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Is there a link between opioid misuse and criminal history?

Many Florida residents are aware of the opioid problem in the nation and some of the effects it can have on society. But a recent survey shines light on a potential connection between misuse of the drug and criminal histories. The survey of more than 75,000 participants dealt with the level of use of opioid-based drugs, including heroin. The level of use was divided into five categories ranging from no use to heroin abuse. It also included those on prescription pain killers.

The study then determined whether participants had a criminal history, which it defined as offenses greater than minor traffic violations. The results showed a steep upward curve based on the level of use. Those with no use were shown to have a criminal history in only 15 percent of the participants but a 75 percent history among heroin abusers. A criminal history was found in more than half of those with a non-heroin opioid disorder.

Due to the large number incarcerated with some form of addiction to opioids, medical professionals have pointed out that detoxification, or removal of the drug from the system, is generally ineffective. One has pointed out that forced abstinence from the drug can lower the tolerance, increasing the risk of an overdose in the event of relapse. Other professionals see the inconsistency with the lack of prison treatment for opioid addiction while other health issues are mandated for treatment.

Considering the correlation between misuse of various forms of the narcotic and potential involvement with criminal histories, early detection and treatment may be the key. For those suspected of a problem, getting the person into effect treatment before the criminal justice system could avoid dire consequences. And if incarceration becomes a reality, it is unlikely that a prison term will cure the addiction.

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