When most people hear the term "drug crimes," they may imagine illicit substances such as marijuana, heroin or methamphetamine. While these illegal substances are certainly an issue, the umbrella of drug crimes is much wider. It also includes prescription medications.
It is unlawful to use prescription medications without a prescription, and the same applies to distributing them. Misusing prescription medications can result in jail time and hefty fines.
There are plenty of drugs that people in the United States abuse, but here are the most prevalent categories and common brand names:
- Opioids/Narcotics: OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Dilaudid, Lorcet, Tylox and Percodan
- Stimulants: Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta
- Depressants: Xanax, Valium and Librium
Many people improperly use these drugs because they are relatively inexpensive and accessible in comparison to street drugs such as heroin and meth.
Methods of obtaining and distributing prescription drugs
Individuals gain access to these drugs using several methods. Some individuals visit several doctors, lie about their medications and receive numerous prescriptions. In other cases, people steal drugs from family members, friends or pharmacies. Some people who have valid prescriptions sell or give away medications. Additionally, some pharmacists, nurses and doctors steal or fraudulently sell prescription drugs.
There are several risks of abusing prescription drugs, depending on the type. Depressants often cause respiratory issues, seizures, memory issues and a slower heart rate. Opioid and narcotic abuse can cause low blood pressure, a reduction in breathing and risk of coma. Stimulants may result in irregular heart rate, high body temperature, fatal seizure, paranoia, hallucinations, aggressiveness and cardiovascular system failure. Overdose can result in coma or death. People who abuse any of these drugs via injection also face the risk of blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV.
Those who abuse prescription medications may face criminal charges. Unlawfully possessing and distributing drugs is against the law and punishable by imprisonment, fines and a criminal record.
It is imperative that you enlist the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer who can minimize the impact of criminal charges and help obtain treatment for addiction if that is appropriate.