Is Overdosing an Infraction in Louisiana?
What if I ever overdose on a drug? Will I be able to seek medical attention without being arrested?
What happens if I try to help someone who appears to be overdosing? Will I go to jail if I help them seek medical care?
These are some of the most common questions that get asked, since possession of Schedule I narcotic drugs is illegal in Louisiana. So, let’s find out whether you can, in fact, be charged with possession if you either overdose or seek help for someone who is overdosing.
What is drug overdose?
If someone takes prescription medications, illicit drugs, or other substances in very high quantities - higher than their body can tolerate - it leads to a drug overdose. Generally, most drug overdose deaths have been found to be a result of taking heroin, synthetic fentanyl, and other illegally obtained opioids. With so many people overdosing on opioids, and a lot of them dying, it is only wise to know whether Louisiana laws prosecute an overdosed person or their helper if they seek medical attention.
What kind of medical care can someone expect if they ever overdose?
Trained first responders and emergency medical providers generally administer naloxone through nasal spray or injection to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in the body and prevent death. However, not many people having an opioid overdose get this medical attention.
What stops people from getting emergency medical care?
It is the fear that the police will charge them if they find out, that many people don’t call the emergency number or get medical attention. If found to be in possession of Schedule I substances, such as opioids, one can be fined accordingly and even be imprisoned.
However, there is a silver lining. More and more states, such as Louisiana, are making laws that don’t scare people from getting the medical attention they need to keep themselves alive. In Louisiana, if you are found to be overdosing, and you seek medical care while being in possession of drugs, you can get immunity from getting penalized.
What if you want to help someone who, it seems, is overdosing?
Often, people who witness someone overdosing, do not call for help; they fear legal consequences. In Louisiana, though, if you are not someone who has provided the drug that caused the overdose, you will not be prosecuted. Act 192 of the 2015 Regular Legislative Sessions provides anyone “acting in good faith” to help an individual showing signs of an opioid-related drug overdose immunity from civil or criminal charges.
In addition, there are the Good Samaritan laws that protect bystanders who summon authorities when they see someone overdosing. They’re required to stay at the scene until help comes. This law acts as a means to encourage people to seek help if they see a risk of death due to overdose.
If you ever see anyone overdosing, do not hesitate to call 911 and get them the medical help they need. You can always rest assured, that if you’re only a good samaritan saving a fellow human’s life, you will not be in any legal trouble.
In case it is you who has overdosed, please get emergency medical care as soon as possible. You will find Louisiana laws generally provide immunity from any legal charges and possible jail time when the overdose is opiate-related.
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This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.
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