Prescription drug abuse has seen all-time high in recent years. The misuse of drugs such as opioids and benzodiazepines are only a few names in the world of drug abuse. In addition to the negative effects these chemicals can have on the body, prescription drug abuse has trickled into public health, social welfare, and even the outlook of future generations. Initially used for treatments such as the reducing of chronic pain and improving quality of life, prescription drugs have begun dominating South Carolina with crippling cases of dependence and addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 1.9 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2013, with 517,000 suffering from a heroin use disorder. NIDA, along with National Institutes of Health, has partnered with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to address the issue of prescription drug abuse. Plans include research to improve opioid prescribing practices, strategies to make the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone more accessible to those in need, and the development of new approaches to treatment with reduced potential for opioid misuse.
Because of the severity of the prescription drug epidemic, penalties for drug abuse are taken seriously. Drug Possession Laws states that prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Even if the patient is prescribed to the medication, penalties can occur if the patient is caught selling the prescription or “doctor shopping,” a method in which the patient visits different doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions. Other tactics used include the forging of signatures and obtaining prescription drugs by fraud.
The penalty, charge, and sentence time for prescription drug abuse depends on the type of drug possessed and its quantity. These drugs are categorized on their level of potency and potential for abuse. Other factors include location and options for treatment through Drug Courts.