Houston Lawyer: Arrested For Illegal Prescription Drugs?


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Houston Lawyer: Arrested For Illegal Prescription Drugs?

  1. 1. Houston Lawyer: Arrested For Illegal Prescription Drugs?A drug can be legal when prescribed by a doctor, yet it can beillegal when someone uses it without a valid prescription. Ifyou are being investigated for a prescription drug crime, youcannot afford to be poorly represented. Houston CriminalLawyer Charles Johnson has expertly defended prescriptiondrug charges in Houston and throughout Texas.The Charles Johnson Law Firm regularly assists clients withdrug cases involving illegal prescription medications, such as:  Forging of prescriptions  Pharmacy fraud and prescription fraud  Illegal possession of prescription medications  Transportation of drugs  Distribution of drugs  Illegal buying prescription drugs online  Drug delivery, manufacturing and traffickingIf you have been charged with one or more of these offenses, you could be facing jail time and othersignificant consequences. It is important to know what to do in the days following an arrest and how anexperienced attorney can build a vigorous defense for your charges. In many cases he will be able to haveyour case dismissed entirely. Call Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson at (713) 222-7577 to discuss yourcase. Attorney Johnson answers the phone 24 hours per day and offers you a free initial consultation.Hire the Best Houston Drug Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law FirmPrescription drug abuse is on the rise in Texas. There are many possible ways for someone to acquireprescription drugs for illegal use. Some people obtain the prescription drugs from a person who has a validprescription. Others steal a doctor’s official prescription pad and forge the doctor’s signature for themedication, while some create a counterfeit prescription that resembles a doctor’s official prescription. Thereare some who do what is called “Doctor Shopping,” which entails going to many different doctors complainingabout a medical condition to get prescriptions from each of them.What is prescription drug abuse?Prescription drug abuse is the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, orfor the experience or feelings elicited. According to several national surveys, prescription medications, such asthose used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety, are being abused at a rate second only tomarijuana among illicit drug users. The consequences of this abuse have been steadily worsening, reflected inincreased treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths.How many people abuse prescription drugs?According to results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 2.4million Americans used prescription drugs nonmedically for the first time within the past year, which averagesto approximately 6,600 initiates per day. More than one-half were females and about a third were aged 12 to 1
  2. 2. 17. Although prescription drug abuse affects many Americans, certain populations, such as youth, olderadults, and women, may be at particular risk.Who abuses prescription drugs?Individuals of all ages abuse prescription drugs — data reported in the National Household Survey on DrugAbuse indicate that an estimated 36 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older abused prescription drugs atleast once in their lifetime. The survey also revealed that millions of teenagers and young adults abuseprescription drugs — 2.7 million individuals aged 12 to 17 and 6.9 million individuals aged 18 to 25 abusedprescription drugs at least once. Prescription drug abuse among high school students is a particular concern.According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey, more than 10 percent of high schoolseniors in the United States abused narcotics (other than heroin) at least once in their lifetime. Nearly 17percent abused amphetamines (a type of stimulant), 10 percent abused barbiturates, and 11 percent abusedtranquilizers at least once.Adolescents and young adultsAbuse of prescription drugs is highest among young adults aged 18 to 25, with 5.9 percent reportingnonmedical use in the past month (NSDUH, 2010). Among youth aged 12 to 17, 3.0 percent reported past-month nonmedical use of prescription medications.According to the 2010 MTF, prescription and OTC drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12thgraders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. While past-year nonmedical use of sedatives and tranquilizersdecreased among 12th graders over the last 5 years, this is not the case for the nonmedical use ofamphetamines or opioid pain relievers.When asked how prescription opioids were obtained for nonmedical use, more than half of the 12th graderssurveyed said they were given the drugs or bought them from a friend or relative. Interestingly, the numberof students who purchased opioids over the Internet was negligible.Youth who abuse prescription medications are also more likely to report use of other drugs. Multiple studieshave revealed associations between prescription drug abuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking; heavyepisodic drinking; and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among adolescents, young adults, andcollege students in the United States.Older adultsPersons aged 65 years and older comprise only 13 percent of the population, yet account for more than one-third of total outpatient spending on prescription medications in the United States. Older patients are morelikely to be prescribed long-term and multiple prescriptions, and some experience cognitive decline, whichcould lead to improper use of medications. Alternatively, those on a fixed income may abuse another person’sremaining medication to save money.The high rates of comorbid illnesses in older populations, age-related changes in drug metabolism, and thepotential for drug interactions may make any of these practices more dangerous than in younger populations.Further, a large percentage of older adults also use OTC medicines and dietary supplements, which (inaddition to alcohol) could compound any adverse health consequences resulting from prescription drug abuse. 2
