Drug overdose deaths have surpassed traffic fatalities in Washington State and 15 other states. This study will examine the legal intent, implementation and outcomes of a new Washington state law to support intervening in drug overdoses. The law includes a Good Samaritan component that provides legal immunity from drug possession charges for people who overdose or seek aid for another person’s overdose. It also allows the prescribing of an opioid antidote medicine (Naloxone) to drug users and their partners. Evaluation will be conducted on the development of the legislation and the impact of the law on Seattle area heroin users, bystanders, and police during overdoses as well as the impacts on community health outcomes.
Opioid overdoses are an important public health concern. Concerns about police involvement at overdose events may decrease calls to 911 for emergency medical care thereby increasing the chances than an overdose becomesfatal. To address this concern, Washington State passed a law that provides immunity from drug possession charges and facilitates the availability of take-home-naloxone (the opioid overdose antidote) to bystanders in 2010.