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If a drug addict overdoses, who is responsible?

Whether it’s during a business seminar, school psychology course or interpersonal dispute, many times the message is the same: you need to take responsibility for your actions. But in some circumstances, you may not know how far-reaching the extent of your responsibility is.

You might be of the understanding that a drug overdose is considered an accidental death caused by the drug user, with no further blame involved. However, in cases of drug-related death, could the supplier be held liable?

Overdose connections to criminal charges

As the nationwide war on drugs continues, it’s not only drug dealers who some prosecutors are treating as criminals. If someone shares drugs with a friend or relative, they could face serious criminal charges in the event of an overdose.

Though, some opposition exists from prosecutors who believe treatment, not prison, is a better solution.

According to a May 2018 article in The New York Times, in some cases of drug-related death, the person charged with homicide is an addict who tried to save the other user. Other times, the person who supplied the drugs was not present at the time of the overdose.

Laree’s Law

Though a bill passed by the New York Senate last March isn’t law yet, if enacted it would allow homicide charges in a death resulting from selling certain controlled substances. As it currently stands, whomever provides an illegal opiate drug which results in death can face criminal charges, though usually only for the sale of a controlled substance. Laree’s Law differentiates between dealers and co-users, the latter of which could receive lesser felony charges for distribution.

The sale and use of illegal substances can involve a wide range of circumstances. Those involved can come from different backgrounds with varying influences and factors associated with their drug use. When looking at responsibility in a drug-related case, you may want to remember that addiction is complex and may have negative consequences for your physical health, as well as your freedom.  

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