One of the biggest challenges facing America today, particularly in Ohio, is the epidemic of heroin overdoses hitting astronomical numbers.Cities in the all-important swing state are struggling to find ways of dealing with the problem in a way that doesn’t needlessly suck up tax dollars, while providing folks with the help they need to get clean.
One method the town of Washington Court House has employed is to charge individuals who overdose and are revived by paramedics with a misdemeanor.
This has caught the attention of the ACLU who is demanding the city stop charging these folks, and believe the policy threatens the safety of those who are drug addicted.
According to Fox News:The American Civil Liberties Union is asking an Ohio community to end the practice of charging drug users revived by emergency responders using an overdose antidote.
The ACLU’s Ohio chapter says the practice is dangerous because it discourages people from calling for help when a loved one overdoses.
Police in Washington Court House began citing people in February with a misdemeanor charge of inducing panic if responders revive them with naloxone. The city is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Columbus.The city says the strategy helps authorities track overdose victims and offer them help. People who call 911 won’t be charged.
At least 12 people have already been charged according to the ACLU.This is an incredibly sticky issue, one that absolutely needs to be tackled, but at the same time doesn’t lend itself to a clearcut solution.
It’s easy to understand where the city is coming from. These medications save lives, but are likely not all that cheap to come by, so a message definitely needs to be sent to the community about the seriousness of the situation.
Plus, overdosing really does impact the entire community, and the rate of recidivism among those addicted to illegal drugs is pretty high, so it’s understandable to want to keep tabs on such individuals.
In looking at both sides of this complex issue, the ACLU has a point in that such a policy could actually cause a greater loss of life due to fear of being thrown in jail or having a steep fine to pay after overdosing. However, as much of the healthcare debate has rehashed, is is fair for the public to bear the cost of the poor choices others make?
Hopefully, there’s an equitable solution out there for all…
[Note: This article was written by Michael Cantrell]