Heroin Epidemic Continues in America

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerAs drug overdose deaths continue to increase in America, one extremely addicting illegal substance, heroin, has officials across the country concerned. Nationwide, overdose deaths caused by heroin almost quadrupled from 2002 to 2013, and the problem is continuing to grow. With heroin a cheap and easy to find alternative to prescription opioids, addicting legal drugs prescribed to treat pain, the epidemic has affected Americans of all walks of life. Now, as the drug’s reach continues to expand, officials are worried that heroin users are purchasing and using the illegal substance in public places. Police officers across the country report finding people using heroin in public places like bathrooms, parks, fast-food restaurants, and libraries.

A Quick Fix

Due to heroin’s extreme addictiveness, officials say users purchase and use the drug as soon as they can find it, often in public places. “Users need the fix as quickly as they can get it,” says one police chief presiding over an area with widespread heroin use. “The physical and psychological need is so great for an addict that they will use it at the earliest opportunity.” Police officers across the country report finding drug users utilizing restrooms, cars, hospitals, libraries, and other busy public spaces to inject the drug, and some are found too late. Even if these public spaces were equipped to handle drug overdoses, which they are not, many users are found too late, locked in a bathroom or slumped over in the back of a public bus after a deadly overdose.

Problems for Everyone

Heroin use in public places is problematic for a number of reasons. First, it is dangerous for the drug users themselves, who may overdose without access to help. Treatment is available for heroin overdose, but requires immediate help from medical professionals. Some heroin users know this, and as an agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration reports, many addicts frequent towns where they know the medical staff is equipped to handle heroin overdoses. Other users, however, choose portable toilets and other enclosed places, and may be found unconscious or dead after injecting. Nationwide, 125 people die each day due to drug overdoses, and more than half of them are caused by heroin and painkillers.

Aside from consequences for the users themselves, the use of heroin in public affects others as well. Heroin addicts typically leave behind used, dirty needles that are potentially hazardous. Law enforcement across the country is also affected, as agencies are having to respond to increased incidents of heroin use in public. Businesses, concerned over legal liability, have been forced to close their restrooms and other spaces to the public. Everyday citizens are affected as well, as many of these overdoses occur in public with witnesses watching.

Is There a Solution?

Officials across the country say they expect the use of heroin in public to continue to increase, but are hopeful about a solution in the future. Some Americans have called for supervised injection facilities, places where users could inject themselves with medical help available, which have been successful in Canada and Europe. These sites are not yet legal in America, but as the heroin epidemic continues to creep into the public view, they may be considered. In Boston, one organization has plans to create a safe place where heroin users could come to ride out their high, although they would not be able to inject the drug onsite.

In addition to health consequences, heroin use could lead to serious legal consequences. Under the Illinois’ Controlled Substances Act, the possession, sale, or trafficking of heroin is a felony, with consequences depending on the factors such as the amount of heroin, previous offenses, and location of the crime. Prison time could be over 50 years depending on the circumstances. Not only are there serious legal consequences, but drug charges can damage your career, your family life, and your reputation.

If you are facing drug charges, you need the help of a qualified Chicago criminal defense attorney. Hal M. Garfinkel and his team have years of experience handling drug  offense cases, and will work aggressively to provide a quality defense. Call 312-629-0699 to schedule your free consultation immediately. Serious charges require the help of a serious criminal defense attorney with experience. Contact us today to learn more about how we can protect you.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/07/us/heroin-epidemic-increasingly-seeps-into-public-view.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=1

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