This high-profile overdose death comes at a time when Utah and other states are desperately trying to prevent similar fates among drug users; many of whom are quite young. Thankfully, an important overdose-related bill being considered by Utah lawmakers unanimously passed in the House last week and will now go before the Senate.
The bill, which we wrote about in December, would grant limited immunity to individuals who seek help for overdose victims; either by calling 911 or taking them to the emergency room. If passed, the bill would grant them immunity from facing charges for drug crimes related to simple possession and/or use.
Before the bill moved out of the House last week, legislators reconsidered and ultimately removed provisions requiring individuals to disclose their own identity when seeking help for an overdose victim. Because those provisions were removed, individuals will not need to disclose their identity in order to be granted immunity from prosecution.
Last year alone, drug overdoses killed over 500 people in Utah. And that number accounts for just a fraction of the drug-overdose deaths nationwide; many of which were caused by heroin. While the abuse epidemic is a problem with no clear solution, we can at least try to make the abuse of heroin and other drugs less fatal. If passed and enacted, this bill could save countless lives in Utah and inspire similar legislation in other states.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, “House rethinks overdose reporting bill,” Lee Davidson, Jan. 30, 2014