Many people see a news item highlighting an overdose or that someone was convicted of a drug crime and they immediately conjure up images centering on illegal narcotics such as cocaine, heroin and meth. Unfortunately, that’s only a small piece of the larger picture. In recent years, prescription drugs have seen a dramatic increase.

While the criminal consequences associated with prescription fraud are often severe – including fines, jail time and community service – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released data that highlights the deadly nature of prescription drug abuse.

The CDC data is staggering. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 U.S. deaths can be attributed to overdoses related to prescription opioids. Drugs such as Methadone, OxyContin and Vicodin are the substances most commonly tied to these overdoses. In fact, more than 1000 people each day are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

These powerful medications carry a significant chance of becoming addicted. An individual suffering from chronic pain due to a serious car accident, for example, might be reliant on Vicodin to get through the day. He or she might panic at the prospect of not having enough medication to combat the pain. This, unfortunately, can lead to criminal activity. Prescription fraud, purchasing the medication illegally, or even pharmaceutical theft can all have serious repercussions and criminal consequences.

If you are facing criminal charges for drug possession, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.