Opinion: Charge Overdosed Drug Abusers For The Cost Of The Emergency Response | Meir Bergman

On Sunday, TLS reported on yet another individual who overdosed while operating a motor vehicle, this time while driving on Route 9 near Pine Street.

Overdosing has always been a problem, but it seems to me that such occurrences have become far more prevalent in recent years. Ask local emergency responders how much time, effort, and resources are now tied up because of people overdosing, and they will likely reply with a sorrowful shake of their heads.

A recent report stated that emergency medical services have become completely overloaded by drug overdoses, costing them millions in funds that could be better utilized on responsible people requiring emergency services. Moreover, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are spent in nearly every New Jersey town and municipality on overdose patients are being paid not by the patients themselves, but rather by hardworking, responsible taxpayers, like you and me. I don’t know about you, but I am thoroughly sick and tired of it.

Here’s how to change that: urge our local legislators to introduce a bill that would slap hefty fines on people requiring emergency medical services due to an overdose from an illegal substance. As things are now, drug abusers are not very concerned with taking ever-higher doses of heroin and whatever else they are killing themselves with. Drug abusers know that even if they overdose, they are likely to be resuscitated by being administered Narcan, and are therefore willing to push the envelope on their substance intake. Furthermore, they know that overdosing comes with few repercussions; in most instances, EMS will transport them to a hospital where they will be stabilized and then released, without even being charged anything. All that has to change.

We need to push our state lawmakers to introduce a bill that would charge drug abusers the full price of the emergency response, treatment, and any associated costs, plus a nice-sized penalty on top of all that. While I have pity for those caught in the clutches of addiction, I don’t have compassion for those that are reckless with their addictions at the expense of others. Just as a drunk driver would be on the hook for any damages he or she incurs plus hefty fines, so too it should be with drug addicts.

Right now, certain drug addicts are stealing our hard-earned money in service of themselves and their addictions. This isn’t acceptable – we need a bill that will punish these abusers of our emergency services system and deter others from doing the same.

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  1. Imho that makes absolutely no sense at all.
    #1 why not charge anyone causing an accident while texting?? Or starting a fire using an overloaded extension cord? It’s a slippery slope
    #2 addiction is defined as compulsively continuing to do said action even if it’s detrimental to your life. Adding a penalty will not in any shape or form change a thing. Addics thinks differently. How’s our “war on drugs” coming along??
    #3 the vast majority of users are homeless junkies (yes, the addiction got them to that point, see my comment number 2). So who and how are you going to level fines at??
    #4 The guy in the car was probably charged with a DWI and more fines.

  2. This article was obviously written by someone who knows nothing about addiction.
    Which begs the question, why are the am chochom venavon joining the trump world of ‘less facts, more opinion’? Why don’t we know that things are rarely simple, they have nuance, detail and depth.

    Overdose is a problem, least of which is the strain on emergency services. We need to figure out a way to prevent it, stop drug companies flooding the market and aking obscene profits on this crisis. We need to provide help for those who are addicted, and pay for it. We will end up saving money in the long run.
    Articles like this do a disservice to all of us.

  3. I fully understand your frustrations & ideas to try to solve this issue,Unfortunately your ideas wont help much.Your focus should be on the suppliers & where its coming from,maybe send the bill to the drug cartels or Mexico.Thanx to the Lord Our Great President Trump is a few steps in head of you Working At Great Lengths to secure our borders & fight back against the drug smugglers.Big Progress has been made but much more to go,Hopefully With Trumps Continued Effort The calls For Overdose will decrease

  4. All that a policy like this would accomplish would be to lessen the likelihood of people calling emergency services in the event of an overdose. The war on drugs and criminalizing drugs and addiction has been one of the largest moral and practical failure in the history of US policy. A policy like this would just take the country further down the failed path that got us into this situation in the first place.

  5. no, I don’t think it’s a good plan. It won’t stop anyone as all of the other comments said. Additionally it’s people who likely can never ever pay anyways. And if they do ever clean up their life having this debt will be a big issue for them always. Finally, I think it’s like any other illness. Maybe you should ask medical insurance to pay for it.

  6. EMS services especially in the lakewood area all bill for their services. The patient actually needs to pay that bill. Fining them would be the same issue they would still have to pay the fine

    • I agreed with all the comments on this accept this one. It is not easy, but yes drug addicts absolutely can help themselves. They are the only ones who can help them.

  7. One thing I know is all these substances are illegal yet they flow like water and hardly anyone gets arrested.

    If politician were serious about this problem it would be over but the level of corruption from this very lucrative$$$ trade provides ample $$$ to where is needs to be so drugs can continue and hurt communities.
    Corruption leads to death and ruined lives.
    Drugs numb emotional pain that many are in as there is no family life no basic support. Drugs are going to be the downfall of USA.

  8. The real question is why TLS keeps printing letters from such an ignoramus (unless it’s to drive site traffic, which is fine, business is business)
    Here he has no clue about addiction and how his idea would make things worse.
    In his letter “Change Gun Laws” it’s clear he has no understand of the 2nd Amendment, How guns work, or why people use them.
    If this is to increase revenue, I’m all for it. If it’s to inform the public, find someone that knows what their talking about.

  9. This article must have been written by a Democrat, this is just another tax on people that use a system that tax dollars pay for. If the Government gets paid back for the services what do you think they will do with the new found money…..give it to illegals of course.

  10. Mr. Bergman:

    Addicts of hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl frequently are forced to choose between risking overdose (by using their next fix), or “being sick”.

    When I say “being sick”, don’t think of it like a regular old fashioned cold that chicken noodle soup, bed rest, and some medicine will fix…”being sick” (aka ‘drug withdrawal’) is the WORST feeling to 100% of addicts…it’s why most addicts keep on using until they do eventually overdose.

    Described as sort-of like the flu, opiate withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks…hot and cold spells, shivering, sweating, sleeplessness that persists for a week or more, vomiting, diarrhea, the feeling that you will never feel normal again…and the list goes on and on.

    That’s the reason these drugs are so hard for addicts to quit, once they start.

    In principle, I agree with you – there should be a limit to how many times taxpayer dollars are used to save the life of someone who is addicted, when there are plenty of innocent people who need emergency service resources who are not addicts.

    At the same time, addicts are also Somebody’s loved ones. Someone’s addiction is breaking someone else’s heart. If it was your loved one who was addicted, you would want every chance to be given to them, even if someone else thought it was “a waste of taxpayer resources”. Why?

    Because deep-down, you know that loved one. You know what that person was in their life Before they became an addict. You know THAT person. And you know they are worth saving, no matter if they don’t yet realize it.

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