How Will The CDC’s New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Affect Drug Crime?
No one wants to go back to the days of Florida’s pill mills, when if your car had enough life left in it to cross state lines into Florida, you could go to a pain clinic in any strip mall, offer the flimsiest excuse about why you were there, and walk away with enough prescription opioid pills to fill a pillowcase. Of course, what replaced it was not much better. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a set of guidelines in 2016 that strictly limited the duration of courses of opioids and the maximum daily dose that doctors could prescribe. This left patients who had been taking prescription opioids as prescribed in the lurch as doctors tapered their doses or refused to renew their prescriptions at all. We all know the frightening next chapter in the story, when patients who had become dependent on prescription opioids buy pills online from shady websites or drug powders on the street corner. These drugs of unknown provenance sometimes contained heroin, sometimes fentanyl, or even worse, tranquilizers that would not respond to naloxone in the event of an overdose. The CDC’s new guidelines aim to chart a course that avoids both of these problems. This could be good news if you have just started treatment for an injury, but if you are already facing criminal charges for illegal possession of opioids or attempts to purchase them illegally, contact a Tampa drug crime lawyer.
Return of the Pill Mills or a Farewell to Fentanyl?
The CDC’s new guidelines give doctors more flexibility to determine the appropriate dose of opioid painkillers and the ideal duration for a course of treatment. The guidelines advise doctors to take patients at their word about how well certain doses of medication can effectively manage the patients’ pain. They should not abruptly taper patients’ doses but should be suspicious of patients who keep wanting to increase their doses.
At worst, this could lead to irresponsible prescribing and a return of the black market for legally prescribed opioid pills. We could see an increase in cases of prescription pad theft in criminal court and even see doctors who prescribe opioids too liberally charged with drug distribution. At best, though, we could see people who need opioids for pain management turn to their doctors instead of engaging in the medically and legally risky behaviors of purchasing drugs online or buying darkweb-sourced drugs that look like oxycodone but might be fentanyl.
Meanwhile, the laws about opioid overdose have not changed. Specifically, naloxone quickly reverses opioid overdoses and is in the possession of all first responders. If you call 911 to get help for someone suffering a drug overdose, Good Samaritan laws protect you, and police cannot arrest you for drug possession, even if, when they arrive, there is an envelope full of pills on the table, and it is addressed to you.
Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of illegal possession of opioids or of using illegal means to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance. Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.