Man drops off body at mission hospital. His lips were blue. Every day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.[i] The State of North Carolina has recognized that sometimes the only people to witness an overdose are themselves using illegal drugs, and they may be afraid to call for help because they may get in trouble. That is changing. Good Samaritans have some legal protection in drug and alcohol overdose cases under a new law, as of April 2013 in North Carolina[ii]. If you witness someone experiencing an overdose from cocaine, heroin, or alcohol, and they need medical attention, call 911 for help and stay with them. A new law that is designed to save lives, give protection to someone who acts in good faith to get medical treatment for someone experiencing a "drug-related overdose" meaning an acute condition, including mania, hysteria, extreme physical illness, coma, or death or conditions that a layperson would reasonably believe need immediate medical assistance. The Good Samaritan shall not be prosecuted[iii] for misdemeanor drug possession, misdemeanor drug paraphernalia, felony possession of up to one gram of heroin or 1 gram of cocaine. The same scheme applies to underage drinkers. When someone overdoses on opiates, including heroin, they may turn blue in their lips and nails, become unresponsive to screaming and shaking, stop breathing, have seizures and even die.[iv] Sometimes they can be saved with an injection of Naloxone Hydrochloride, a fast acting opiate antagonist. This law grants limited immunity to “anyone in a position to assist” who in good faith does assist by providing Naloxone to a person who overdoses on opiates. The related laws for underage drinking grant similar protections for underage drinkers who call for help for a friend who has drank too much, and needs medical help. If you call for medical help under the good faith exception, you shall not be prosecuted for underage possession or consumption of alcohol. Bottom line, if someone needs immediate medical help, call for help. When you call 911 for an ambulance, the police may come too. The police may seize things they see in plain view that are contraband or illegal to possess, but at the end of the day, if you are a Good Samaritan acting in good faith to save someone from an overdose of heroin, cocaine or alcohol, you will not be prosecuted under the new laws. Please tell your kids about this, they are the ones who are in real danger. Note: this is not blanket immunity from prosecution of all crimes. The police will still do their job. This new law gives limited immunity from some but not all drug crimes. If you have questions, call us. We are here to help. [i] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html [ii] § 90-96.2 (possession of 1 gram or less of heroin, cocaine or related drug paraphernalia ) and§ 18B-302.2 (underage alcohol possession/consumption) [iii] http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S20v7.pdf [iv] Wikipedia Opioid Overdose Contact us.