  3. 3. What prescription drugs are commonly abused?The prescription drugs that are commonly abused in the United States fall into several broadcategories: opioids/narcotics/pain relievers, CNS (Central Nervous System) depressants, andstimulants. Individuals abuse these drugs because they are an easily accessible and inexpensive means ofaltering a user’s mental and physical state; the effects vary depending upon the drugs they abuse.What are some of the commonly abused prescription drugs?Although many medications can be abused, the following three classes are most commonly abused:Opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain;Central nervous system (CNS) depressants—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; andStimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).What are opioids?Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain andaffect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medicationsthat fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet),morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs. Hydrocodone products are the most commonlyprescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain. Morphine is often usedbefore and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, on the other hand, is often prescribedfor mild pain. In addition to their painrelieving properties, some of these drugs—codeine and diphenoxylate(Lomotil) for example—can be used to relieve coughs and severe diarrhea.Drug Type:Opioids/Narcotics/Pain RelieversCommon Brand Names:  Dilaudid (Dust, Juice, Smack, D, Footballs)  Lorcet (Pharmies, Beans, Hydro, Painkillers, Happy Pills)  Lortab (Tab, Hydro, Norco, Vikes, Viko)  Oxycontin (Hillbilly Heroin, Oxycet, Oxycotton)  Oxycodone which includes Percocet, Percodan & Tylox (Percs, Paulas, Roxicotten, Roxi’s, Blue Dynamite, 512s)  Vicodin (Happy Pills, Vikes)What are CNS depressants?CNS depressants, sometimes referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, are substances that canslow brain activity. This property makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Among themedications commonly prescribed for these purposes are the following: 3
  4. 4. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are sometimes prescribed to treatanxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. The more sedating benzodiazepines, such as triazolam(Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom) are prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Usually,benzodiazepines are not prescribed for longterm use because of the risk for developing tolerance,dependence, or addiction.Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zalepon(Sonata), have a different chemical structure, but act on some of the same brain receptors asbenzodiazepines. They are thought to have fewer side effects and less risk of dependence thanbenzodiazepines.Barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium), and pentobarbital sodium(Nembutal), are used less frequently to reduce anxiety or to help with sleep problems because of their higherrisk of overdose compared to benzodiazepines. However, they are still used in surgical procedures and forseizure disorders.Drug Type:  CNS Depressants  Tranquilizers  SedativesCommon Brand Names:  Barbiturates which include Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal And Phenobarbital (Barbs, Blue Birds, Phennies, Tooties, Yellows, Reds, Yellow Jackets, Amytal, Downers, Nembutal, Phenobarbital, Red Birds, Red Devils, Seconal, Tuninal)  Benzodiazepines which include Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium Or Xanax (Candy, Downers, Sleeping Pills, And Tranks)  Flunitrazepam which includes Rohypnol (Known as a leading ‘date-rape’ drug, Forget-Me Pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roche, Roofies, Rope)  Ketamine which includes Ketalar (Kat, Valium K, Special K, Vitamin K)What are stimulants?As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevateblood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and otherrespiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential forabuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants areprescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression—inthose who have not responded to other treatments. 4
  5. 5. Drug Type:StimulantsCommon Brand Names:  Amphetamines which include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, ProCentra, Vyvanse and Biphetamine (Bennies, Black Beauties, Crosses, Hearts, LA Turnaround, Speed, Truck Drivers, Uppers)  Methylphenidate which includes Ritalin (Jif, Mph, R-Ball, Skippy, The Smart Drug, Vitamin R, Kiddy Cocaine, West Coast)How are prescription drugs abused?Prescription drugs are abused in a variety of ways. Many of the prescription drugs that are commonly abusedare available as tablets. Typically abusers either consume the tablets orally or crush them into a powder,which they then snort. In some instances, abusers dissolve crushed tablets in water and then inject thesolution.How many people suffer adverse health consequences from abusingprescription drugs?The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which monitors emergency department (ED) visits in selectedareas across the Nation, reported that approximately 1 million ED visits in 2009 could be attributed toprescription drug abuse. Roughly 343,000 involved prescription opioid pain relievers, a rate more than doublethat of 5 years prior. ED visits also more than doubled for CNS stimulants, involved in nearly 22,000 visits in2009, as well as CNS depressants (anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics), involved in 363,000 visits. Of thelatter, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) comprised the vast majority. Rates for a popular prescribednonbenzodiazepine sleep aid, zolpidem (Ambien), rose from roughly 13,000 in 2004 to 29,000 in 2009. Morethan half of ED visits for prescription drug abuseinvolved multiple drugs.One in five teens nationwide were reportedabusing a prescription pain medication and one inten reported abuse of a prescription stimulant.(The Partnership for a Drug-Free America)More teens abuse prescription drugs than anyother illicit drug, except marijuana—more thancocaine, heroin, and methamphetaminecombined. (The Partnership for a Drug-FreeAmerica)Local school officials privately express concernabout the selling and easy access of prescriptiondrugs in their schools. School administrators, 5
