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Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A.
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Opioid overdose deaths are increasing

Prescription pain medications cause a significant number of overdose deaths in this country. The number of deaths almost tripled between 1999 and 2014. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of drug fatalities caused by synthetic opioids rose by more than 72 percent between 2014 and 2015.

Opioids include everything from heroin to prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Heroin and fentanyl account for much of the recent spike in opioid-related deaths. Meanwhile, deaths from morphine, an opioid that has long been used to help people ease out of addiction to other opioids, have dropped.

Some opioids are often prescribed by doctors to relieve pain. However, according to the CDC, fentanyl that was obtained illegally is responsible for most of the opioid fatalities in this country. White people are more likely to die from opioid overdoses than people of other races.

Even though opioids and other pain relieving medications can be obtained legally from physicians, many people sell them illegally. They're addictive, so many people who no longer can get them prescribed to them by their doctors seek them out from other sources.

As the opioid epidemic worsens in Florida and other parts of the country, law enforcement officers and prosecutors are putting increasing resources into fighting the illegal sale and possession of these drugs. If you are arrested for a crime involving opioids or other drugs that were obtained illegally, you could face serious legal penalties. It's essential to seek experienced legal guidance to help mitigate the consequences. An attorney may be able to get you into treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Illicit Opioids Drive Increase in U.S. Overdose Deaths," Kimberly Leonard, Dec. 16, 2016

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