911 was that people felt the person would “get better” unaided.

Assuring those at the scene of a drug overdose that they will not be prosecuted for drug possession or other offenses if they call 911 and attend to the victim until authorities arrive might encourage more people to call emergency services, potentially reducing the number of fatalities or brain injuries resulting from drug poisoning.

Good Samaritan laws, as they pertain to drug overdose situations, are laws that provide immunity from prosecution if the evidence is obtained as a direct result of the person calling 911 to help someone who has overdosed.

It is recommended that anyone distributing naloxone to laypeople emphasize the critical importance of calling 911 in drug poisoning situations.

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