The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics for 2011 indicate an increase in Americans fatalities from prescription painkiller overdoses.
Many Americans associate death by drug overdose with cocaine, heroine and other street drugs, but medical drugs can be just as lethal. Opioids, once only used for cancer patients, are now used in mainstream medicine for chronic pain control.
Opiods are effective and highly addictive. As such, they are in high demand on the black market. Statistically speaking. these drugs account for up to 15,000 deaths per year and at least 500,000 trips to the ER annually.
The face of drug addiction is changing. The users’ population now includes injured veterans, those in middle age, seniors and young adults. The most commonly abused drugs are oxymorphone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
At one time, car accidents were the leading cause of injury death in the United States. As of 2012, death by drug overdose has replaced it.
Every state has its own laws relating to prescription drug abuse. The penalties vary. In some locations, doctors are held criminally liable for their actions, and their licenses are revoked if their painkillers are found for sale on the street.
In some states, pain clinic owners must be medical professionals. Some states mandate that drugstores restrict dispensing and reduce supplies; others implement patient registries of those who use controlled substance prescriptions.
The cycle of prescription drug addiction and overdose can begin subtly. A patient gets painkillers for an injury and uses them as necessary. Perhaps he or she continues taking them when they are no longer needed, noticing their still-positive impact. Sometimes, leftover or unused drugs sit in a cabinet at home, and someone begins to help themselves in pursuit of a high.
When the approved medical supply route dries up, addicts turn to sourcing pain pills on the street. Floridians can also visit a pill mill, staffed by medical doctors who write prescriptions without spending much time examining the patient. Drug dealers may frequent these same clinics, sourcing a supply for their street business – a lucrative one, as pain pills often sell for up to 10 times their usual price at a drugstore.
In Florida, pill mills are an epidemic. Local and state governments have cracked down relentlessly, with some effect. While there has been a marked decline in drug abuse, it remains a significant problem. Nationwide, at least 1.7 percent of the population abuses painkillers without having a clear medical reason to do so.
Thomas C .Grajek is a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Lakeland, and Polk County Florida. To contact a Lakeland criminal defense lawyer or to learn more, visit http://www.flcrimedefense.com/ or call 863-688-4606.