Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in New Jersey and around the country, posing serious health risks and driving new lucrative criminal enterprises. This month, police in the north New Jersey town of Fairview found $5 million worth of prescription drugs in a home where three men and a teen lived.
The stash included 15,000 bottles of prescription painkillers, AIDS medicines and other legal prescription drugs, according to a report on NorthJersey.com. While most illicit drug abuse is declining, particularly among teens, misuse of legal drugs is growing fast. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that about one-third of all drug abuse in the U.S. is prescription drug abuse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that at least 15 million Americans used a prescription pain reliever, tranquilizer, stimulant or sedative for non-medical purposes at least once in 2008.
Vicodin, OxyContin and other prescription painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. A NIDA-funded survey in 2008 reported that 10 percent of high school seniors abused Vicodin in the previous year, and 5 percent had abused OxyContin. High doses of prescription painkillers can slow breathing enough to kill users, as can non-prescribed combinations with other prescription drugs.
Federal officials partly blame the spike in prescription drug abuse on the estimated 800,000 Internet sites that sell drugs "and will ship them to households (with) no questions asked."
However, police said the drugs in the $5 million New Jersey stash were reportedly obtained with prescriptions at traditional pharmacies in New York and New Jersey.
Future Crack Down illegal Use of Prescription Drugs
The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws and other groups are working with states to crack down on illegal prescriptions and illicit sales of legal drugs. According to the NAMSDL, the New Jersey state government has approved a new prescription drug monitoring program, but is not yet operating.
At least 34 other states have operational monitoring programs, which include a statewide database of pharmacies and prescriptions. The goal is to track use and abuse trends, and find individuals who may be using forged prescriptions or obtaining large amounts of the same class of drugs.
In New Jersey, prescription fraud and forgery and illegal possession and distribution of prescription drugs can bring heavy fines and prison sentences. This month, a New York doctor was sentenced to three years in New Jersey state prison and a $700,000 fine for Medicare fraud and illegally selling prescriptions to seniors.
Contact an Attorney
If you have questions about New Jersey’s new drug monitoring program and how it may affect you when implemented or about penalties that may be associated with illegal use of prescription drugs, please speak to an experienced attorney in your area. A lawyer can help explain your legal rights and the best options for you depending on your situation.