Description of Strategy
Good Samaritan laws provide people with immunity from prosecution for drug-related offenses, while still allowing them the opportunity to call for medical assistance when confronted with an overdose. In doing so, the likelihood that an overdose victim survives improves considerably. While these laws vary significantly between states, the majority allow for protection against minor drug offenses such as possession, with a minority of them providing immunity from prosecution for the sale of narcotics.
Wyoming currently does not have a Good Samaritan law.
Discussion of Effectiveness
There have been several studies that suggest Good Samaritan Laws are effective in increasing the number of emergency calls related to an opioid-related overdose, and thereby decreasing the number of overdose-related fatalities (Jakubowski et al., 2017). For example, Banta-Green et al. (2011) find that Washington State’s Good Samaritan law saw a substantial increase in the probability that when individuals are faced with an overdose, they will call for medical assistance. Furthermore, studies have shown that in New York, such laws effectively increase the number of hospital admissions for an accidental heroin overdoses (Nguyen & Parker, 2018), which subsequently decreases the number of both fatal and non-fatal overdoses from illicit opioids.
Banta-Green, C. J., Kuszler, P. C., Coffin, P. O., & Schoeppe, J .A. (2011). Washington’s 911 Good Samaritan drug overdose law – Initial evaluation results. Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington.
Nguyen, H. & Parker, B.R. (2018). Assessing the effectiveness of New York’s 911 Good Samaritan Law – Evidence from a natural experiment. International Journal of Drug Policy 58(1), 149–156.
Jakubowski, A., Kunins, H. V., Huxley-Reicher, Z., & Siegler, A. (2018). Knowledge of the 911 Good Samaritan Law and 911-calling behavior of overdose witnesses. Substance Abuse, 39(2), 233–238.