Georgia's "pill mills" target of new laws

Georgia has something in common with the rest of America - a growing problem with the abuse of opiate drugs. As neighboring states like Florida tightened their restrictions on the pill mill industries operating openly out of strip malls all over the state, the purveyors of these prescription pills simply packed up their operations and moved north to Georgia.

As one Georgia district attorney noted recently, state residents continue to abuse opiates and other prescription drugs. The Dougherty County District Attorney is glad that the General Assembly approved legislation intended to crack down on doctors who illegally prescribe drugs to their patients.

District Attorney Greg Edwards said, "It's a growing phenomenon here, and I imagine everywhere else in this area. But certainly I can say that we've had an increase over the last couple, three years of prescription drug fraud, sales...illegal sales of prescription drugs."

Addicts will drive hundreds of miles one way to obtain drugs like hydrocodone or oxycodone. Some of those pills are then resold at high prices on the streets to other addicts. According to Edwards, addicts pay as much as $20 a pill to feed their addictions.

Rise in pill mills creates opportunities for other crimes, drugs

There has been an uptick in crimes like forgery resulting from the presence of these pill mills in the state of Georgia. It is also a dangerous illusion to believe that simply shuttering some clinics will make the addiction problem go away. There is a correlation in the increase of pharmacy robberies in Georgia since the legislature first began taking action a few years ago to shut down these illegal distribution operations across the state.

Another, perhaps even more insidious problem, encroaches on communities where pill mill crack downs have been enforced - heroin. Considered far more lethal because it is a street drug not subject to Food and Drug Administration or Drug Enforcement Administration controls and safeguards, heroin floods communities, decimating the addicts and destroying their families.

Often laced with the even stronger drug fentanyl, heroin overdoses are even more lethal than those from prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin. The increased number of addicts in the state has not been matched by a corresponding number of available beds or spots in residential or daily treatment programs, creating a maelstrom of addiction madness that no legislation can ever adequately address.

Drug crimes bring hard time

Being charged with illegal possession or sales of prescription narcotics is very serious, as convictions can net defendants long sentences in state prison. The best approach is a robust defense to the charges launched early in the proceedings by your criminal defense attorney. He or she may be able to mount evidentiary challenges that lead to an acquittal on the charges or arrange a plea bargain with the prosecution that could include time spent getting clean in a rehab facility.

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