No family is immune to the epidemic of opioid abuse. Earlier this month, Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor revealed her two sons, both in their 20s, were battling drug addiction. She came forward with the information a day after her state's attorney general filed a lawsuit against five manufacturers of prescription painkillers. Taylor's sons have endured two overdoses, multiple emergency room visits and failed stints in drug rehab. One son is still in treatment for his addiction to opioids.
According to the lawsuit, Ohio is one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, where one county in particular averages a fatal overdose every day. Across the nation, including here in Washington, opioid overdoses have surpassed traffic crashes as the leading cause of accidental death. In addition to an increased mortality rate, opioid abuse leads to higher crime rates.
Police crime lab data for Washington State shows a 134 percent increase in cases associated with opioids between 2002 and 2016. When addicts can no longer obtain prescriptions legally, they make illegal purchases. And, when they can not afford the drugs, they turn to crime to pay for them.
According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals:
- 80 percent of offenders abuse drugs or alcohol.
- 50 percent of jail and prison inmates are addicts.
- 60 percent of those arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illicit drugs.
- 60 to 80 percent of drug abusers commit a new -- typically drug-driven -- crime after release from prison.
- 95 percent (approximately) return to drug abuse after release from prison.
- 60 to 80 percent of addicted offenders drop out of treatment early when they are not supervised by a judge.
The traditional response to illegal drug use is imprisonment, but many believe this only perpetuates the drug problem. Municipalities now are initiating drug courts that have strong treatment components. In Washington State, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Department of Social and Health Services have collaborated on specialty courts, including several courts specifically for those accused of certain drug-related crimes, including:
- Adult Drug Court, which strives to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among nonviolent offenders through early, continuous and intense judicially supervised treatment, mandatory periodic drug testing, community supervision and use of appropriate sanctions and other rehabilitation services.
- Juvenile Drug Court, which works with selected delinquency cases in which young offenders are identified as having problems with drugs or alcohol. Over the course of a year or more, a court-assigned team meets almost weekly to decide how to best address the juvenile's substance abuse issues.
- Family Drug Court, in which cases can be seen in either juvenile or family court when a parent's substance abuse is a primary factor. Judges, attorneys, child protection services and treatment personnel work together to provide unite with the goal of providing safe, permanent homes for children while providing parents the support and services to become drug- and alcohol-free.
Regardless of the circumstances, if you or a family member are facing charges related to drug use, you deserve the best defense. Call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.
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