Should You Ever Call the Cops on Someone High on Opioids?

Opioid addiction is currently a national epidemic. These drugs are both incredibly powerful and incredibly addicting. More importantly, when people use them, they often start believing that it’s impossible to live without them. As users become more tolerant of opioids, they tend to increase their doses, and at times, they may increase them to potentially lethal levels. Whether someone is using an opioid that’s been prescribed by a doctor or an illicit substance that’s been purchased off the streets, ingesting too much at once can prove fatal. Thus, although you might be reticent to call the police on someone who’s using these drugs, and who’s clearly disoriented as a result, there are definitely instances in which you should. It’s important to understand the benefits of police involvement when opioid addiction exists. The urge to continue using drugs makes it extremely difficult for many people to seek help for themselves. It is only when they’ve reached their personal “rock bottom”, that they’re able to consider getting the support they need. For some individuals, finding themselves at the center of police activity can constitute “rock bottom”. At other times, contacting the police could get trained responders on the scene before an overdose actually occurs. Seeing someone high on opioids can a scary experience for anyone who is unfamiliar with these drugs and their effects. As people nod off and lose control of their basic movements, it may be difficult to tell whether or not they’re physically okay. The best way to know for sure is by having them examined by paramedics or other first responders.

Fatal Overdose Prevention

Being a “Good Samaritan” simply means being good to someone even though they’re of no relation to you and there are no personal benefits to be gained by doing. When you see someone high on opioids, putting a call into the police may be giving this individual access to essential help and support. If you aren’t familiar with the signs of opioid overdose, you certainly don’t want to assume that a person is going to be alright. The likelihood of a person surviving an overdose is always greatly increased with timely intervention and treatment. Waiting to place a phone call or simply not making it all can have a significant and very detrimental impact on the individual’s prognosis. It is for this very reason that “Good Samaritan” laws have recently been put in place. “Good Samaritan” laws exist in many states to encourage people to call in whenever a potential heroine or other opioid overdose is suspected. Without these laws, in instances in which other people in the vicinity are high on drugs themselves, placing these calls might be seen as self-incriminating. “Good Samaritan” laws ensure that the caller and all others around the overdosing individual will not be charged for low-level drug offenses. These can include possession of drug paraphernalia, possession with the intent to use, and even possession with the intent to sell in some instances. Not only do these laws protect those who call the police, but they are also designed to protect the people who need help. Thus, you won’t be placing someone at risk of long-term incarceration by reporting their suspected overdose.

The Possible Outcomes When Calling the Police

If a person using opioids is determined to be in a stable condition, they are unlikely to be held by the police. However, if this individual is recognized as being potentially harmful to themselves or to others, they can be lawfully detained. During their period of detainment, opioid users are given essential detox support to help mitigate their withdrawal symptoms. This support can actually set the stage for a successful recovery and thus, it can be incredibly helpful in instances in which a person was having a hard time finding or committing to professional help on his or her own. Before their release, many people who suffer from opioid addiction are also aligned with case managers or given referrals for continued drug treatment support. In some instances, they can even be transferred directly to inpatient drug treatment programs. Being able to recognize the signs of opioid overdose is essential, especially if someone you care about struggles with opioid addiction. These include:

  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Small pupils
  • Cold or blue-tinged skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory failure

If you aren’t physically near to someone who is experiencing these symptoms, they may be difficult to detect. However, if you believe that a person is in a physical state of distress due to opioid use, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Making a quick phone call could be a life-saving, overdose intervention. If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, we can help. Call us today at 833-497-3812