Examples of promising programs include:
Programs to encourage opioid overdose witnesses to seek help:
Many opioid overdoses are witnessed, but bystanders do not call 9-1-1 because they do not recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose, or because they are concerned about legal repercussions.
To remove barriers for witnesses of opioid overdoses to call 9-1-1, a growing number of states have passed overdose Good Samaritan laws. These laws shield those who seek help and witnesses from certain criminal charges for drug or alcohol possession. Even in the absence of Good Samaritan laws, arrests at the scene of an overdose are rare in most jurisdictions. Law enforcement agencies are in a unique position to make the public aware of these life-saving policies. However, failure to follow stated policies about arrest or prosecution can detrimentally impact the willingness of drug users, their families, and others to seek help in an emergency.
Example: In Washington State, research suggested that the vast majority of drug users were not aware of the new Good Samaritan law a year after its passage. The State Attorney General was featured in a press conference when the law took effect and he and the medical director of the Poison Control Center appeared in a radio public service announcement to share information about the law. The launch of the video was accompanied by a wide-ranging media campaign to educate the public about the provisions and benefits of the Good Samaritan law. The Seattle Police Department also created a video to be shown at roll call to all patrol officers that featured the narcotics captain, a county prosecutor and the medical director of public health. The video addressed what the law does and does not cover, the basics of what naloxone is, and the fact that public health programs would be distributing naloxone. To address their concerns, community members receiving naloxone were informed that police have received education about the Good Samaritan law and naloxone distribution efforts.