R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Opioid addiction in connection to incarceration

Following surgical procedures or in an effort to ease chronic pain, opioid medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine are often prescribed. Though these prescription narcotics tend to help with pain relief, they are known to be highly addictive. For some, this leads to trouble with the law.

Over time, narcotics can cause both physical and emotional problems. As tolerance develops, one might feel the need for an increased dosage, though a refilled prescription may not be medically necessary.

What a recent study suggests

According to a study published in a recent JAMA journal, those who reported opioid use have "high levels of involvement in the criminal justice system." In one case, more than half of the people sampled, who reported either heroin use or a disorder related to prescription opioid use, have had contact with the criminal justice system.

In understanding there may exist a connection between opioid addiction and trouble with law enforcement, it might also be important to look at treatment options for those with drug addictions, during the course of their incarceration.

Treatment during incarceration

Though the FDA has drugs approved for treating opioid use disorders, most prisons and jails do not offer drug treatment. And, although some experts believe medication-related treatment is the most effective way to treat opioid addiction, in many cases treatment ends once someone is in custody. For inmates not on a treatment regimen, they, too, must detox cold turkey.

As one expert suggests, not treating opioid addiction as a disease while incarcerated can increase a person's chances of overdosing. If someone relapses following their release, their body may no longer be able to tolerate the drugs, or the variety of drugs available at that time.

Opioid use remains an issue for the medical field, law enforcement and beyond. However, while opioid abuse might increase your involvement with law enforcement officers, there is help available to fight against drug charges.

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