Addiction is a serious, sometimes life-threatening, condition that can impact people of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds. Genetics and upbringing can make a person more susceptible to addiction, but anyone who requires medical care and pain relief could wind up struggling with addiction.
Addiction to narcotic painkillers and heroin in the United States is currently at an epidemic level. People are struggling with addiction and dying from it every day across the country, including here in Virginia. Unfortunately, the government response to the addiction crisis has potentially made issues worse.
Many people who struggle with addiction, which is a health concern, wind up dealing with serious criminal charges. Treating narcotic addiction like a crime instead of a health and social issue does nothing to help those who struggle with addiction. In fact, it may make it harder for them to connect with the social support and medical treatment they need to pursue recovery and sobriety.
Cracking down on prescription drugs has pushed people toward heroin
In recent years, there has been a significant public backlash against pharmaceutical companies selling narcotic painkillers and doctors prescribing these medications in large numbers. Limiting the access of patients with addiction and chronic pain to narcotic painkillers does not solve the root issue of addiction.
Instead, it forces those in the grips of addiction to seek another source when they cannot get a prescription. They can leave people vulnerable to charges related to heroin, which can be severe.
Withdrawal symptoms from opiates and opioid painkillers can be severe and even fatal in extreme circumstances. Individuals who would never have considered buying drugs on the illegal, unregulated market may find themselves seeking heroin, fentanyl or other narcotics through illegal means to avoid withdrawal. They also risk arrest and criminal charges.
Those accused of narcotic or heroin crimes deserve support and help
Overcoming a narcotic painkiller or heroin addiction is not simple. Even the strongest person may require medicines to ease the pains of withdrawal and intensive support and counseling. Some people may have to try several times before they successfully end their personal cycle of addiction.
Unfortunately, many people who get caught in possession of heroin are addicts. They wind up facing criminal charges that could prevent them from ever overcoming their addiction. Prison is not an ideal environment for rehabilitation. There are drugs readily available, to say nothing of a toxic culture full of violence.
Those facing criminal charges related to addiction in Virginia should explore their legal options. First-time offenders may have the possibility of diversion to drug courts or even treatment in lieu of a criminal conviction. Carefully exploring your options and the details of the charges against you can help you determine the best way to move forward.