Claiming nearly 120 American lives daily, drug overdose is a true national crisis. The main driver of this epidemic is opioid overdose (OOD), which cuts across class, race, and demographic characteristics. Certain groups, including veterans, residents of rural and tribal areas, recently-released inmates, and people completing drug treatment/detox programs are at an especially high risk of OOD. The vast majority of OODs are accidental and result from taking inappropriate doses of opioids or mixing opioid drugs with other substances. These drug poisonings typically take 45-90 minutes to turn fatal, creating a critical window of opportunity for lifesaving intervention. Appropriate assistance, including administration of the antidote naloxone, can quickly and effectively reverse the OOD. Reducing the time between the onset of OOD symptoms and effective intervention is a matter of life and death. Tragically, many victims do not receive timely medical attention. In many cases, witnesses delay calling for help because they do not recognize OOD symptoms or are concerned about getting in trouble with the law. In other cases, emergency medical response may take too long to arrive or the victim may not be discovered until it is too late. Law enforcement officers (LEOs) have always been on the front lines of the battle against drug-related harm in our communities. The current OOD crisis is no different. Across the US, law enforcement agencies are increasingly initiating programs to stem the tide of overdose fatalities. This document provides an overview of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that may arise in agencies that are considering or initiating such efforts.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Beletsky, Leo, "Engaging Law Enforcement in Opioid Overdose Response: Frequently Asked Questions" (2014). School of Law Faculty Publications. 39.