Home / #Solutions / Having Your Life Saved During an Overdose Now Punishable by 6 Months in Jail

Having Your Life Saved During an Overdose Now Punishable by 6 Months in Jail

Washington Court House, OH — As if struggling to beat opioid addiction weren’t challenging enough, being revived from an overdose in one Ohio town could now earn the victim criminal charges.

In February, Washington Court House Police Chief Brian Hottinger told NBC4, his department began citing anyone whom emergency services must revive using naloxone (name brand, Narcan) with inducing panic.

At least seven people have been charged with this first-degree misdemeanor since the change, and now must face a $1,000 fine and — alarmingly for those already battling addiction — up to six months in county jail.

Officials claim the switch occurred as the latest attempt to quash a widespread opioid epidemic gripping Ohio and the entire nation — but the situation has spiraled so far out of control, Washington Court House’s plan mostly seeks to track who has overdosed.

“It gives us the ability to keep an eye on them, to offer them assistance and to know who has overdosed,” City Attorney Mark Pitsick explained to ABC6. “Sometimes we can’t even track who has overdosed.”

Southwest Ohio and the surrounding region are experiencing, as other areas, the brunt of the heroin and opioid epidemic, leaving authorities scrambling to determine how to best help civilians and stem the supply.

“We are trying everything we can do. It’s an epidemic,” Pitsick asserted.

Hottinger and Pitsick insist charging overdose victims this way will allow officials to offer much-needed help to those whose habits have overtaken their lives — and stuffing people in cages isn’t the goal, but is one option of last resort.

Pitsick reiterated,

“Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail.

“They don’t have hope to begin with, but [by] helping them we hope we are giving them the ability to turn their lives around.”

Although the epidemic is far from unique to Washington Court House, the frustration expressed by overwhelmed officials isn’t; but the widespread, deadly issue has the simplest of solutions — if only beleaguered police departments and emergency medical providers would make their case to the federal government.

Several viable alternatives to jailing nonviolent drug offenders — particularly people addicted to opiates — have shown undeniable promise in curbing the epidemic.

Repealing cannabis prohibition — implemented and sustained for purely political reasons — could virtually solve America’s sordid obsession with heroin and painkillers. Weed not only fails to act as the ‘gateway’ drug U.S. government propaganda has warned us about for decades, but a recent study also found the extraordinary plant can reduce a user’s dependency on, among other things, opiates.

Indeed, decriminalization or legalization as has been attempted in a growing number of nations after Portugal experienced a decade of imperfect success in removing the criminality from all substances — including cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and any drug considered illicit.

Portugal’s prisons veritably emptied of nonviolent drug offenders, the overall violent crime rate slumped, adolescents no longer experiment with substances at the same rate as other Western nations, and — after a brief, expected spike in the revolutionary program’s nascence — the rate of drug use and dependence has lessened dramatically.

Were the U.S. to follow those cues, anyone dependent on opioids would be able to use psilocybin or LSD to break the drug’s chokehold — the government’s own data admits magic mushrooms and acid can reduce opioid dependence.

Of course, any of these options would steal profits from the pockets of pharmaceutical companies which wildly profit from legal drugs like Oxycontin, fentanyl, and more — in short, national decriminalization isn’t likely anytime soon, if ever.

One option working to fight the opioid epidemic that doesn’t require a seismic shift in federal drug policy originally hails from Gloucester, Massachusetts, where heartbroken, now-former Police Chief Leonard Campanello threw the ultimate Hail Mary in 2015.

Sick of the town’s string of deaths from heroin, the frustrated Campanello posted to social media that anyone suffering with drug addiction and dependence should come to the police station — with their remaining supply and needles — and rather than being charged or taken to jail, the department promised to help find an appropriate treatment facility.

To his delight, a number of people took the chief’s offer, even sending the desperate out of state when treatment better fit the individual elsewhere. The drastic switch in policy — and Campanello’s resultant Angel Program — were so efficacious in thwarting the epidemic, it has now been implemented by over 200 police departments around the United States.

Washington Court House officials closely echo Campanello’s helplessness in the face of the monster epidemic — but their plan to charge people as criminals after what must be the lowest point of dependence, overdose, misses the mark.

Our federal government has the power to stifle this problem and rein in opioid dependence — but its fealty to Big Pharma thus far has supplanted any semblance of reason, common sense, and, most of all, compassion.

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    Anyone here buying their story that they want to arrest them so they can “keep track and offer help”? Bull-fucking-shit! This is a spiteful little cash grab to claw back some of the money being pissed away on a program of criminalization and punishment that CLEARLY isn’t working worth a damn! I know, let’s just prohibit it even harder.

  • Mark Skinner

    An epidemic ? Just wait until “ice” hits town…..! In case you don’t know it’s a drug concocted by idiots who don’t know or care about quality control, and it causes incredible violence and suffering to both user and victim. Mothers hooked on the stuff kill their children for no reason, kids rob convenience stores and kill the person behind the counter for fun….and so it goes. Don’t touch “ice” because a couple of hits on a pipe are enough to addict a person. Compared to “ice”, heroin is kid’s stuff.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      Yeah, you’ve been watching too many after-school specials. May I see some documentation on this “ice”?

