With both opioid poisoning and arrests related to “legal” drugs on the rise with juveniles, it’s no secret that more young people than ever are gaining access to prescription drugs.Despite an increase in medical studies and public awareness campaigns about the dangers of opioids, younger people still don't realize the dangers of sharing prescription drugs. Nor do most of them understand how vulnerable they are to arrest and prosecution.
Because Texas is so tough on both adults and minors for drug offenses, the consequences of getting caught with illicit prescription drugs can be severe. Depending on circumstances such as age and the amount of the substance found, sentencing for possession of prescription drugs can start with fines of up to $1,000 and a year of prison, rising to a potential $50,000 fine and 99-years sentence.
According to a recent national study conducted by the Yale School of Public Health, the increase in prescriptions being written to adults is a large reason that teens and young adults have such easy access to drugs.
In Texas alone, drug arrests at high schools are on the rise, and many of those arrests involve prescription drugs. Students are finding out the hard way that sharp-eyed nurses, teachers and resource officers know what to look for -- and are quick to call the police if they suspect prescription drug abuse.
Texas-area police chiefs theorize that the uptick in illicit prescription drug use has a simple explanation. “Legal” drugs are easier to get ahold of than those that are outlawed -- particularly when minors can find them in their own family’s medical cabinets. Arrested minors reveal that they also get extras from friends with legitimate prescriptions.
In addition, the increase in student-dealer arrests on Texas campuses has made it clear that students are willing to pay good money to other students for medications like hydrocodone and Xanax. College students are reportedly turning to these substances to boost athletic performance and to cope with academic pressure.
Of course, some teens and young adults use prescription drugs recreationally -- simply to get high. Yet many minors are genuinely attempting to self-medicate their own anxiety, depression or trouble concentrating in school.
Sadly, they don’t realize the legal consequences of being found with prescription drugs that aren’t their own.
It’s clear that high school and college students now facing much tougher charges -- including felonies -- related to possession of prescription drugs. It’s equally obvious that ignorance about the dangers of these substances is no longer considered a viable defense for minors and young adults. Mounting a strong defense is crucial.