In recent years, the way we view illicit drugs has changed significantly. Prescription drugs, like Oxycontin, that were once thought to be safe are now having worse effects on the body than long-time illegal drug, marijuana.
As the difference between illegal and legal drugs continues to blur, it’s important for people to understand that legal drugs can still be used illegally. Here are just a few ways that using legal drugs can lead to criminal penalties.
Illegal sale and purchase of prescription drugs
Because prescription drugs are legal, many people make the mistake of believing they won’t be prosecuted for possessing it. However, this is only true if you can produce a prescription confirming that the drug has been prescribed to you. Sharing a prescription drug with someone else — even if they are a loved one — is illegal. Selling a prescription drug is a felony that could be penalized by up to five years in prison.
Doing this practice is also dangerous to your health since there is no doctor or pharmacist to detect risks that may be associated with taking the drug based on other prescription drugs you take or your genetic predisposition to certain side effects.
Switching to street drugs
Numerous studies have shown that the opioid, OxyContin was heavily marketed and as a result, heavily over-prescribed in the late 90s and early 2000s. Because Oxycontin targets the body’s opioid receptors, it has a high likelihood of producing addiction in patients who use it. As more and more people were using the drug for minor ailments a government crackdown imposed new protocol that made the drug more difficult to obtain.
However, with many patients already addicted, studies have shown that they simply moved to another opioid that could produce the same effects for a fraction of the price, heroin. In fact, some studies have found as many as 80 percent of all heroin users started with a prescription painkiller.
Because prescription painkillers do not carry the same stigma as street drugs, it’s fairly common that they can become a gateway drug for other types of opioids.
Not all drivers realize that DWIs can be issued to drivers who are under the influence of prescription drugs if that substance is impairing the person’s ability to drive. This is typical for prescriptions that advise users not to operate heavy machinery for a certain number of hours after taking the medication.
A first-time DWI offender in Texas can face a fine up to $2,000, a jail sentence of 3 days or up to 180 days and license suspension.