Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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America's opioid crisis must be properly addressed

People facing drug possession charges are often in the throes of an addiction to the drugs with which they are found. Opioids are one of the major problems that this country is facing. These drugs are highly addictive and can lead to a quick downfall for the people who become addicted. Often, their entire life will revolve around obtaining and using these drugs.

As a nation, the economic burden of opioids is around $78.5 billion annually. This includes involvement in the criminal justice system, lost productivity, health care and addiction treatment. More than 130 individuals pass away from opioid overdose each year.

Not a new problem

The issue of opioid addiction isn't a new one for this country. Back in the late 1990s, health care providers began to prescribe opioid pain relievers at a higher rate. This was in a direct response to the pharmaceutical companies' claims that patients weren't going to become addicted to these drugs. The rise in prescriptions led to an increase in the misuse and overdose rates associated with them.

As time progressed, legal opioid use began to spawn a vast industry of illegal opioid drug usage. This isn't limited only to prescription drugs. It also includes fentanyl, that is illegally manufactured, and heroin. It is sometimes thought that the increase in prescription drug addiction leads to illegal drug usage, so it is necessary to address both problems at the same time.

Addressing the issue

One of the primary ways that drug abuse is addressed in this country is through the criminal justice system. Strict laws have been enacted that make it clear that states and court systems aren't going to stand by while people misuse opioids.

Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has very little to offer that can help defendants to address the problem of addiction. There are some drug courts that can provide strict oversight with the goal of keeping the person off the drugs, but these programs have strict requirements. For people who go to prison or jail, there is often little to no help to battle the addiction.

People facing criminal charges for opioids need to think about the options they have for presenting their defense. Make sure to capitalize on ways that you can address the underlying addiction so that you won't find yourself back in the same position again.

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