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911 Good Samaritan Law and the Administration of Naloxone (Narcan)

Apr 02, 2015 10:50AM ● Published by Kieran Gilman

(Editor's Note: The following information was submitted by Tewksbury Town Hall.)

Massachusetts is one of 14 states and The District of Columbia that has a 911 Good Samaritan Law. On August 2, 2012, the 911 Good Samaritan law was passed along with laws expanding prescribing and administration of Naloxone (Narcan), a medication used to reverse an opioid overdose.

In order to encourage people to call 911 during an overdose, this law protects people from prosecution for possession of controlled substances when calling 911 in the event of a medical emergency.  This can help save lives and give people who use opioids a chance to get help for their addiction.  The chance of surviving an overdose depends greatly on how fast one receives medical assistance. However, the fear of involvement with law enforcement makes many people afraid to call 911.  

This Good Samaritan Law will not interfere with law enforcement securing the scene at an overdose.  It does not prevent prosecution for selling drugs, trafficking drugs or outstanding warrants and will not interfere with police questioning. It does protect people from being arrested for possession of a controlled substance.  

During an opioid overdose a person becomes unconscious and unresponsive. They will not respond to being called or a sternal rub. They may also begin to turn blue from a lack of oxygen or make snoring or gurgling sounds. If you see these symptoms, we urge you to call 911 immediately and perform rescue breathing. Also learn about the medication naloxone and how it reverses an opioid overdose.

If you or anyone you know needs support, every chapter of Learn to Cope www.learn2cope.org  holds weekly meetings run by experienced facilitators. These meetings offer support, education, resources, Naloxone (Narcan) trainings and most importantly HOPE for recovery. All meetings begin at 7:00pm and are held weekly in various locations throughout the State.  There is one on Tuesdays at the Tewksbury Memorial High School, 320 Pleasant Street and on Wednesdays in Lowell at the Lowell General Hospital Saints Campus, 1 Hospital Drive.

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