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Which Prescription Drug is Involved in your Case?

Illegal possession and sale of prescription drugs carries serious penalties

What are the Commonly Prescribed and Abused Prescription Drugs?


Space does not permit the listing of all prescription drugs, but an experienced Phoenix controlled substance lawyer can tell you about the drug involved in your case. Some of the more common prescription drugs that fall under the law follow, along with their medical purposes, and some important facts about each:


A trade name for the generic drug alprazolam, Xanax is a member of the class of medications known as benzodiazepines. It is used primarily to treat anxiety and panic disorders, as well as depression – essentially, Xanax is a sedative. It is the most prescribed, and most abused, of the benzodiazepines, and prolonged use carries with it the possibility of psychological and/or physical dependence (the need for ever-increasing and more frequent doses in order to obtain the same effect), and withdrawal symptoms (pain, discomfort and sometimes dangerous symptoms if the use of Xanax is abruptly stopped). In addition, the list of possible adverse reactions to the use and abuse of Xanax is substantial and includes drowsiness, fatigue, loss of inhibitions and dizziness.

The standard side effects do not, however, tell the whole story. And that story includes an unfortunately typical one concerning behavior of those who abuse drugs. A recent news story contained a report of a burglary arrest in which an iPad was stolen out of a vehicle. When asked why he committed the crime, the suspect stated merely that at the time of the break-in, he was under the influence of Xanax, the implication being that the crime was facilitated through the loss of inhibition, and/or mental confusion, resulting from the use of the drug.


A naturally occurring isomer, or variation, of methylated morphine, codeine is an opiate. Its primary prescription uses are the alleviation of mild to moderate pain, and to stop a cough. Side effects (that is, effects other than prescription uses) include itching, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, depression and constipation. If that were the entire spectrum of effects, one might be safe in concluding that the drug would not be widely abused. However, codeine also causes euphoria, and chronic use leads to physical dependence.

The problems with prescription drug abuse affect all strata of society in the United States. Take the case of Shawne Williams, a professional basketball player. He was arrested in Memphis for selling a codeine substance, which is a felony in Tennessee. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge, and received probation, a fine, and mandatory attendance at a drug offender school. With a base salary at times in excess of $3,000,000, Williams’ drug sale charges could not have been the result of the need for money. Nor does it appear that it was merely a case of bad judgment. Rather, once again the abuse of a prescription drug led to additional criminal behavior. The result in Williams’ case suggests that he was well-represented on the legal front, and his life has apparently turned around since resolution of the case. If you have been charged with a codeine offense, or other crimes related to your use of codeine, follow Williams’ example: hire a qualified Phoenix codeine attorney to guide you through the process.


This is a synthetic opiate that is similar to codeine. The most common trade name associated with hydrocodone is Vicodin. As in the case of codeine, its most common prescribed uses are for alleviation of moderate to severe pain and as a cough suppressant. It is important to note, however, that hydrocodone is 6 times as strong as codeine. Side effects are similar to those of codeine, including euphoria and a warm, pleasant numbing sensation throughout the body. That sensation increases at higher doses of the medicine.

The potential charges involving prescription drugs can, and often do, involve far more than merely possessing or selling the drugs. According to a recent article, Prescott police arrested a woman who allegedly forged 15 of her stepfather’s checks, totaling thousands of dollars. The woman told the arresting officer that she forged the checks because she needed money to buy hydrocodone (Vicodin) and other drugs. Because of the relationship between prescription drug use and charges such theft, forgery (of either prescriptions or checks), DUI, and even violent offenses, it is important to receive competent legal advice concerning any charges against you. If you are charged with any offense relating, directly or indirectly, to the use or abuse of hydrocodone, contact an attorney today.


Also referred to as “tincture of opium”, laudanum contains, among other things, morphine and codeine. It is used today primarily as a diarrhea control medication, and to ease withdrawal symptoms in infants born addicted to opiates. It is one of the most potent forms of morphine available. The use of laudanum has a substantial history in the United States, which includes connections to Wyatt Earp, whose common law wife was addicted to laudanum; Doc Holliday, who was dependent upon both laudanum and alcohol; and Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, who was a laudanum addict. Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and author Thomas DeQuincy both used laudanum. It has also been claimed that laudanum was used by George Washington, Louisa May Alcott and Florence Nightingale.

While generally associated with the old West and Victorian times in England, laudanum is still around today. It is what is known by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an “unapproved drug”, because, unlike more modern substances, it was sold prior to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act of 1938. As a result, it holds “grandfathered” status, and has not been subject to strict FDA review and approval process. Laudanum has some of the same side effects as other morphine-based drugs, including euphoria and sedation.


OxyContin is a trade name for a time-release form of (generic) oxycodone, which is an opiate related to morphine, heroin and methadone. As prescribed, it is used for the relief of moderate to severe pain, and it is highly addictive. Street names for OxyContin include oxy, OC, and O. It is designed as a time-release capsule, but the effect can be increased by various methods of ingestion. The potential for abuse is so great that the FDA has approved a new formulation of the drug that cannot be tampered with to release more oxycodone. Problems with OxyContin have also led one United States Attorney’s Office to launch what it called “Operation Oxyclean”. That operation targeted money laundering, health care fraud and theft involving the drug.

A recent arrest in Scottsdale demonstrates the additional charges that may be filed in OxyContin-related incidents. In that case, a man allegedly handed a note to the pharmacist demanding OxyContin. Upon his arrest, the suspect was charged with robbery, weapons misconduct and possession of narcotics. In a separate incident, a Phoenix detective was charged with stealing OxyContin from the police evidence room. The detective allegedly attempted to cover up the theft by replacing the drug with the over-the-counter medication Aleve.

