Drug addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that 52 million people have used prescription drugs, without a medical reason to do so, at some point during their life. In 2010 5.1 million people abused pain killers, 2.2 million people used tranquilizers and 1.1 million people used stimulants. Sadly, when these people are arrested and charged with drug crimes, they are incarcerated instead of receiving the treatment that they need.
Recently, theft charges were filed against a woman from Mahtomedi who allegedly took a prescription drug called hydromorphone from the hospital she worked at. In 2012, the hospital noticed that over a month’s period of time, there were 29 reported discrepancies concerning the drug. When they opened an investigation, the woman’s name kept popping up.
The investigation showed that the woman’s electronic swipe card was used to access the emergency department. There it is alleged that the woman took names of patients who were discharged from the hospital. She then used those names, along with a fingerprint scan, to receive the drug from a dispensing machine. However, when investigators checked, it was determined that the drug had never been prescribed to the patients who were listed. It was also discovered that the woman’s card and fingerprint were used on days that she was not scheduled to work.
Hydromorphone is related to morphine and is considered to be habit-forming. The woman is facing two counts of theft and it is uncertain whether she is still working at the hospital. Allegedly she admitted to hospital officials that she had taken the drug and used it on herself. It is not clear if she used the drug due to an addiction or how much of the drug was taken.
If the woman is convicted of the charges against her relating to the prescription drug thefts, a judge just might recognize that she needs help and sentence her to a drug treatment program. When people have committed a drug related offense, they may be able to go through one of Minnesota’s drug courts. These courts focus on problem-solving approaches rather than punishment and are designed to help people break free of their addiction.
A Minnesota study conducted in 2012 showed the effectiveness of drug courts. The study showed that people who participated in a drug court program were less likely to be rearrested with a new drug offense than people who went through the traditional criminal system. Furthermore, the state saved money on incarceration costs and drug courts allowed people to become productive citizens, gaining employment, improving their home life and making good choices. For these people, drug court gave them a chance to change their lives.