Around 1 million people reported using heroin in 2016. That number only rose since.
The daunting number of heroin users is the result of an opioid epidemic which spread through the US in recent years. Easier access to addictive painkillers and pharmaceutical companies pushing doctors to sell led to the crisis.
Soon enough, regular use of prescription medicine became an addiction. Then addiction turned into an opioid syndrome. Now, over 115 people die every day from overdosing on opioids.
Unmentioned is the lawyer fees people incur as a result of the crisis. People can face consequences from using medicine that isn’t theirs. Harder drugs can result in fines and jail time.
Keep reading below to learn how the opioid crisis developed, and how to identify opioid syndrome in your community.
Causes of the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic began in the late 1980s. The medical community started looking at pain as a vital sign rather than a symptom. They started considering it as something that had to be treated itself, rather than its causes.
This created a need to quickly create pain therapies. Bolstered by marketing campaigns, pharmaceutical companies seemed to have the solution. They offered doctors opioids as an easy solution to pain, and patients took them eagerly. Between 1991 and 2011, pain medication peaked at 220 million prescriptions.
There were few regulations on how opioids could be distributed. Laws are now in the works to address companies roles in creating the crisis. But by 2011, pain mills were established which gave people pills for the slightest complaints.
However, medication is expensive. Soon enough, after people were addicted, they couldn’t afford to buy more. So they turned to illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl since they’re much cheaper. This landed some people not only in legal trouble but often cost them their lives.
Legal Consequences of Opioid Syndrome
Despite the issue currently being treated as a public health crisis, heroin and similar drugs are still illegal. Being caught with less than two grams of heroin can land someone with four years in prison. Up to 28 grams can get someone ten years.
However, the opioid crisis has sewn desperation, and desperate people can get themselves into trouble. To fund their addictions, people may try to start trafficking drugs. This carries harsh penalties, including 40 years in jail and $50,000 in fines.
The consequences only worsen if children are present, which is often the case. And while judges may be more lenient to drug users, since they’re seen as victims of a public crisis, there are still consequences.
What to Do if You or Someone You Know Shows Opioid Syndrome Signs
It can be tough to spot opioid syndrome in a person, especially if you know them. Most people will lie about their drug use, and try to handle it alone. But that seldom ends well. Look for rapid weight loss or a sudden change in behavior.
If you notice any of these signs, reach out to them. Try to talk to them about their drug use. It’s usually a result of another problem they’re struggling with.
And while it may be hard, sometimes it can get to the point where it’s time to lawyer up. Drug use is itself a crime, but it can lead to worse ones. If it gets to that point, you want caring and understanding lawyers who will do their jobs. Contact us, and we’ll help you through the process.