Millions of people across the United States take prescription medication. Whether they are prescribed for a severe illness, to help anxiety, control pain, or promote better sleep, prescription-grade drugs help many people with their medical problems. However, when people use or possess these drugs without a prescription for real or recreational purposes, they may be breaking the law.

In 2011, the Office of National Drug Control Policy published a report entitled Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis, which claimed that illegal possession and use of prescription drugs is the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. As a result, illegal possession, distribution, and consumption of prescription drugs is on the rise, promoting an increase in prescription drug charges and convictions.

Prescription Drugs Commonly Cited in Drug Offense Arrests and Convictions

A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that nearly a third of drug users (aged 12 and over) began by using a prescription drug for recreational purposes. The reason behind this is that prescription drugs are not only easier to obtain than illicit “street drugs,” but they are also generally inexpensive—or even free, when stolen from family members or friends.

Another factor in the rise of prescription drug abuse is that many people believe that these compounds are safer than illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin, because they are prescribed by doctors. If they’re safe for patients, they’re safe for you, right?

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Depending on the drug, users can not only become seriously ill, overdose, or die from the effects, but their altered state could put others in jeopardy as well. This is why you could wind up being charged with a criminal offense and put in jail if law enforcement officers believe you have been taking, selling, or purchasing prescription-grade drugs without a valid prescription.

Common types of illegally-possessed prescription drugs include:

  • Pain relievers, narcotics, and opioids, such as Vicodin, Morphine, Codeine, Dilaudid, and Demerol
  • Depressants, including Klonopin, Valium, Rohypnol, and Phenobarbital
  • Tranquilizers and sedatives, such as Ativan and Ketamine
  • Antidepressants, including Xanax, Prozac, and Wellbutrin
  • Stimulants, such as Ritalin

Lowering Your Risks While Strengthening Your Defense

Considering how law enforcement is beginning to take prescription drug offenses more seriously, proving your prescriptions are valid is essential for avoiding charges. This means that it is a good idea to carry your pills in their original pharmacy bottles (with your information on them) and maintain access to your medical records. If you don’t have proof of your prescription, you’ll need a good defense attorney to help explain why you had the drugs in your possession.

Do you have questions about the law regarding prescription drugs? Contact us via the link on this page. We can clarify the law and help you if you are facing charges.

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