When a person thinks of drug addiction, he or she usually thinks of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. This is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as an experienced New York drug lawyer explains in the paragraphs below.
A National Threat
In 2011, prescription painkillers, namely oxycodone, hydrocodone and oxymorphone, killed more people and destroyed more lives than any outlawed substance, including cocaine, heroin and other street drugs. This appalling statistic comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and raises the abuse of these medications to an epidemic status. More than 15,000 people have died, and half a million more have had to be transported to emergency rooms due to overdoses of these medications.
From Medical Use to Addiction
This was never supposed to be the case. These medications, when applied properly and used under the care of a physician, are instrumental in the immediate relief of severe and chronic pain. They are prescribed for patients who are suffering from broken bones, cancer, the effects of surgery or extreme injuries as well as palliatives for people in pain whose diagnosis is terminal. They are extremely effective in these instances. The problem comes when they are abused by healthy people or when a patient succumbs to the extremely addictive effect that these opiates have. Some of the patients for whom these drugs are prescribed are veterans who have been wounded in the service of their country, and the addictive effect of painkilling drugs on wounded soldiers is a very common problem. Others are older or middle-aged people who perhaps became addicted to the medication while in the hospital or during recuperation and now cannot manage without it. Finally, there are young people who take the drugs hoping for a euphoric effect and become dependent on them.
Legal Vs Illegal
Normally, painkilling medications are available when prescribed by a physician to a specific patient for a specific condition. This is a perfectly appropriate use of the drug and is legal. However, when the drugs are taken by someone other than the patient for any reason or are obtained through a questionable source, they are no longer legal. The evolution of the “pill mill,” a place to get prescriptions from doctors almost for the mere asking, has become a serious cause for concern in several states. The street value of these drugs is far higher than what they would cost at a legitimate pharmacy, and the desperation of the user makes for a flourishing market.
Federal and State Response
Action from law enforcement and government authorities has not been without effect. Although the problem is still serious, declines in the abuse of prescription medications have been seen in the last several years. Physicians, pharmacies and other entities that either dispense or distribute prescription painkillers have come under scrutiny, and laws have been enacted in several states to address this situation and force those who unlawfully dispense these substances to be accountable for their actions. Since there is considerable variation between the states as to what the laws are, how they read and how they are enforced, you should seek the advice of an experienced New York drug attorney for more information. If you’re a healthcare provider, you may face a medicare audit as a result of overprescribing – or possible drug diversion, according to fellow attorney Steve Raiser.
Find Out More
For legal counsel, assistance, information or other help concerning the laws about abuse of prescription painkilling medications, contact Frederick L. Sosinsky, your New York drug lawyer, by calling (212) 285-2270 today.