Heroin Addiction on the Rise, Arrests Soon to Follow

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Anna Lee of the Greenville News wrote a story recently describing the growing use of heroin in Greenville County and the struggles of those battling this addiction (https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article48557735.html).

The resurgence of heroin in Greenville is not an isolated event. Nationwide, heroin use has skyrocketed in the last decade.

A 2015 article published by U.S. News and World Report has linked the rise in heroin use to the growing problem of opioid dependency:

“Heroin abuse is tightly tied to prescription drug abuse. Almost half of people addicted to heroin are also addicted to painkillers. People are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin if they are addicted to prescription painkillers.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/08/19/the-heroin-epidemic-in-9-graphs.

The clear link between opioid addiction and heroin does not go unnoticed in our criminal justice system. It has been accepted in our courthouses that prescription painkillers (opioids) are possibly the most addictive and destructive drugs we have ever dealt with. A common theme in cases of opioid addiction is that it begins with medication that has been made available through a lawful prescription for a legitimate medical issue. A significant portion of those who begin legitimately taking these drugs develop a chemical dependency that is too difficult to overcome.

 

The volume of opioids being prescribed and distributed to the public also creates a surplus of unused medication which makes these drugs easily available to those who use them recreationally and then become addicted. According to the above report , “Enough painkillers were prescribed by American doctors during one month in 2010 to medicate every American around the clock for an entire month.”

What does this mean to someone that finds themselves facing criminal charges that are directly or indirectly related to an addiction to heroin or opioids?

First, the fact that your addiction may have started through a legitimate prescription is not uncommon and most prosecutors and judges understand that.

Second, states are starting to more closely monitor and stop inappropriate prescriptions of painkillers. Unfortunately, these restrictions have come too late. While these changes are necessary, those who can no longer get the drugs from their doctors are turning to heroin. Every individual who is found to have violated our laws will not avoid ultimately being held responsible for their actions. Hopefully, the shortcomings of our government and healthcare systems to fix the problem will also be given some consideration.

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