Legal Interventions to Reduce Overdose Mortality: Naloxone Access and Overdose Good Samaritan Laws


Key Questions: How can increasing naloxone access and distribution assist in combatting the opioid crisis? What are the policies on naloxone distribution in the United States? What is an overdose Samaritan law?

This document provides an overview of recently passed naloxone legislation and Good Samaritan laws in the United States.

This paper discusses naloxone distribution, the standard first-line treatment for opioid overdose, and laws passed to address drug overdose, including an overdose Good Samaritan law. Legislation passed on July 15, 2017, designed to improve layperson naloxone access and protection from arrest for individuals who report an overdose in good faith are highlighted.


  • Background
  • Law as both problem and solution
  • Overview of naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws
  • Conclusion
  • Table 1: Characteristics of state naloxone access laws
  • Table 2: Characteristics of state overdose Good Samaritan laws
  • References
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Summary of the tool

Drug overdose is a nationwide epidemic that claims the lives of thousands. Opioid overdose is reversible through the timely administration of the medication naloxone and, where needed, the provision of other emergency care. In an attempt to reverse the unprecedented increase in preventable overdose deaths, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have now modified their laws to increase access to naloxone, the standard first-line treatment for opioid overdose.

All states have removed some legal barriers to the seeking of emergency medical care and the timely administration of naloxone, to improve the availability of naloxone and encouraging bystanders to become “Good Samaritans”.

A comprehensive solution for the opioid epidemic includes reductions in inappropriate opioid prescribing, increased access to evidence-based treatment and de-stigmatization and de-criminalization of addiction is likely necessary to create large-scale, lasting change. 

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The Network for Public Health Law

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Naloxone and Good Samaritan Laws