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Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis: alternatives to prison could be the answer

| Mar 1, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The opioid addiction crisis continues to rage in America’s cities and suburbs, as well as its small towns like Franklin. Millions of Americans struggle with addiction to powerful drugs like fentanyl.

Addiction often starts after a doctor prescribes one of these painkillers to treat an injury’s symptoms. Opioids are highly addictive. For many people, legitimate treatment quickly becomes dependence. They find themselves doing things they would never have considered before, like doctor shopping, theft and drug trafficking, to support their habit. Once opioids become too expensive or hard to get ahold of, many addicts are forced to turn to heroin.

Everyone agrees that opioid addiction is a major problem in Pennsylvania. But not everyone agrees on what to do about it. So far, it seems like harsh prison sentences have not helped much. Instead, many experts argue that opioid dependence should be treated as a public health crisis, not a crime wave.

Pennsylvania AG suggests alternatives to prison for opioid addiction

Focusing on treatment rather than punishment was the theme of a recent virtual public hearing hosted by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, which state Attorney General Josh Shapiro attended. Shapiro noted that addiction treatment is often hard to find in rural parts of the state. He suggested changing the regulations to make it easier for doctors to prescribe drugs that help get addicts off opioids and heroin. Shapiro also said that health insurance companies operating in Pennsylvania should not be allowed to continue to put up barriers to treatment that are banned by state and federal laws.

Possibilities for many charged with a drug crime

Shapiro’s point is that making addiction treatment available to everyone in Pennsylvania is the most effective way of dealing with the crisis. This may be true, but possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription is still against the law. If you are arrested on suspicion of possession or trafficking of opioids, you may be able to get treatment instead of a prison sentence. Discuss the charges with a defense attorney to find out more.