By Scott Burris
You’ve probably heard about the good news/bad news experience of Stephanie Bongiovi, daughter of rocker Jon Bon Jovi. A college student, she ODed on heroin, but help was summoned and she’s going to be fine. The (temporary) bad news for her (and longer term for others in her plight) is that she and a companion were arrested IN SPITE of a recent New York Good Samaritan 911 law passed explicitly to encourage people to call for help.
There are some technicalities and prerequisites, so if you want to see the law it’s available on LawAtlas. But if she or her companion sought help, and absent a hyper-technical reading of the statute (it literally does not protect a victim unable to seek help), the charges should never have been filed and should be dropped. The problem for the rest of us is that these laws only work if people at an OD scene know about them and trust them. High profile arrests like this are — and for once I think there might be some truth to this claim — sending a message not to seek help.
Meanwhile, Leo Beletsky, Jody Rich and Alex Walley have a fine little piece in JAMA that thoroughly catalogues the removable barriers to OD prevention. The table alone is worth thousands of words, which is nice because JAMA’s editors were pretty tight on the word limit despite the importance of the topic.