According to recent statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents. Every nineteen minutes, someone dies of a drug overdose; four out of five of those deaths are attributed to prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (Percocet and OxyContin), hydrocodone (Lortab and Vicodin), morphine and methadone.
The anti-anxiety medication alprazolam (Xanax) was also a significant contributor to fatal drug overdoses. While prescription drug abuse is a considered a national epidemic by the CDC, the problem is of special concern in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's Prescription Drug Problem
As of 2010, the state ranked ninth in overdose deaths related to opioid pain relievers, and it ranked first in the nation for non-medical use of painkillers, according to a report by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The rise in prescription drug distribution also gives rise to drug crimes:
- Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
- Transportation or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance
- fraud, including doctor shopping, prescription pad theft, and illegally prescribed drugs
Illegal transportation or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance is a felony that carries heavy state or Federal consequences:
- Fine of up to $100,000
- Forfeiture of assets including cash, vehicles, or other assets purchased with drug sale profits
- Mandatory drug testing, counseling, and/or rehabilitation
- Probation or parole
- Maximum sentence of life in prison
While many people have a stereotypical image of a back alley drug dealer, these drug crimes affect people of all socio-economic status. From teenagers getting high off of medications found in their grandparents' medicine cabinets to middle class adults who become addicted to painkillers after a serious injury, anyone can become a victim of prescription drug abuse.
What To Do If You Are Charged
Those who find themselves addicted to prescribed medications may turn to illegal methods of obtaining the drugs needed to fuel their addictions. Purchasing others' medication or stolen drugs, stealing prescription pads, doctor shopping, or finding a physician willing to illegally prescribe drugs are all illicit ways of obtaining prescription painkillers or anti-anxiety medications.
Those who find themselves trapped in this situation may also find themselves facing criminal charges for possession of a controlled dangerous substance or other drug offense. It is important to hire an attorney who can launch an aggressive defense to help avoid or minimize the consequences of conviction.
Find a drug defense lawyer in Oklahoma with experience defending clients against these types of charges. Click here to learn more.