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Reporting drug overdose will not result in drug charges

Up until last year, when someone overdosed on drugs, many times the medical emergency wouldn't be reported. Those around the person often left, which meant the overdose victim didn't get care in time. This was because of a fear of prosecution on drug possession charges or worse.

The Overdose Protection Act was signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in May 2013. He said that the leaders in the state wanted people to "save a life first, not worry about anything else thereafter."

According to a news release on the State of New Jersey website, this law not only protects the layperson from criminal prosecution in the event he or she is trying to help an overdose victim. It also offers protection for healthcare workers or even bystanders who give the victim antidotes. The most common antidote for opioid drugs like OxyContin, morphine and heroin is Naloxone. It is usually injected in order to provide the fastest results. One study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 10,000 overdoses had been reversed by 50 nationwide naloxone programs.

Gov. Christie has been a strong proponent of moving away from always pressing charges for drug crimes, instead acknowledging that drug abuse is a treatable disease. From drug court programs to mandatory drug treatment, courts now have alternatives to incarceration.

If you have been charged with a drug crime, your criminal defense attorney can provide more information on these alternatives to prison sentences. While not possible in every case, those who seek treatment may find the help they need.

Source: CNN, "New Jersey law protects overdose patients from prosecution" Julia Talanova, Sep. 25, 2014

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