You got hooked on painkillers after going in for surgery, and you just could not shake it. Your doctors kept giving you opioids. They worked to dull the pain while you healed, but you found out after the fact that you were now seriously addicted.
You're not alone. Some have said that painkillers and opioid addiction have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. These often-legal drugs are ruining lives and pushing people into illegal actions they would never consider otherwise. For instance, people who can no longer get opioids from their doctors may buy them on the street to feed this addiction, even though they honestly wish they could stop.
The police tend to respond to this epidemic by making arrests and putting people behind bars. But is locking people up really the right solution? Does that address this medical problem of addiction and dangerous drugs? It treats all drug users as if they have free will and are making decisions to break the law. But do you really have free will if you're completely addicted?
It's not hard to argue that treatment is the real solution. You don't need fines. You don't need jail time. You need help from medical professionals. After all, experts like the Surgeon General say definitively that "decades of scientific evidence show that addiction is a disease that can be effectively treated, and that proper treatment reduces the risk of overdose, helps people recover and live productive lives, and saves money."
That's a very strong statement from a leading expert in this field. It's something you should not ignore -- though many people do. Addiction is real. It is a disease. It can be treated. Left untreated, it becomes an epidemic and leads to crime.
Most people do not get treatment
The problem in the United States is not that people get addicted to opioids, but that they rarely get proper medical treatment. Some have claimed that, when looking at the people in the country with substance use disorders, a mere 10 percent -- one out of 10 -- ever get treatment for the disorder.
Does this perhaps explain why the epidemic has reached these proportions? It leads to a cycle of criminal activity, high overdose risks and many other issues. These issues could end if everyone who needed it got treatment and broke their addictions, but we are nowhere near that point. The vast majority of people never get treatment and the cycle continues.
Your legal rights
You can see how this issue has spiraled out of control and how the way the justice system treats you may not solve the problem or give you what you really need. Make sure you understand your rights if you are facing charges.