Men between the ages of 19 and 25 in Pennsylvania die of overdose at a rate higher than in any other state in the U.S., according to a recent study by the Trust for America’s Health, a non-profit health organization. The Philadelphia Enquirer reports that Pennsylvania has a drug-related mortality rate of 30.3 per 100,000 young adult male residents, and that within the state, rates are highest in the suburban counties of Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware. 

The story notes that prescription drugs like Percocet and OxyContin can become addictive, and can serve as a gateway drug to heroin when a person’s prescription access to the drugs runs out. Furthermore, heroin is now available in ingestible tablets, making the drug more accessible to those who might otherwise shy away from self-injection. The story also notes that Pennsylvania’s proximity to the Appalachian states, which have high rates of prescription drug addiction, could be contributing to the problem. 

For young people who become addicted to drugs, overdose death is obviously the worst-case outcome. But involvement with drugs can have many other negative consequences. For a young person, being charged with possession, manufacturing/distribution or dealing drugs can mean a dramatically altered future that could include jail time, hefty fines and a criminal record that could limit educational and employment opportunities. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help mitigate those consequences, protecting the accused’s future to the maximum extent possible. 

Clearly, young male adults in Pennsylvania who use drugs are not alone. Young people charged with drug crimes should not face the consequences alone, but enlist the services of a skilled criminal defense lawyer.