The opioid epidemic in the United States is a multifaceted issue. For one thing, around 10 million people use prescription medications incorrectly every single year, and tens of thousands pass away from overdoses. Oftentimes, these individuals use opioids or painkillers for recreational purposes, perhaps because they are addicted.
But there’s also a legal side to the opioid epidemic. Doctors have been accused of running “pill mills” where they give out more prescription pills than patients need or fill invalid prescriptions. Some doctors have been accused of writing false prescriptions and selling medication on the black market. Moreover, individuals are sometimes accused of illegally sharing medications, even if they initially filled their prescription legally.
How did this start?
This issue largely began back in the 1990s. It had become clear that high-strength painkillers were very effective, especially for people who were dealing with chronic pain, who had been through surgery or who had suffered major injuries. New painkillers could limit suffering and help people relax and focus on healing.
At the time, the medical community was told that new high-strength painkillers would not be addictive. They would be helpful for patients, but the patients would not become dependent on them. Healthcare providers believed this, so they increased the amount of prescriptions they were writing and did not worry about giving people doses that may seem excessive by modern standards. Over time, though, it became clear that these painkillers were actually highly addictive. Many people who had been given prescriptions were already trapped in this addiction, and the opioid epidemic exploded.
Are you facing accusations?
The health impact of this epidemic can’t be ignored, but the legal impacts also need to be thoughtfully considered. Many people are facing very serious charges, perhaps because they are already addicted or because they are accused of fueling this addiction – by selling, sharing or prescribing illegal medication. Doctors and other medical professionals run the risk of losing their licenses, and people can even wind up spending years behind bars and paying thousands of dollars in fines due to their connection to the epidemic.
Anyone who is facing these types of accusations must know what legal defense options they have by seeking legal guidance. Especially when addiction is a factor in someone’s case, there may be options for them to pursue recovery and avoid significant criminal consequences simultaneously.