Ohio Town Deals With OD Survivors by Charging Them

Washington Court House users given naloxone are charged with 'inducing panic'
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2017 11:32 AM CST

(Newser) – An Ohio town is trying out a novel approach to discourage overdose victims who are revived from doing it again: slapping them with a charge of "inducing panic." The AP reports drug abusers in the town of Washington Court House risk the misdemeanor charge if they are revived with a shot of naloxone. The go-to drug for emergency responders reverses the effects of heroin or opioid overdose in seconds, per the New York Times. Seven people have been issued a summons since the new law went into effect last month. It came as a response to a 10-day rash of overdoses in Fayette County, where the town is located: 30 suspected overdoses, six of them fatal.

Those convicted of the charge face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail, though city attorney Mark Pitsick said tracking and trying to help addicts, not locking them up, is the point. A manager at a local rehab center gave a thumbs up, saying the new approach will lead more addicts to treatment. "So many of them, it seems like their only way here is if they have a court referral," she tells WLWT. But others worry the effort will cause those in need to shy away from getting help for an overdose, despite immunity for anyone who calls 911 on behalf on a user, the Christian Science Monitor reports. On the flip side, Cincinnati now offers immunity to users who hand over their drugs and seek help, though the Monitor notes there have been few takers. (It is shockingly easy to become addicted to prescription opioids.)

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