Study: Fear of arrest stops some who administer opioid overdose drug from calling 911

The fear of being arrested sometimes deters individuals from calling 911 after administering naloxone to someone experiencing an opioid overdose, suggests a survey conducted by researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The fear undercuts Indiana legislation — Aaron's Law — which permits anyone to legally obtain and administer the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. Researchers say 911 should be called after naloxone administration, as the overdosed individual's health remains at risk.

To determine how often 911 is called after naloxone is administered, researchers attached postcard surveys to naloxone kits distributed by local Indiana health departments. Among the postcard surveys returned, 84 were filled out after a kit was used. About 73 percent of respondents said 911 was called after naloxone was administered. The remaining 27 percent said 911 was not called, which researchers attributed to fear of arrest.  

"Naloxone is an incredible, lifesaving substance, and if you use it to save someone's life, you should get a round of applause, not worry about a night in jail," said Bradley Ray, PhD, an assistant professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Researchers concluded additional efforts are needed to educate Indiana residents about naloxone and Aaron's Law.

More articles on opioids: 
Missouri governor sidesteps legislature to create opioid monitoring system 
10-year-old Miami boy dies of exposure to fentanyl and heroin 
CVS Health commits $250k to open opioid abuse treatment center

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