Laura Eshelman: Life-saving act

January 11, 2013 

Life-saving act

In regards to Allison Glasser’s Dec. 29 Point of View piece “Saving lives, protecting Samaritans”: The woman referenced in the article was an acquaintance of mine before she passed away from a drug overdose.

The grief and anger felt around our college campus was palpable, in part because her death was so unnecessary. Until we begin to treat drug abuse as a public and mental health issue instead of referring addicts to the criminal justice system, such preventable deaths will continue to affect communities. Since current laws that prohibit and deter people from seeking emergency services for someone who has overdosed have done nothing to curb demands for drugs for over 30 years, isn’t it time for some policy changes?

What the Good Samaritan Act offers is an opportunity with much potential gain and nothing to lose. Even if usage rates remain stable, fatalities will decrease if bystanders have no reason to fear legal repercussions for calling 911 or have access to safe methods of reversing an overdose. In the meantime, the criminalization of substance abusers only stymies progress that would potentially save thousands of lives.

Laura Eshelman, Durham

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