For many people, opioid, opiate and even heroin addiction start with an illness or injury. One day, something happens that causes serious pain. It could be a car accident or joint replacement surgery. Whatever the reason, you seek out medical care. Your doctor, in turn, provides you with a prescription for very strong and highly addictive painkillers. When your underlying condition improves, your prescription ends. Unfortunately, your dependence on the medication does not.
In order to maintain a basic quality of life and stave off the terrible symptoms of withdrawal, you find yourself talking to a co-worker, friend or neighbor about his or her unused medication. You start buying pills from people, sometimes for incredibly marked-up prices, to keep yourself healthy and functioning. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, until law enforcement finds the pills in your possession.
Prescription drug abuse is illegal in Georgia
Prescribed medications are subject to regulation and government control. Only certified medical professionals can prescribe and dispense these medications, due, in part, to their addictive nature, the potential for abuse and the risk of serious side effects. Those who have a prescription for powerful painkillers may only use the medication as instructed by a doctor. Any other kind of use is abuse under the law, and illegal.
Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is increasingly common in the United States. Thousands of people every single day must seek medical treatment for side effects related to the abuse of prescribed medications. Overdoses, dependence and even damage to the organs can happen. However, treating addiction like a criminal act has done nothing to decrease rates of abuse. This is a public health issue, but one that is being very poorly handled at the moment.
Addicts need treatment, not prison
Although addicts may find themselves behind bars, that will not address their addiction. Many people in prison are still able to get their hands on addictive substances. Simply incarcerating a person for using a prescribed drug inappropriately or buying prescription medication on the black market will not address the underlying dependence. Treatment for addiction, medical care during withdrawal and social support are all necessary for someone to fully recover and return to one’s previous life.
Depending on your circumstances, a drug treatment program could be a much better option for your recovery than incarceration. Convincing the courts of this fact will likely require professional help.
Possession of a controlled substance is a serious criminal offense which carries as much as 15 years in prison, depending on the circumstances. Diversion to a treatment program, plea deals that require substance abuse therapy as part of probation or even a reduction or change in charges could help you avoid prison and get the help you need to overcome your addiction.