Understanding Drug Diversion

Prescription drug abuse is a huge issue in our society. There were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2018, and 70% of those deaths involved legal drugs—opioids. Most overdose deaths are caused by a misuse of prescription drugs. While many people are legally prescribed opioids and other drugs, many are not. They may get these medications from other sources, such as friends and family members.

This is called drug diversion. When a legal drug ends up with a person to whom it is not prescribed, this is illegal. The drugs most commonly involved in drug diversion are opioids and other analgesics, as well as psychoactive drugs such as benzodiazepines.

Illegal prescription drug use is common. In 2016, approximately 6.2 million Americans over the age of 12 or older had misused psychotherapeutic drugs at least once.

Who Engages in Drug Diversion?

Prescription drugs must only be used by the person to whom they are prescribed, so anyone can be involved in drug diversion. If your child is prescribed painkillers for after a surgery, for example, and you use the drugs yourself to deal with a chronic condition, you are engaging in drug diversion. If you sell your opioids to a neighbor, that is drug diversion as well.

Surprisingly, those in the healthcare field often divert drugs. Instead of giving the medication to the patient, they use the drugs for themselves. Many doctors, nurses and pharmacists use these drugs to self-medicate. They may have pain issues of their own. Some are even addicts. In fact, addiction is on the rise and this is the most common reason for drug diversion in healthcare settings.

This type of drug diversion, however, can have serious consequences for the patients. If the patient is in a hospital, for example, and their nurse is using their medication, the nurse can become impaired. This can result in substandard care. Plus, the patient isn’t getting the medication he or she needs, so this can result in increased pain or even a worsened medical condition. If the healthcare worker tampers with injectable drugs, there is a risk of infection. In fact, many cases of drug diversion by nurses have resulted in hepatitis C and bacterial infections at hospitals throughout the country. These infections are serious and there is a possibility that patients could even die.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Today

Prescription drug crimes are taken seriously, as abuse of these medications have become an epidemic of sorts. Even healthcare workers who are entrusted with these drugs have become addicted at high rates.

As such, penalties can be stiff. If you are a healthcare worker, you could lose your license and ability to work if you don’t act quickly. The Columbia criminal attorneys at The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. can provide you with a solid defense. We can suggest treatment options in lieu of jail time. We have two offices to serve you. Fill out the online form or call (410) 774-5987 to schedule a free consultation.


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