Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Handcuffs

Many good people find their way to our office because of a drug or alcohol problem that has spiraled out of control. DUI charges might result of a one-time celebratory event. Many times, however, those charges are symptom of a chronic abuse of alcohol. Felony drug distribution charges often arise because “dealing” is the only way to afford the underlying drug habit. Most burglary defendants we deal with are motivated by an addiction. Some people can maintain a limited, recreational use of alcohol or drugs. But many others are highly susceptible to the habit-forming and addictive qualities of alcohol, marijuana, prescribed medications, and other drugs. We have even seen highly successful people who become addicted to pain-killers they are prescribed after a surgical procedure. When they can no longer access the pain-killers, they seek street level drugs such as heroin.

We have dealt with many, many cases that allow us to help get the client on a path toward recovery and a lifetime of health and happiness. Our years of experience have given us insight into the programs that truly help clients deal with an addiction. We know what programs the courts respect, and which programs they do not. We are often able to guide clients and their families regarding when it is time to engage in drug education, regular or intensive out-patient counseling, or in-patient treatment.

There are three trends we see that appear to be leading to increased drug abuse and criminal offenses. First, there has been a spike in the use of heroin. Heroin is highly addictive. It is a dangerous drug to abuse, and extremely dangerous to go back to after a period of abstinence. Police, counsellors and clients have reported that the increase in heroin use is the result of the abuse of medicinal pain killers such as oxycontin. Many people mistakenly believe that addictions to medicinal pain killers develop gradually, as is often the case with alcohol and marijuana. However, clients have told us that cravings for medicinal drugs can develop rapidly after the first use. Finally, although Maryland has taken steps to relax laws regarding marijuana, there are many individuals who are not able to limit their use to “recreational” use.

Fortunately, Maryland courts and prosecutors make some accommodations for those where are willing to take steps to engage in a safe and healthy lifestyle. Many counties offer programs for minor offenders that may result in a complete dismissal of the charges. For more serious offenders, there may be important advantages to be gained by engaging in substance abuse counseling or treatment. Some counties have implemented “Drug Courts” which employ long-term and intensive supervision of probationers instead of incarceration. Charges might be dismissed and jail time might be avoided depending on the efforts of the client to abandon a previous pattern of drug and alcohol abuse. Even those who are facing incarceration for serious or repeat offenses, may be able to obtain treatment alternatives in lieu of prison.

It his highly rewarding for us to, not only help a client solve his or her legal problem, but also help that client solve a long term substance abuse problem. Instead of just preventing the legal system from working against a client, we often end up making the legal system work for the client. Sometimes, were are called on to advise individuals and families before any legal problems have been encountered. If you or a loved one believe you need guidance regarding a substance abuse problem that is turning into a legal problem, please call the Law Offices of Barry H. Helfand and David Martella at 301-251-9001.