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Opioid addiction can strike anyone

Drugs can be insidious in creeping into a person's life. They may find they are addicted before they even recognize the risk. The recent epidemic of opioid deaths from overdoses is in part driven by people who begin with some form of prescription painkillers. Once addicted, they may suffer an overdose from one of the popular and widely prescribed drugs or, if they can no longer obtain those drugs, they may eventually move to heroin as they seek relief from chronic pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in the last 15 years, sales of prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, have almost quadrupled and deaths from these opioids have also quadrupled. This epidemic has struck a broad spectrum of society.

While Iowa has not been as severely hit as some states, nonetheless, the number of deaths from opioids have increased sharply in the last decade. Overdose deaths related to Oxycodone have more than tripled during that period and fatal heroin overdoses have increased by a factor of 10.

As an example of how broad this epidemic cuts, an attorney in Des Moines has been charged with "eight felonies for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver" including marijuana, hash, OxyContin, Klonopin, Xanax, and other drugs. The attorney checked into an inpatient treatment facility to deal with his addiction and his attorney denied the man was dealing drugs.

If a sufficient quantity of a drug is discovered, prosecutors will typically inflate the charges to include some type of drug trafficking or distribution charges as a means of increasing the potential severity of the sentence. The threat of long prison terms provides the leverage to force many suspects to accept a plea bargain.

If the accused takes the plea, it relieves the prosecution of the time consuming and risky effort of proving a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt and allows them to process cases more quickly.

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