      • billdeserthills

        Ice was the best available meth, the neo-nazis made it
        it never made anyone hurt anyone else

        • The Cat’s Vagina

          Yes, I know that. I even know what the non-ice meth is called. I want to see what this goober knows and doesn’t know. I doubt I’ll hear back from him – fucking assjabbering idiot!

          • billdeserthills

            I doubt you can get rid of Mark that easily,
            besides he has said nice things about you & upvoted you in the past

          • The Cat’s Vagina

            Thanks for reminding me of that, Bill. I took back that last sentence. The “goober” part still stands, because come the fuck on, but otherwise you’re right. I shouldn’t have been so nasty – *starts to make an excuse for it, but deletes it* my apologies!

          • billdeserthills

            I’ve been trying to be nicer myself,
            but I can’t always do it

    • Thebob

      Sugar is just as bad…and more addictive.

      • billdeserthills

        Shhh you are gonna ruin it for the dentists

    • IceTrey

      Ice? Are you posting from 1990?

  • tz1

    What about people in severe pain? They aren’t “addicts”. But Doctors fear the DEA
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/444416/my-stepsons-father-killed-himself-painkillers-denied-life-not-worth-living

    • Thebob

      How do you think a lot, I mean a lot of people become addicts…They get hurt, get addicted to “legal” taxed drugs, then they can’t get off of them can’t afford to keep buying them so they resort to “illegal” drugs that are pushed and sold by our own gov’t backed drug dealers.

      • tz1

        People smoke cigarettes because they got hurt?
        No, some people get addicted because they try it and can’t get through the withdrawal symptoms.
        But otherwise you are correct, we need to have individuals be able to take care of their own health, in totally private consultation with their physicians.
        Even the “hard drugs” won’t addict some people.
        Some people can handle alcohol, others can’t.
        But even if there is an addiction, it should not be a criminal problem.

        The utter stupidity and irony is there are mandatory minimums for possessing drugs (which doesn’t directly hurt anyone), but no such minimums for property or violent crimes. So they say drugs cause things like burglary and shoplifting, but they put the immutable severe penalties on the drugs, not on the crimes with real victims.

  • Alexander [Melb/Aus]

    The war on drugs has been an utter and total failure. It has many times amplified the very problems it was supposed to be addressing. Everything would be much better off, if they had just left it alone.
    The key here is, that those high up in power want it it like this. The cause of suffering created by the drug war is exactly what those devious people intend. This is just the type of horrible tyranny they want to serve up, that is the hardest part to grasp.

    • Thebob

      It has nothing to do with people it is strictly about money…When states must maintain full prisons or still pay for those full prisons….It is RICO….Follow the money…Most prisons are owned and operated by publicly traded stock companies effectively trading in the open in Human Trafficking….

  • Why should my tax dollars go to save a person who doesn’t want to engage in life on planet earth? But instead of fining them, it would be better to let them leave the planet in peace.

    • Jocko Sarlucci

      Damn Right they should be able to wear bracelet that states “DO NOT REVIVE”.
      Most these addicts are suffering either physical or mental pain “beyond your wildest
      dream”. Also, since GMO is MURDERING THEM daily, go jail the poisoners, oh forgot, their all pretected with the Pedaphiles.

    • IceTrey

      A lot of opiod abusers have jobs and families. The image of the junkie in the alley shooting up is outdated.

      • Even more reasons why my tax dollars should not go to them for their chosen behavior. Since they have jobs, let them pay for their own overdoses. Oh, right, that makes too much sense, never mind.

  • Ed

    They say:
    “Service. Follow up. Just them understanding that people do care. We are here to help. We are not here to put them in jail.”
    “They don’t have hope to begin with, but [by] helping them we hope we are giving them the ability to turn their lives around.”
    BUT you will fine them $1000 on top of the emergency services cost that saved their life.
    This is just a Money Grab! Help my ass!

  • Thebob

    Yes, because we are the government and we are here to help and we know what is best for you….

  • Ibcamn

    they just want these people…every year addicts die in custody.they don’t get help,they are treated like shit and they usually have medical problems to go along with the addiction,untreated addiction,which is bad for the addict.if they are in jail they face serious problems and not just from their cellies,but the guards,they are the worst of the worst.and i may guess that the state wants to have them right where they want them,in a place to get rid of them or put them into the system for good or a repeat offender ormoney,long term income from this person.junkies usually wind up back on their drug of choice,so it usually leads to an arrest,money in fines and another body for the prison system…a cycle that is hard to get out of…and when they want you to suffer and stay in that system,its hard to get out……so the courts create the cycle to suck them in and keep them……….

  • Gary Lagerstrom

    You want to stop the shit maybe you should put the C.I.A. and Army Intelligence in jail first.

  • I’m addicted to dick. That doesn’t mean I expect other people to pay for my habit.