Crime and opiates have an apparent relationship that requires discussion. Nearly every aspect of society is affected by drug abuse and addiction. It puts a strain on local, state, and national economies, drives up healthcare costs, endangers lives, splits up families, and stretches the criminal justice system to its limit. The main threat in this day and age are opiates – in the form of prescription painkillers, especially fentanyl and heroin. These drugs have changed the very face of drug addiction. Every day people are getting dependent. Good people. Professional people. Young people. Older people.
The story goes like this for many people: Someone takes a prescription painkiller for an injury or illness. A tolerance builds, requiring more of the drug. Physical dependence develops. A person increases their consumption of the drug, and psychological dependence may set in, meaning the person could develop a drug addiction.
Many people end up switching from prescription painkillers to heroin. It’s cheaper on the street and oftentimes, more readily available. And it provides the same effects, such as relief of physical, psychological, and emotional pain. They both have the ability to dull the senses and numb unwanted feelings.
Desperation to Avoid Opiate Withdrawal Fuels Much of the Problem
At this point, many people become desperate. Opiate withdrawal can be so brutal that people will do anything to avoid it. Maintaining a drug dependency can be expensive, and people get desperate. They may resort to any number of crimes to fuel their habit. They may target friends, family members, neighbors, other patients, or strangers.
Some of the crimes that are most often associated with opiate abuse and opiate addiction are:
- Armed robberies
- Property thefts
- Home and car break-ins
- Bank robberies
- Drug dealers targeting other dealers for theft
- Theft of copper pipes from abandoned structures
- Prescription fraud
- Pharmacy theft
- Violent crimes such as assault, homicide
- Driving under the influence/traffic offenses
- Weapons violations
- Crimes against the elderly
- Fraud against government assistance programs
- Probation/parole violations
Certain Groups of People are Vulnerable When it Comes to Drug Addiction
The Office Of National Drug Control Policy says prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem facing the nation. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention call it an epidemic. Authorities at all levels of government are scrambling to deal with it. While anyone can be affected, these groups say those who are especially vulnerable include military personnel, veterans, children, and college-age people.
Opiate treatment centers and programs across the country are struggling to keep up. And this reactive approach focuses on treating the problem rather than preventing it. Non-medical use of opiates is on the rise and threatens us all in one way or another.