Recent headlines about University of Minnesota wrestlers being involved in the use and sale of benzodiazepines (like Xanax, Valium and Ativan), as well as this story of a Macalester College athlete facing criminal charges relating to his own use and sale of Xanax have led some to wonder if a new avenue of drug-related crimes is coming to our state. Minnesota has had problems with some drugs, namely methamphetamine and prescription opiates such as OxyContin and Percocet, for some time, but experts like Dr. Joseph Lee, director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum, suggest that the use and sale of benzodiazepines has become a huge issue here in recent years.
Not only are benzodiazepine overdose deaths on the rise, but the role these drugs are playing in criminal activities is also increasing. “Benzos” like Xanax can cause intoxicated blackouts similar to those caused by too much alcohol, leaving users driving, committing crimes, hurting themselves and vulnerable to abuse, all with no knowledge of the events in question.
Furthermore, benzodiazepines have a high likelihood for addiction, even when taken at therapeutic doses. Trying to wean yourself off of them can be nearly impossible, and can lead to seizures or other serious health issues without medical intervention. Part of the tragedy of addiction is that addicts will often commit criminal activity to get their next “fix.” Addiction can lead to driving under the influence, drug sales, theft, trafficking, assault and more. In the worst circumstances, it can even lead to vehicular homicide or murder.
If you are addicted to or abusing any drug – whether its legal or illicit – there is help available. Minnesota is home to some of the nation’s most well-respected drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities. Addiction issues can also be a mitigating factor if you are facing criminal charges relating to your drug use. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the interplay of drugs and the criminal justice system. A skilled attorney will know how to best protect your rights while helping you get the help you need to get your life back on track.