On July 11, 2012, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement alleged prescription drug abuse and trafficking charges against 103 suspects in a sweep of arrests that spread across three counties.
The eighth-month investigation culminated in arrests in Flagler, Putnam and St. John's counties. Operation Pain Management, a strategic task force created for the problem of prescription drug abuse, focused on this specific group of people.
According to statistics provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about seven million individuals abused prescription drugs in 2010.
The figure remains unchanged from 2009 and represents 2.7 percent of Americans. This included drugs classified as tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants and pain relievers, according to www.drugabuse.gov.
The problem has escalated among high school seniors as prescription drug abuse tops all illegal drug use in this age group. About 8 percent of high school seniors admit abuse of Vicodin; 5 percent report abuse of OxyContin. Most of these adolescents confessed to receiving the drugs from a relative, friend or acquaintance. An additional complication of prescription drug abuse, especially for teens, is further risky behavior, such as the abuse of alcohol or street drugs.
Teens conclude that these medications must be "safer" than illegal drugs since they are prescribed by medical personnel. However, using any drug incorrectly or without a prescription can cause long-term damage to the body including addiction. Overall legal consumption of prescription drugs by Americans has skyrocketed exponentially. The increased availability of prescription drugs tempts adolescents who use these substances for a variety of reasons. Withdrawal is painful and difficult. Accidental overdose can cause permanent physical or mental damage, or even death.
The state of Florida views the abuse of prescription drugs seriously and will go to extensive lengths to prosecute violators of the law. Some of the charges that can be levied against abusers include prescription fraud, possession of drugs and sales or trafficking drugs. In addition, offenders can commit other crimes, such as driving under the influence, or many other criminal acts because of a depressed sense of caution or moral consequence. Penalties for guilty individuals include hefty fines, time in custody, mandatory community service hours and drug testing and counseling.