Along with the current health crisis and recession that has hit the United States in 2020, the ever-present and sometimes forgotten opioid crisis is only spreading. According to a recent U.S. News article, opioid misuse has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999, and in Illinois, opioid overdose claimed nearly six lives per day in 2018.
What is aggravating the opioid crisis is that illicitly manufactured, highly addictive fentanyl is being mixed in with other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine in illegal drug markets.
Anxiety over the current health crisis, infrequent visits to healthcare providers and more social isolation increase tendencies toward addiction and drug use. When there is less supervision from a supportive social network, there are also fewer opportunities for an intervention.
In 2018, Illinois healthcare providers prescribed 45.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 patients, and even this rate was less than the previous year. The victims of opioid use disorder (OUD) range from family members, parents with young children to the middle-aged and even grandparents.
The addictions often start with a prescription with refills for pain relief after an accident, surgery or from chronic pain from cancer or other disease. Once the tolerance level to the drug increases over time and the opioid becomes less effective against the pain, many people become addicted.
They begin abusing the dosage and seek quicker methods of taking the drug in a different form, such as inhaling, snorting or dissolving in a solution and injecting. Once the legal prescription has expired, they will often try to find other ways of obtaining that drug or a similar one.
Defense against opioid drug charges
Opioids are considered to be a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) and include not only prescription drugs, but also heroin and synthetic fentanyl. The charges in Illinois for illegal opioid possession are stiff, carrying a fine for the first offense of up to $25,000 with four to 15 years in prison for possession of a drug like oxycodone without a prescription. The penalty for selling a CDS is even higher.
It is important to know your rights against illegal search and seizure, improper procedures for obtaining evidence or allegations of drug possession. If you are facing charges of opioid drug use, theft or fraud in obtaining a prescription drug, or a DUI of drugs, it is vitally important to get the aid of an expert criminal defense attorney to fight the charges.