After suffering an injury, many people in Pennsylvania head to the doctor for treatment, which frequently includes a prescription for pain medication. This is often necessary to be able to function somewhat normally while undergoing physical therapy or other rehabilitation. However, if the doctor is not monitoring the situation closely, a temporary dependence on an opioid medication, also known as a narcotic, could turn into a serious substance abuse problem.
The brain receives pain signals from injured areas of the body, and opioid drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin lower the strength of those messages. Narcotics also produce calming effects on the emotions. When a prescription runs out, a person may feel compelled to seek more of an opioid to reproduce the positive feelings. However, prescriptions for controlled substances can be expensive, and even purchasing them illegally may be costly.
Experts at the University of Pittsburgh say the proliferation of opioid prescriptions has been the start of the serious heroin problem in the state. The drug can be acquired easily and for less money than prescription opioids, and it works on the same pain centers in the brain. Unfortunately, heroin addicts in Pennsylvania who are charged with possession of drugs are more likely to be sent to prison than to substance abuse treatment.
Those who have developed a chemical dependency could be looking at serious consequences if they are convicted of a drug offense. An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to help identify the best defense for people who find themselves facing drug charges.
Source: Bradford Era, “Passageway: Gateway drug to heroin is as close as medicine cabinet,” Sandy Rhodes, Feb. 29, 2016