Prescription painkillers and addiction are driving an underground market that can leave doctors, patients, as well as illegal users susceptible to criminal charges. According to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has the highest rate of painkiller prescriptions in the country with 143 prescriptions per 100 people. Other medical and public health officials are concerned that over-prescribing is leaving Alabama residents vulnerable to long-term addiction to narcotics including Loritab, Vicodin, Lorcet, and Oxycontin.
Analysts say that the one common ingredient in all of these painkillers is hydrocodone. For those who legitimately need painkillers, over-prescribing could threaten their availability. Doctors with legitimate cause and patients who rely on painkillers could also face criminal investigations or liability. Our Birminghamprescription drug defense attorneys understand the complexities involving painkillers and criminal liability. While we understand the dangers of over-prescription and illegal sales and distribution, we are also committed to preventing the legal rights of individuals under investigation and charged with crimes. Our attorneys are abreast of the legal trends that impact our clients and the citizens of Alabama.
In many cases, patients who have become reliant on painkillers will continue to return to their doctors to increase a prescription or to refill a prescription. Some patients will “doctor hop” and obtain multiple prescriptions from different doctors to meet their needs. Experts suggest that the problem is two-fold: patients are getting refills and increased prescriptions even when they may not be necessary. Doctors could also be using prescriptions as a way to increase office traffic. According to a representative from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the increased demand is actually from individuals who are not using the prescriptions for a medical reason, but to get high or because they can sell them on the black market.
The new data is an analysis of records collected in 2012. Public health professionals are hoping to use the data to make a difference in reducing the number of prescriptions in the state of Alabama. As with any policy change, medical professionals must weigh the pros and cons of cutting off or reducing painkiller prescriptions. For those who legitimately need medication, cutting off a prescription could have severe and painful consequences. Though the number of painkiller prescriptions in Alabama remains high, the number of overdosed has decreased, though this also has been linked to a rise in heroin abuse.
Individuals who have been arrested or charged with painkiller possession or illegal distribution should consult with an experienced advocate as soon as possible. Criminal charges related to prescription medication can be severe and often impact those who were acting innocently. Doctors and patients could face serious criminal penalties without representation. Drug crimes charges can be challenged on a violation of 4th Amendment search and seizure law. If you believe that you, your vehicle, home or office were illegally searched, an attorney may be able to get that evidence suppressed and your charges dropped. Individuals who have a legal prescription and have been charged with a crime should consult with an experienced defense attorney.
If you have been arrested in Birmingham, call Defense Lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.