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The Legal Ramifications of Drug Use

Drug use could result in prison time

There are many direct consequences of illegal drug abuse for individuals and society. Productivity loss, crime, injuries and the heavy cost of medical treatment are just a few of the ways that drug addicts, their loved ones and the public suffer from the drug abuse epidemic. Not least among the consequences are the legal ramifications that can result from breaking federal, state or local laws regarding substance use.

How the Government Defines and Controls Illegal Drug Use

When most people picture illegal drug use, they think only of illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine. But the legality of prescription drug use often depends on the situation. Prescription drugs, like illicit drugs, are controlled by the government due to their potential to cause harm to the individual and society. Many people wrongly assume that because a drug is used in medical treatment, that it is legally acceptable to use even without a prescription. The DEA’s list of controlled substances includes addictive, mind-altering drugs that are regulated by the government, illicit and prescription alike.

While there are overarching federal laws regarding the possession, manufacture and sale of controlled substances, Anchorage residents should be aware that law enforcement strategies and penalties vary from state to state and even between cities. Federal drug charges often carry more severe penalties than state or local prosecution. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) lays out the federal laws and penalties. To learn about the drug laws in your state, search your state’s government website.

Consequences for the Drug User

A few specific consequences that an individual who uses illegal drugs can face include the following:

  • Prison time – People who violate drug laws can find themselves serving short-term sentences in local jails or facing years in federal prison, depending on the crime and the harm caused.
  • Fines – Fines for unauthorized manufacturing, distributing or dispensing of controlled substances can result in thousands or even millions of dollars worth of fines.
  • Limited employment options – A criminal record resulting from drug-related crimes can truly narrow potential career options. Many employers will turn down someone with a criminal record in favor of someone who appears to be trustworthy.
  • Other consequences of a criminal record – A history with illegal drugs can make obtaining licenses and travel visas difficult, of not impossible. It can also put you at a disadvantage with law enforcement when facing the possibility of other legal consequences such as traffic violations.

If you or a loved one is ready to stop using drugs illegally, call our toll-free helpline to speak with an admissions coordinator about your professional treatment options. We are available 24 hours a day to connect you with the treatment plan that works for you. Please call today.