According to statistics, more than 18 million women reported using prescription pain medications in 2014. Many were stay-at-home moms who admitted to opioid use to cope with the stress of motherhood. In Minneapolis, a drug attorney St. Paul often sees drug crimes linked to addiction.
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Moms and Opiate Addiction
Recent studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show concerning statistics for addicted stay-at-home moms who use opiates as a coping strategy. Although it’s uncertain why women are increasingly prone to painkiller abuse, higher instances of chronic pain may be a factor. In 2014, 28,000 women died from opioid overdose, and at least half of those deaths involved prescription painkillers. Currently, more men die of fatal overdoses than women each year, but those numbers are rapidly changing. Between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died as a result of overdose from prescription pain pills.
Studies also show that small children whose mothers are struggling with opiate addiction are significantly more likely to suffer an overdose than children of mothers who take over-the-counter pain medications. The instance of overdose is 2 1/2 times higher in children whose mothers are prescribed opioids. Findings underscore how dangerous it can be to keep opioids like OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, and methadone in a house with toddlers. In some overdose cases, the victims are less than a year old. Since babies this young are not likely to reach or pick up a pill on their own, neglect or even malice by the addicted mother is suspected.
The Opiate Epidemic
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of people who were admitted to treatment centers for narcotic-painkiller addiction has increased by 400 percent over the last decade. During this period, fatal overdoses and drug crimes handled by a drug attorney in St. Paul have more than tripled. Statistics show that Xanax (a sedative), Ritalin (a stimulant), and opioid pain pills like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin and are increasingly being used by men and women of every age group, race, education level, and geographic region across the country.
A recent study shows that the abuse of prescription drugs is exploding, while addiction to alcohol and other drugs is dropping. Health officials attribute the increase in opioid drug use to easy availability; reports show that there are more opiate painkillers in circulation in the U.S. than any other country worldwide. In 1995, for example, the FDA approved controlled release for Oxycontin with no oversight or monitoring.
Today, many physicians prescribe opioid drugs for even minimal pain. In 1996, pain was adopted as a vital sign by physicians who were encouraged to ask patients about pain the same way they would check a patient’s temperature or blood pressure. Patients often go to the doctor’s office in pain and expect to walk out with a prescription. In a busy practice, doctors save time by writing a prescription that gives the patient immediate relief, without adequate thought about the addictive potential or abuse of the drug.
Drug Convictions in Minnesota
In Minnesota, a drug attorney in St. Paul sees serious crimes that result from drug addiction. Addicts sometimes resort to theft and violent crimes to support their drug habits. If convicted of a drug crime in Minnesota, penalties and fines can be harsh, even for a first offense. Although recent sentencing reforms offer lighter penalties for lower-level crimes, a conviction can still result in serious penalties, jail time, and a permanent criminal record.
Under Minnesota drug possession laws, penalties are based on the type and amount of the illegal substance:
1st Degree Convictions
Sale: to 17 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine; 10 grams of heroin; 50 grams of other narcotics; 200 doses of hallucinogens; and 50 kilos of marijuana.
Possession: 50 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine; 25 grams of heroin; or 500 marijuana plants.
First-degree convictions carry up to 30 year prison sentences and fines up to $1 million.
2nd Degree Convictions
Sale: 10 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine; 3 grams of heroin; 50 doses of hallucinogens; 10 kilos of marijuana.
Possession: 25 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine: 6 grams of heroin, 50 grams of other narcotics; 100 doses of hallucinogens; and 25 kilos of marijuana or 100 marijuana plants.
Second degree convictions carry up to 25 year prison sentences and fines of up to $500,000.
3rd, 4th, and 5th Degree Convictions
With recent sentencing changes, there are no longer minimum sentencing requirements for third-, fourth-, or fifth-degree offenses. However, the severity of the crime and aggravating factors may impact sentencing with convictions that carry 20 year prison sentences and fines up to $250,000.
With new Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines imposed on August 1, 2016, a drug attorney in St. Paul can often reduce charges and jail time by proposing drug treatment programs for lower-level drug offenders.