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Regulators’ report underscores country’s opioid addiction problem

Cops know it. So too do judges and prosecutors. And knowledgeable and caring criminal defense attorneys are perhaps more attuned to the problem than all other participants in the country’s criminal justice system.

The issue/challenge we’re referring to in today’s blog post at the established Denver criminal defense law firm of Shazam Kianpour & Associates is this: the vast and growing challenges posed all across the country – including in Colorado – by opioid drugs and related prescription medications.

Legions of persons criminally charged with offenses such as unlawful possession or sales of such controlled drugs (e.g., oxycodone, Percocet, Valium and Vicodin) have been locked up in droves for many years. That outcome has long been the preferred and default strategy pursued by law enforcers pursuant the so-called War on Drugs.

That campaign is now largely – and rightly – discredited, owing to an increased public recognition that a lock-them-up strategy employed against lower-level offenders with addiction problems spells a losing effort. It breeds recidivism. It isolates offenders from their communities, rather than helping them learn new behaviors they will need to successfully reassimilate following release. It is inordinately expensive.

A recently study authored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spotlights the growing and deadly opioid epidemic ravaging the country. The CDC’s research underscores many points, with this statistic fairly leaping out from the agency’s report: Reportedly, nearly 64,000 people died from drug overdoses across the United States in 2016.

That equates to about 175 fatalities on an “average” day, every day of the year.

The CDC notes that the narcotic pain-relieving medication fentanyl is now the deadliest drug in the country, rising to the top of a list that perennially includes entrants like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

A recent national article’s policy piece on the country’s persistently growing drug scourge duly stresses that legislators “are struggling to deal with the sweeping opioid epidemic.”

A reasoned, proactive and humanitarian response is urgently needed. Increasingly, reformers stress that an optimal strategy going forward must stress treatment and rehabilitation rather than being narrowly focused upon punishment and incarceration.

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