The number of drug overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers in 2014 was higher than the number of drug ODs caused by any other form of drug, according to figures recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Not only were prescription drugs responsible for the greater number of overdose deaths, that figure is also trending in the wrong direction. CDC Director Tom Frieden commented on the recent report and observed that overdose deaths caused by painkiller abuse rose by almost 10 percent. With more and more people, especially young people, committing drug crimes by turning to illegal drugs after becoming addicted to legally prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone, health officials anticipate things getting far worse before they get better.
The shift away from prescription medication and toward other drugs presents a conundrum for lawmakers, medical experts and public health officials who are looking for solutions to this country’s drug problem. Although the total number of prescription opioid abusers in the U.S. has declined in recent years, the decrease has been more than offset by a corresponding increase in the total number of heroin users. In fact, almost half of young people who are addicted to heroin first became hooked on drug by using painkillers and other prescription opioids, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Experts have attempted to explain the growing popularity of heroin among teenagers, college students and other young people by pointing to the fact that heroin is a far cheaper alternative to most prescription medications. A CDC report found that painkillers are typically four times as expensive as heroin, making it an attractive alternative for individuals who are hooked on drugs and looking to feed their addictions. Making matters worse is the fact that heroin users are extremely likely to become heroin addicts due to the powerful effects of the drug. The end result is more heroin-related overdose deaths.
At present, drug addiction is already an epidemic in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in the United States. That’s why lawmakers, police officers and prosecutors are increasingly cracking down on drug crime offenders. A conviction for illegal prescription drug possession or prescription fraud in New Jersey can result in significant jail time and a permanent criminal record.
To learn more about the threats posed by prescription drug abuse, check out the Yahoo.com article entitled, “One Type of Legal Drug is Killing Far More People than Heroin – and Deaths Just Hit Record Numbers.”
If you or a loved one has been charged with prescription drug possession, marijuana possession or any other drug crime in South Jersey, you need a qualified criminal defense lawyer on your side. John W. Tumelty is a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with decades of experience as a defense lawyer and a former NJ prosecutor. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.