Report shows prescription drug abuse increasing in Dedham

Massachusetts residents know illegal and legal drugs can both be dangerous. A recent report reveals serious issues with prescription drugs in Dedham.

Drug addiction on the rise in Dedham

Dedham police have already responded to three reports of fatal drug overdoses in 2012. Additionally, prescription drug abuse has risen by 600 percent in Massachusetts between 1990 and 2003.

In Dedham, drug addiction is responsible for numerous robberies, according to Dedham police detectives. Unfortunately, individuals with a severe addiction problem sometimes engage in illegal acts, such as stealing or shoplifting, to satisfy their habit. Although the police force in Dedham is working to control the problem, detectives say they are often overwhelmed.

Growing theft in Dedham is primarily caused by the widespread availability of drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. Some people believe because these are prescription medications and prescribed by doctors, they are not dangerous drugs. Therefore, although prescription painkillers serve an important purpose for people suffering from pain, there is a darker side to the availability of these substances.

A recent statewide drug report shows these drugs contain habit-forming substances. Prescription drugs, particularly opiate or opioid painkillers, are commonly believed to be gateway drugs to heroin.

The Dedham police department is combating the problem by proactively communicating with police departments in neighboring towns and also by collaborating with state and federal agencies, according to the Wicked Local Dedham. Information is also obtained from resale stores where stolen merchandise frequently turns up.

A Dedham police detective emphasizes that their intent is not to simply prosecute people for using illegal drugs, but to help addicts. Detectives often contact family members of drug abusers to encourage them to offer support.

Penalties in Massachusetts for possession of prescription drugs

An individual who is found in possession of controlled substances such as marijuana or prescription drugs faces up to one year in prison and/or a fine of $1000 in Massachusetts. The penalty rises for heroin possession, which is punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine of $2000.

A subsequent heroin possession offense increases the prison time to two and a half to five years and/or a fine of $5000. First time offenders may receive probation. When probation is complete the case may be dismissed and records sealed.

Police officers must have probable cause and obtain a search warrant before searching an individual's home or car before seizing evidence of an alleged crime. In order to be charged with a drug crime such as illegal possession of prescription drugs it must determined if the drugs or any other evidence were possessed without a prescription and seized properly by the police.

If police officers obtain evidence illegally, this is a violation of a constitutional right. If constitutional rights are violated, evidence may be suppressed and this can lead to the dismissal of charges.

An individual facing a drug possession charge can benefit from a criminal defense attorney who specializes in drug crimes. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help protect a defendant's legal rights and ensure police follow proper procedure.