More and more, Americans are starting to use substances at early ages. This can quickly spiral into substance abuse over time. Sometimes, this takes years. As prescription drugs become more popular, however, a few weeks or months may be all it takes. Not only are these drugs more addictive, but they are also more dangerous.
A sad trend
Psychology Today estimates that 90% of people who are addicted to prescription drugs report that they first started using them in middle school. In fact, 25% of prescription drug addicts start before they even turn 13 years old. One might ask how minors get access to these drugs. After all, drugs are not free. Some might argue that they are the most expensive habit to maintain.
Many steal drugs from family members and share them within a group. What many teens and their parents do not know is that teens might get charged as drug dealers for sharing their “stash.” This remains true even if they never collect a dime for the drugs they offer to friends. If the person who took the drug overdoses, then they might face federal criminal charges related to this as well.
The New York Times points out that this approach to tackling addiction in society is ironic. That is because recent sentiments have favored treating addiction more like a public health crisis and less like a crime. So far, there is no consensus on whether overdose prosecutions are either fair or effective.
Should this be a crime?
Some people believe that prosecuting dealers helps those who have hit rock bottom to get help. Others believe it offers some restitution for families who lose loved ones to drugs provided by someone else.
But if you are the parent of a child who unwittingly gave some pills to a friend – without even understanding the potential health or legal consequences themselves – you may view this situation differently. Is it fair to hold a minor responsible for a crime they didn’t even realize they committed?