If friends are not afraid to call 911, they can prevent overdose deaths. Alarmingly, in 2014 47,055 people died in the US from a drug overdose.
Unfortunately, friends who witness a drug overdose often leave the person to sleep it off. Some are afraid of the consequences of calling for help. Friends often use drugs also and fear discovery and legal charges.
911 Good Samaritan Laws provide immunity for drug users who call authorities or bring a drug user to a medical facility. In some states, the police will not charge for controlled substance possession or paraphernalia, if the person tries to help an overdosing friend.
Narcan (Naloxone) is an opiate antidote. It is not a controlled substance, but it is a prescription drug. It prevents or reverses the effects of opioids. One can administer Naloxone via injection, or as a nasal spray. The effect lasts from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how it is taken. Since the duration of action of Naloxone can be shorter than that of some opiates, the effects of the opiate may return. In this case, a repeated dose of Naloxone could be needed. When administered in the absence of opioids, Naloxone does not exhibit pharmacologic activity.
Naloxone access laws vary. In some states, pharmacists dispense Narcan without a prescription. In other states, the law requires training and education of the recipient before he obtains naloxone.
About 60% of overdose deaths in 2014 involve some type of opioid. Narcan can prevent many such deaths.
Since the beginning of 2016, three more states signed into law naloxone access bill: Iowa, Missouri, and Arizona. Hence, now all but three states (Kansas, Montana, and Wyoming) had passed legislation designed to improve layperson naloxone access.