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Increased heroin use in Arizona blamed on prescription drug abuse

Law enforcement in Arizona has seen an increase in heroin-related arrests, partially due to prescription drug dependency.
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    January 29, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Increased heroin use in Arizona blamed on prescription drug abuse

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For patients recovering from medical procedures or those with certain disorders, prescription drugs can bring welcome relief from the pain. Although these drugs provide many benefits, many can be highly addictive, as many common pain relief drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin are a variant of opioids like heroin.

Unfortunately, these drugs can often serve as a gateway to more serious and illegal drugs. Sadly, Arizona is not immune to this trend. According to experts, an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Arizona is leading to an increase in heroin use. As a result, heroin overdose deaths in the state have more than doubled--increasing from 56 in 2009 to 120 in 2011, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Experts say that users of oxycodone and hydrocodone are the most likely to turn to heroin for two reasons: it is less expensive and is easier to get. As heroin belongs to the same class of drugs as these pain relievers, users can get the same euphoric feeling for as little as a fifth of the price of prescription drugs--which can cost as much as $200 per day--without having to get a prescription.

Legal consequences

As the number of heroin users increases, more people are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. Arizona law enforcement has seen an uptick in drug trafficking across the Mexican border. As a result, the Drug Enforcement Agency has also reported an increase in heroin seizures and prosecutions. Naturally, as law enforcement gears up to address the increase in heroin use, those who use heroin are increasingly facing the risk of criminal penalties.

In Arizona, possession or use of heroin is among the most serious drug crimes. As a result, those who are convicted of possessing or using heroin can face severe penalties. Under Arizona law, when drugs are possessed in certain amounts (called "threshold amounts"), prison time is mandatory as punishment.

The threshold amount for heroin in Arizona is only one gram. Those found in possession of heroin equal or above this amount can face up to 3.75 years in prison, assuming that it is a first-time offense. In addition, offenders face a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 or three times the value of the drugs involved, whichever is greater.

An attorney can help

As those convicted of drug use and possession face heavy fines and loss of freedoms, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you find yourself in this situation. An attorney can assess the evidence against you and prepare an effective defense on your behalf.

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