Misuse of narcotic painkillers widespread in Atlanta, nationwide

Atlanta residents who have fallen into trouble with narcotic painkillers will likely read a news story from the Associated Press with interest. The news organization surveyed crimes across the United States and found that people are increasingly driven to commit desperate acts like robbing pharmacies to obtain the drugs they so badly need.

That people are willing to face robbery, theft and drug charges speaks to how addictive these painkillers are. Prescriptions run out, but in some cases the need to have narcotic painkillers does not, which leads to some people obtaining the drugs illegally. Clearly, use of these medications, even legitimately at first, is leading some otherwise good people down the wrong path.

Narcotic painkillers are usually given to patients after surgery to help them manage pain as they heal. However, these drugs are so addictive than many people find themselves dependent upon them even after their medical need for the drugs has subsided. Prescription drugs are now the second most misused drug in America after marijuana. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates about 7 million American use painkillers unlawfully each year.

The Associated Press found that more and more pharmacies are getting robbed for their drugs. In 2006, 380 pharmacies were robbed. That number rose to 686 in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are complete. That is a jump of 81 percent. The number of pills stolen increased from 706,000 to 1.3 million. By far the most stolen medications were the oxycodone-based painkiller OxyContin and the hydrocodone-based painkiller Vicodin.

Obtaining drugs illegally is never okay, but the Associated Press’ findings clearly illustrate that a great many people have found themselves in dire situations because they have become dependent on painkillers. Misusing painkillers is far from a rare occurrence. Anyone accused of doing so will want to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, who will be able to hear your story and work with you to build a solid defense.

Source: MyFoxAtlanta, “Pharmacy Robberies Sweeping US,” June 25, 2011