States combat alarming drug overdose deaths

February 20, 2014
by Mike Ollove
USA Today (

Stephen Cardiges was another casualty in what can only be called an epidemic. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 38,329 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2010. Overdoses are the No. 1 accidental killer of Americans 25 to 64 years old, surpassing even traffic deaths.

Now states are taking action to prevent some of those deaths, many of which are attributable to heroin and the illegal use of prescription pain medications.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed “Good Samaritan” laws that grant limited immunity to drug users who seek help for someone who has overdosed, according to the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a nonpartisan research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. The same number have expanded access to the medication naloxone (also known by its brand name Narcan), which can quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses and restore breathing to a stricken person.

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