The opioid crisis continues to draw attention of the national media. The crisis has been used to explain everything from the increased mortality rates for some Americans to President Trump’s popularity in rural America.
One aspect that has not drawn nearly enough attention is the link between opioid use and criminal history. According to recent research, however, the link between the two is strong.
“More Common Than We Expected”
As reported by MedPage Today, researchers who have examined the link between opioid use and crime have been impressed by the connection. At least 50% of those with a prescription opioid disorder had contact with the criminal justice system–contact that was more common than researchers expected.
Researchers from various universities looked at data for nearly 79,000 respondents and classified people based on their highest use of opioids:
- 63.2% reported no opioid use
- 31.3% reported using opioids with a prescription
- 4.3% reported misusing opioids in ways their doctor had not prescribed
- 0.8% reported opioid dependence or abuse
- 0.4% reported using heroin
As researchers found, the more a person used opioids, the more likely they had of criminal justice involvement:
- Only 15.9% of those with no opioid use had contact with the criminal justice system
- 22.4% of those who used opioids with a prescription had contact
- 33.2% of those who misused opioids had contact
- 51.7% of those with an opioid use disorder had contact
- 76.8% of those who used heroin had contact
This recent study contradicts a study nearly 30 years ago from Scotland that found that moderate opioid use did not increase one’s likelihood of committing a crime. Instead, the most recent study has found a substantial difference in crime rates between those who do not use opioids and those who misuse or abuse them.
More Treatment in Jail is Needed
Given the higher rates of contact with the criminal justice system, opioid users and abusers are ending up in jail. Unfortunately, jails and prisons have not kept up with the times. Although they treat a variety of health conditions—such as diabetes and hypertension—they currently do not have the capacity to offer treatment for opioid abuse.
Unfortunately, public pressure does not seem to be building, perhaps because people assume that being in jail is a good chance for someone to detox. However, as experts have explained, cutting off opioids from an addict does not cure them. Instead, it puts them at greater risk of death from an overdose later because their tolerance will be lower.
What abusers and addicts need is medication-assisted treatment, which is the most effective means of treating opioid addiction. Based on one analysis, addicts who leave a medication-assisted treatment program experienced a 60% drop in overdose deaths.
Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys in Your Corner
After an arrest, our clients are in fear of the future and many are also struggling with an opioid addiction. You need caring legal guidance.
At Moses & Rooth, our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys has your best interests at heart. We can work diligently toward a favorable outcome, whether a plea deal, dismissed charges, or an acquittal at trial. For more information about how we can help, please schedule a free consultation by calling 407-377-0150.