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Prescription opioid abuse can lead to criminal charges

The United States is currently suffering a national crisis regarding  opioid abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 100 Americans die every day from opioid overdose or complications related to opioids. The situation came to a head last year, when the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. 

Many people believe that they and their family members would never become addicted to opioids, but this could not be farther from the truth. Many instances of opioid addiction stem from the misuse of prescription medication. And misusing prescription opioids can lead not only to a serious addiction, but also to criminal charges-- the consequences of which can be severe. 

The origins of the opioid crisis

The sudden boom in opioid abuse may seem recent, but it has been a long time in the making. Prescription opioids first became widespread in the late 1990s, when many pharmaceutical companies would understate the addictive nature of the drugs to health care providers and consumers. As a result, many physicians began prescribing powerful, highly addictive drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone to their patients for disproportionately small medical issues. The rate of opioid addiction spiked nationwide. Today, anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids will abuse them.

Criminal charges for opioid addicts

One of the cruelest parts of drug abuse is that addicts may face criminal charges pertaining to their addiction. Opioid addiction is no exception. From possession to trafficking, the criminal justice system takes drug-related crimes very seriously. If a defendant is convicted of a drug-related charge, the penalties can be severe. A few of the penalties for drug convictions include:

  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling
  • Fines
  • Jail or prison time

Managing an opioid addiction is never easy. Factor in drug-related criminal charges and the task becomes even more difficult. Anyone who struggles with misusing opioids and has received a criminal charge may wish to contact an attorney. Successfully fighting a drug charge is an important step in reclaiming one's life from opioid abuse.

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