Right now, our country is facing nothing short of an opioid epidemic. How so?
Here are some opioid facts and statistics that might be surprising to you:
- The leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old is overdosing on drugs, and that death rate continues to increase.
- Every 24 hours, 78 people die from a drug overdose across the country.
- Overdoses cost the United States $20 billion in emergency room care as well as $55 billion in other health and social costs.
- In 2015, right here in North Carolina, there were 20,317 visits to emergency rooms and 1,305 deaths related to drug overdoses.
Why are these numbers so mind-blowingly high? What is the cause of this national problem?
Simply put, Americans consume more opioids than any other country, and it doesn’t seem like we’re slowing down. Not only are we in the worst drug overdose crisis in our country’s history, over the next decade opioids will also be responsible for nearly 500,000 more deaths.
Most experts agree that legal opioid prescriptions are the root of this epidemic, but when those prescriptions can no longer be filled, those who are addicted find themselves turning to heroin – the cheaper, illegal alternative to prescription pills – and whatever else the heroin happens to be laced with.
So what is our country, and more specifically our state, doing to address this problem that is plaguing our citizens?
North Carolina Wants to Crack Down on Drug Dealers
Our state believes that if we can get the drug traffickers and dealers off the streets, we can get addicts the help they need. However, getting dealers off the streets is often quite challenging.
Sheriff Jerry Monette from Craven County said, “One of the biggest problems I see is… many times we would arrest an individual on felony drug charges and then, because of delays in the court system, this individual would make bond, they would be out of jail, and six weeks to two months later we would arrest that person for the same thing. And six weeks to two months later we would arrest that same person again.”
When an individual is arrested for federal trafficking charges, they are sent to jail without bond. Monette would like the same thing to happen to traffickers arrested on North Carolina state charges in order to keep them off the streets.
Monette agrees, however, that you can’t send everyone to jail for drug crimes.
Craven County District Attorney Scott Thomas said the prosecutor’s office “is working to send dealers to prison, but to find help for the addicts themselves…we try to determine if this is a user who is committing other crimes or if you’re a dealer. If you’re a dealer we’re going to do everything we can to put you in prison. If a user, we’ll do everything we can to put you in treatment.”
Nothing official has happened yet, but with the opioid crisis continuing to get worse, North Carolina legislators might eventually be swayed by both Monette and Thomas’ outlooks. In addition to not receiving bond, drug traffickers in our state could see even more severe punishments for their alleged crimes.
For this reason, it’s more important than ever to contact an experienced North Carolina drug attorney if you find yourself facing any type of drug offense charge. A knowledgeable attorney will help you defend your charges and fight for your rights to get the best possible outcome.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.