With the opioid epidemic showing no signs of slowing, Georgia state officials are looking to legal action for an answer.

The state’s government has joined many other states in the pursuit to end mass opioid addiction by suing nine drug manufacturing and distributing companies for propagating the drug and reaping its profits.

Misleading patients across the country

The lawsuit was brought by Attorney General Chris Carr and is meant to reimburse the state of Georgia for the expenses of the opioid crisis, according to Carr. Carr accuses the manufacturers and distributors of highlighting the drug’s benefits while minimizing its dangers in order to perpetuate opioid addiction for profit.

29 other states have taken similar legal action against opioid-related companies and President Trump has even called on the federal government to take action as well.

Last year, the state of Alabama sued Purdue Pharma, citing the OxyContin producer’s failure to accurately portray risks associated with the drug. New Jersey officials sued a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures opioids over the same concern of misleading its customers into danger.

The opioids you could be prescribed

There are both legal and illegal opioids. Examples of legal opioids you might see on the market or be prescribed include:

  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Naloxone (Narcan)

A popular illegal opioid is heroin. Illegally manufactured fentanyl has also become more popular in recent years.

All types of opioids produce a morphine-like, numbing effect. Opium, being the most notable, was originally used for pain relief or anesthesia. However, it was later discovered that opioids have addictive properties and can produce physiological effects.

Why opioids are dangerous

These drugs become particularly dangerous when they are misused. If the tablets are crushed and snorted or diluted and injected, the time-release mechanism can be broken so that the effects of the drug occur all at once, instead of a little at a time.

Binging a drug in this way can feel euphoric in the moment, which encourages addiction. However, it can easily lead to an overdose, resulting in the failure of normal bodily functions and death.

Carr claimed that thousands of Georgia residents have lost their lives to opioid use in the last year.

How opioid charges are handled

Because opioid use can be addictive, those who are found in possession of an illegally obtained opioid may be able to face alternative penalties. Drug court offers offenders a chance at rehabilitation rather than incarceration if the program is completed successfully.

If you or someone you know faces opioid-related charges, talk to a criminal defense attorney to discuss details of the drug court near you and whether you may be eligible for the program.