Law Enforcement Focuses on Heroin and Prescription Drug Problem in MichiganMar 31, 2017, by Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, Legal Blog in
Recently released data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services shows that the abuse of both prescription and illegal drugs continues to grow at epidemic proportions in the United States. Heroin and prescription opioid drugs such as oxycodone and fentanyl remain the leading sources of drug overdose deaths in the country, despite warning efforts over the past few years about the dangers of their abuse. Michigan law enforcement is working on new ways to slow the explosive growth of heroin abuse in the state, some of which involve criminal penalties and others focus on treatment.
The possession and sale of heroin or prescription drugs can lead to heavy fines and potential jail time, so even in areas of the state that are trying to focus on drug treatment, it is important to consult a Detroit criminal defense attorney to ensure that your path to recovery does not lead you towards criminal charges.
Deaths Due to Heroin and Prescription Drugs Increase Again in 2015
The numbers released by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that in 2015 the rate of drug overdose deaths increased to 16.3 per 100,000 people. The numbers show a more than 250 percent increase in the death rate from 1999 when the rate of overdose deaths was at 6.1 per 100,000. The rate of drug overdose deaths in Michigan in 2015 was higher than the national average and 15th highest in the United States at 20.4 overdose deaths per 100,000 people.
Heroin and synthetic opioids such as the prescription drug fentanyl continue to fuel the rise in drug overdose deaths. The percentage of drug overdose deaths involving heroin has more than tripled since 2010 to 25 percent and the percentage of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl has increased from 8 percent to 18 percent during the same time period.
Macomb County Law Enforcement Turns to Treatment
In light of heroin overdose deaths continuing to increase despite continued attempts to enforce the state’s drug laws, this year Macomb County law enforcement has turned to a program that focuses on treatment over incarceration. The program is called “Hope Not Handcuffs” and is supported by every police department in the county along with the Michigan State Police. Under the program, a drug addict who is seeking treatment can enter a police station or Sheriff’s office in the county and request help. Instead of arresting the individual, law enforcement officials contact volunteers who work to help the drug addict find an available drug treatment facility. In less than two weeks since the program officially launched on February 1, 2017, there had already been 14 people placed into drug treatment with many others waiting for available treatment centers.
Stricter Penalties for Deadly Drugs
Another route in the attempt to curb drug overdose deaths in Michigan is being taken by federal law enforcement. The United States Attorney’s Office has attempted to halt drug overdose deaths by seeking harsh penalties that include life in prison for people who sold drugs that caused someone’s death. The United States Attorney brought charges against four such drug dealers in the summer of 2015, stating that the hope was that strong enforcement would deter the distribution of heroin.
How a Detroit Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The epidemic of heroin use and abuse is so widespread that not just one solution will be able to solve the problem. But even if you live in a county like Macomb County where treatment is emphasized, it is important to remember that possession of heroin and the illegal possession of prescription drugs are serious crimes that can bring harsh criminal penalties. If you are addicted to heroin or prescription drugs and find yourself facing drug possession charges, you need a caring and knowledgeable Michigan criminal defense lawyer to defend you and help find treatment options available in your area.
Detroit criminal defense attorney Maurice Davis has worked both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, giving him experience on both sides of a wide range of drug cases.