This is the fifth anniversary of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Law. Under the law anyone who is looking for emergency help during an overdose, including the person who is overdosing, is exempt from being charged with drug possession or breach of probation. This year, Halton Regional Police Service say officers have already responded to 150 suspected overdoses involving either illicit substances, prescription drugs and/or over-the-counter medications. Of those, 18 people did not survive. If this trend in fatal and non-fatal drug poisonings continues, Halton Police anticipate responding to 445 overdoses by the end of the year, with the potential to lose more than 50 lives.
Halton Police have issued a release noting that it is okay to call for help if you witness someone experiencing an overdose. They know someone witnessing an overdose may be afraid to call for help for fear that they will be charged with drug possession. In the past two years, Halton Police have not laid a single simple possession charge in the course of responding to a suspected overdose.
On this day in 2017, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became law. This Act applies to anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose, and provides some legal protection for the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave the scene before help arrives. The Act also protects anyone else at the scene when help arrives. The Act shields individuals from charges for possession of a controlled substance as well as breach of conditions regarding simple possession of controlled substances in pre-trial release, probation orders, conditional sentences, and/or parole.
The public is reminded that If someone appears to be overdosing, administer naloxone if you have it, and call 9-1-1. Stay with the person until help arrives. Emergency responders, including frontline officers, are equipped with naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose until the victim can get to hospital for treatment.
It is recommended that naloxone be used in all suspected drug poisonings, due to the possibility of opioid contamination or poisoning. Learn where you can get a free naloxone kit here. https://www.ontario.ca/page/where-get-free-naloxone-kit