'Good Samaritan' law could save people who overdose on drugs, ex - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

'Good Samaritan' law could save people who overdose on drugs, experts say

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West Virginia has the highest drug overdose rate in the country, according to a new report West Virginia has the highest drug overdose rate in the country, according to a new report

Believe it or not, there are states across the country which protect people who abuse drugs. It's called a 'Good Samaritan' law, and according to some experts, West Virginia needs one.

In a new report completed by the Trust for America's Health, West Virginia has the highest drug overdose rate in the country.

Executive Director Jeff Levi said West Virginia scored high in 8 out of 10 categories for curbing prescription drug abuse. However, he said the state could do more to help people who abuse drugs.

West Virginia is one of many states which does not have a 'Good Samaritan' law. This type of law protects drug users who call 911 in an overdose situation.

He said in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, you can be arrested for doing so.

"This is a medical problem and criminalizing behavior doesn't necessarily solve it," Levi said.

He said without protection from prosecution, drug abusers are too afraid to seek the help they need.

"A majority of respondents among drug users said having that kind of protection made it more likely for them to seek help for someone or for themselves if they overdosed," he said.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha Charleston Health Department, agrees with Levi.

"People often get into the phases where they want to seek help, but then they are afraid if they do turn themselves in, they will be prosecuted instead of treated."

The report also addresses the state's lack of access to naloxone, a prescription drug that counteracts a drug overdose. Naloxone buys the abuser more time to get to an area hospital for further treatment.

Gupta said it currently can't be administered by law enforcement, only paramedics and EMS. He said changing the law could save more lives in the future.

Click here to read more about the report.