Both in California and throughout the nation, heroin use has been on the rise recently, marked by higher overdose rates and greater quantities of the drug seized by law enforcement agencies.
In Southern California, the increase in heroin use has been especially pronounced among teenagers, NBC Los Angeles reported recently. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, first-time heroin use among people between the ages of 12 and 17 has increased by 80 percent in recent years.
Fatal heroin overdoses have also spiked dramatically in a relatively short time frame, rising by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010. Officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration say they believe that number is still rising.
Painkiller addiction often leads to heroin use
Experts say the rise in heroin use in the U.S. is likely fueled in large part by the epidemic of prescription painkiller addiction that has spread through the nation during the past several years. Because OxyContin and other prescription opiates are chemically similar to heroin, many people who become addicted to painkillers eventually start using heroin because the drug is relatively cheap and easy to obtain.
A vast majority of the heroin smuggled into the United States originates in Latin America and enters the U.S. from Mexico through California and other border states. Law enforcement seizures of heroin along the U.S.-Mexico border have nearly quadrupled since 2008, according to DEA figures. In 2012 alone, U.S. officials seized 2,091 kilograms (4,610 pounds) of heroin being smuggled from Mexico into California and other border states.
Get legal help in the event of a California heroin arrest
If you are arrested for a heroin-related drug crime in California, the potential consequences can be enormous. Not only could you face costly fines and potential jail or prison time in addition to having to register with local law enforcement as a drug offender if you are convicted, but there may be a number of very serious personal and professional consequences as well. For example, a conviction for heroin possession could cause you to lose your job and may make it more difficult to find employment in the future. It could also interfere with your ability to obtain financial aid for college, and, if you are not a U.S. citizen, could limit your immigration options.
To help minimize the risk of these and other negative potential consequences if you are arrested for a heroin-related drug crime in California, be sure to seek help from an experienced drug crime defense lawyers near me.