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How did the opioid epidemic start?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2023 | Drug Charges

The opioid epidemic has become a dire situation in the United States. Many people have become addicted to these drugs. Not only has this led to a lot of fatalities but it has also created a situation in which people are consistently arrested for drug offenses. They may not even want to be involved with these dangerous drugs, but their addiction means that criminal wrongdoing is virtually impossible for them to avoid until they are working an effective recovery program.

How did this start? It’s clear that opioids are addictive and dangerous, but why did people start taking these substances in the first place?

It began with prescription drugs

Back in the 1990s, opioids began to be used widely as painkillers. At the time, the danger wasn’t really understood. That’s why this was the first wave of the opioid epidemic. The drugs were often over-prescribed or people would get hooked on them after using them for legitimate concerns. For example, people would have surgery and then become addicted to the painkillers they took during their recovery.

However, it quickly became clear that opioids are addictive, and they began leading people to use other drugs. For example, in 2010, the most common drug in use was heroin. This is stronger than most painkillers being used at the time and people would gravitate from one to the next, as their tolerance increased and they searched for new substances to address their needs.

A few years after that, however, synthetic drugs begin to make their way onto the market. Fentanyl is perhaps the most popular and well-known of those drugs being used today. This led to even higher levels of addiction, because it is very cheap to make, extremely powerful and highly addictive. Additionally, fentanyl is highly dangerous and just a small amount can lead to an overdose.

What are your legal options?

What began as a medical treatment quickly spiraled out of control, and many people are now dealing with addiction issues that they find hard to manage on their own. This reality has led to widespread arrests for drug possession, drug sales, drug trafficking and the like. Those who are facing serious legal charges as a result of this epidemic need to know about their legal options and need to seek legal counsel as soon as they’re able to do so. Depending on their circumstances, they may be able to take advantage of drug court opportunities that can prevent a conviction and help them to manage substance abuse issues.