Let’s remove young people’s fear of calling 911

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I would never condone underage intoxication, but let’s be honest — it happens.

Whether it is alcohol, smoking weed or taking prescription drugs that don’t belong to them, teens’ brains are not fully developed and they want to experiment because they feel invincible.

They also die from overdose.

Every 19 minutes, someone in America dies from an unintentional drug overdose. Many of these overdoses happen in the presence of someone who is able to help, but is too scared to call 911. Fear of police involvement or drug charges prevent many lifesaving 911 calls.

That’s what happened to Jeremy Sharp’s friend four years ago.

As the Georgia General Assembly convened last week, Sharp’s goal has been to ensure this never happens again.

He’s pushing for the “Good Samaritan law,” which covers those who are under 21.

The law is expected to be sponsored in Georgia’s legislature by state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford.

If adopted, it would remove fear of police involvement or drug charges (minor in possession) that can prevent many lifesaving 911 calls and give immunity from legal troubles to those under 21 who are seeking help for someone else or themselves.

Sharp, 26, of Gainesville, established a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy to encompass the University of North Georgia campuses.

Sharp, a political science major who has had four of his friends die from drug overdoses, has said students on all four campuses have joined him in calling for the change.

He goes to bars, clubs and schools to gather signatures of support. So far, he has about 400.

About 14 states have adopted this law, including Florida and North Carolina.

The final part of the Good Samaritan bill will be to allow naloxone to be an over-the-counter drug, according to a Gainesville Times article.

Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

About 9.2 million people worldwide are believed to be using heroin, which killed 15,500 people in the U.S. in 2009, the most recent information available from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Adopting this policy could be a simple, effective way to save many of our young people’s lives.

To contact Sharp’s chapter, visit http://bit.ly/1hyptJ7.