  6. 6. however, are reluctant to speak publicly about the problem.Experts don’t know exactly why this type of drug abuse is increasing. The availability of drugs is probably onereason. Doctors are prescribing more drugs for more health problems than ever before. Online pharmaciesmake it easy to get prescription drugs without a prescription, even for youngsters. How are they obtained? Prescription drugs are obtained in various ways. In some cases, unscrupulous pharmacists or other medical professionals either steal the drugs or sell fraudulent prescriptions. In a process known as doctor shopping, abusers visit several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions. Individuals also call pharmacies with fraudulent prescription refills, or they alter prescriptions. Prescription drugs occasionally are stolen from pharmacies. Young people typically obtainprescription drugs from peers, friends, or family members. Some individuals who have legitimate prescriptionssell or give away their drugs. Young people also acquire prescription drugs by stealing them from relatives andother individuals with legitimate prescriptions or from school medicine dispensaries.Is abusing prescription drugs illegal?Yes, it is illegal to use prescription drugs without a valid prescription or to distribute them. The penaltiesassociated with the abuse or illegal distribution of prescription drugs vary depending upon the drug type.What are the penalties for possessing illegal prescription drugs in Texas?Prescription drugs are offered legally through a prescription, however, possession of prescription pills withouta legal prescription can land you in jail in Texas.Sec. 481.115. OFFENSE: POSSESSION OF SUBSTANCE IN PENALTY GROUP 1. (a) Except as authorizedby this chapter, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlledsubstance listed in Penalty Group 1, unless the person obtained the substance directly from or under a validprescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice.Sec. 481.117. OFFENSE: POSSESSION OF SUBSTANCE IN PENALTY GROUP 3. (a) Except as authorizedby this chapter, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlledsubstance listed in Penalty Group 3, unless the person obtains the substance directly from or under a validprescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice. 6
  7. 7. Group 1: Includes Opium, Oxycodone and some Prescription PillsWeight of Drug Type of Offense PunishmentLess than one gram State jail felony 180 days to 2 years in a state jail1 gram or more, less than 4 Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a stategrams prison4 grams or more, but less than Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state200 grams prison200 grams or more, but less than First-degree felony 5 to 99 years in a state400 grams prison400 grams or more Enhanced first-degree 10 to 99 years in a state felony prisonGroup 3 & 4: Many Prescription Pills like Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, & Drug CompoundsWeight of Drug Type of Offense PunishmentLess than 28 grams Class A misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail28 grams or more, but less than Third-degree felony 2 to 10 years in a state200 grams prison200 grams or more, but less than Second-degree felony 2 to 20 years in a state400 grams prison400 grams or more Enhanced First-degree 5 to 99 years in a state felony prisonPossession With Intent to DistributeSome states have laws making it illegal to be in possession of your own prescription drugs under certaincircumstances. Most states have laws that make it illegal to carry around pills that are not in their labeledprescription bottle. 7
  8. 8. In other words, if you are carrying around pills that your doctor prescribed to you, but have them loose inyour pocket or purse, that is illegal. The presumption is that you are carrying them in that manner so that youcan distribute them.Purchasing Prescription Drugs over the InternetFederal law prohibits buying controlled substances such as narcotic pain relievers (e.g., OxyContin®,Vicodin®), sedatives (e.g., Valium®, Xanax®, Ambien®), stimulants (e.g., phentermine, phendimetrazine,Adderall®, Ritalin®) and anabolic steroids (e.g., Winstrol®, Equipoise®) without a valid prescription fromyour doctor. This means there must be a real doctor-patient relationship, which by most state laws requires aphysical examination. Prescriptions written by “cyber doctors” relying on online questionnaires are notlegitimate under the law.Buying controlled substances online without a valid prescription may be punishable by imprisonment underFederal law. Often drugs ordered from rogue websites come from foreign countries. It is a felony to importdrugs into the United States and ship to a non-DEA registrant.Buying drugs online may not be only illegal, but dangerous. The American Medical Association and stateboards of medicine and pharmacy have all condemned the practice of cyber doctors issuing onlineprescriptions as unacceptable medical care. Drugs delivered by rogue websites may be the wrong drugs,adulterated or expired, the wrong dosage strength, or have no dosage directions or warnings.Hire the Best Houston Prescription Drugs Attorney: The Charles Johnson LawFirmSome people believe that crimes that involve prescription drugs are treated less seriously thancrimes that involve marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs. This is not true, however, and thepenalties for prescription drug crimes in Houston can be just as severe as penalties for illegal drug crimes.Depending on the type and amount of drug, the consequences could be significant.If you have been charged with an offense involving illegal prescription medications, you need an experiencedcriminal defense attorney who can successfully represent you and protect your rights. Houston Lawyer CharlesJohnson has expertly defended prescription drug charges for many years. In many cases he will be able tohave your case dismissed entirely. Contact him now for your free consultation.Posts Related to Houston Lawyer: Arrested For Illegal Prescription Drugs?  Arrested for Prescription Drugs? There is way out of it. The illegal sale or use of prescription drugs can certainly result in severe criminal charges. If you have been arrested for a forged prescription or ...  Houston Criminal Lawyer: Arrested for Ecstasy Possession or Distribution? While it may seem minor, an Ecstasy possession or distribution offense can carry serious penalties in Houston and throughout Texas. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has ... 8
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