Good Samaritans Rock On
People in New Jersey don’t have to be afraid of calling 911 to help someone who is overdosing, even if they are using drugs at the time. Last week, Governor Chris Christie signed the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act. Many families and friends are grateful for the change of heart and compromise of the governor.
Banding Together for Change
Many people have died of overdoses because no one called for help. Friends nearby who were using drugs too feared getting arrested if they called police. Governor Christie vetoed an earlier Good Samaritan bill last fall, saying it was not enough of a deterrent. After his veto, families who lost loved ones to overdose shared their pain through letters and lobbying efforts.
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi got involved in the efforts to revive the bill. His support stemmed from personal experience. Just last year, his 19-year old-daughter, Stephanie, overdosed in her New York college dorm. She survived because a friend called 911. Despite the fact that New York has a Good Samaritan law, Stephanie and her friend were charged with drug possession, but the charges were later dropped. If she had overdosed in her home state of New Jersey at the time, she and her friend could have been charged and prosecuted.
Refocusing the Effort
The New Jersey bill was combined with another bill that makes it legal for anyone to administer an antidote to overdose victims. With the quick action of supporters of the bill and a little star power from Bon Jovi, the Good Samaritan Bill was here to stay. The governor’s decision to compromise with the legislature will save lives. The focus can be shifted to seeking addiction treatment instead of punishing addicts for their disease.
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