The potential for abuse of OxyContin is substantial, and may lead to charges going well beyond possession and distribution of the substance.


Known by a variety of names (including Sublimaze, Actiq, Durogesic, Fentora, Matrifen, Haldid, Onsolis, Instanyl, Abstral, Lazanda), fentanyl is a quick-acting and short-lasting synthetic narcotic used for the treatment of pain. The primary form of fentanyl sold on the black market is the transdermal fentanyl patch. It is also known as synthetic heroin. Side effects are similar to other narcotics, and the danger of dependency and overdose are significant. Regular use leads to dependence quickly; fentanyl is more addictive than heroin, and may be hundreds of times more potent. A dozen different versions of the drug have been produced for illegal sale and use.

Examples of charges involving fentanyl are not difficult to locate. An interesting situation was reported at the Mayo Clinic, where two employees, in entirely separate incidents, allegedly were found to have been using hospital fentanyl supplies for their own use. In one case, a nurse was arrested, and reportedly confessed to stealing the drug, stating that he was using it to relieve stress. In the other case, the employee was charged with tampering with a consumer product, and five counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. Once again, the list of possible charges goes beyond mere possession. Don’t face these charges alone.


Valium is the trade name for a brand of a generic substance called diazepam. Its primary prescribed uses are to relax muscles, relieve anxiety, and treat insomnia. Side effects are similar to other drugs listed, and include short-term memory loss, especially at high doses. The risk of dependency with valium is high.

The far-ranging effects of abusing valium can be seen on a regular basis by looking at news reports of drug arrests. A young woman was recently arrested in Mesa. Interestingly, the arrest came after the woman was stopped because she was suspected of engaging in a fight earlier that evening at a grocery store. She was found to have an outstanding warrant, and was also charged with possession of diazepam, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Another case involving valium possession/use and related behavior took place in California, where the defendant was stopped after driving 121 miles per hour on an interstate highway. A search of his car allegedly revealed over 100 valium pills, as well as other drugs and drug paraphernalia. The suspect admitted taking valium that morning, and this was confirmed by toxicology results. He was charged and convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance and DUI. The range of possible charges resulting from use of valium is substantial, and an experienced valium attorney can provide you with the best defense against drug and related charges.


A trade name for methylphenidate, Ritalin is a psychostimulant approved for treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because it is pharmacologically similar to cocaine and amphetamines, Ritalin has a high potential for abuse. Increased dosage, as well as being taken through non-traditional methods, is more likely to produce a euphoric effect. A recent article in the Opinion section of the New York Times noted that Ritalin, traditionally prescribed for children with ADHD, loses its beneficial effects over time, and is habit-forming. As noted in a survey by the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, the use of methylphenidate (Ritalin) has increased dramatically in recent years. The survey goes on to state that literature concerning ADHD for public consumption does not address potential abuse of the drug; rather, it is portrayed as a mild, benign substance, when in fact it shares the same abuse potential as other Schedule II stimulants under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Those stimulants include methamphetamine and cocaine.

If, as the government suggests, the habit-forming nature of Ritalin places it in the same category as substances such as cocaine, one would expect the same results from abuse of the drug. Not surprisingly, we have children allegedly selling Ritalin to schoolmates. Contact a lawyer if you or your child has been charged with any offense involving or relating to Ritalin.


Prescribed for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall, a brand name, is an amphetamine stimulant. Use over time can lead to tolerance, meaning that more of the drug is needed to produce the desired result. Adderall users may become both psychologically and physically dependent upon the substance. Basically, this drug increases energy, makes the user more alert, increases the ability to concentrate, and produces a euphoric effect. It enjoys extreme popularity among college students. It is also subject to abuse in the dosages taken, and in the alternative methods of consumption, such as “snorting” the drug. And while the drug is intended to alleviate symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, a report has described Adderall as one of Arizona State University’s “favorite study buddies”.

There are a substantial number of relatively minor side effects associated with Adderall use, including headaches, insomnia, irritability and anxiety; more significant side effects include blood pressure and heart problems, hallucinations, psychosis, aggression and violence. Indeed, a portion of the medication guide from the manufacturer of Adderall warns of possible “new or worse aggressive behavior or hostility” in all patients, not just children. If you or your child has been charged with any offense relating to the use of Adderall, including possession, distribution, DUI, theft or a violent crime, contact a Lawyer to protect your rights.


Marketed under certain brand names, including Ativan, lorazepam is another benzodiazepine drug. It is prescribed primarily for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. The use of benzodiazepine drugs causes dependence and subsequent withdrawal symptoms even after short-term use, and it has relatively strong amnesic effects. Approximately one-third of those treated for longer than 4 weeks experience dependency and symptoms of withdrawal. And it should be noted that lorazepam is one of the more potent benzodiazepines. As the drug is used for longer periods, tolerance increases, requiring more of the substance to obtain the same effect. When coupled with dependency and the onset of withdrawal symptoms, the result is often disastrous.

Reports indicate that there are numerous side effects of lorazepam use in addition to amnesia, including drowsiness, mental confusion and coma. It is believed that the drug is widely used prior to the commission of many crime (it lowers inhibitions), and, along with other benzodiazepines, lorazepam is the most commonly used drug in attempted suicides. Given the combination of dependency, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and mental confusion, it is not surprising that those addicted to lorazepam may resort to violent behavior, as well as theft.


In addition to OxyContin (above), other trade names of oxycodone include Percocet (oxycodone combined with paracetamol (Tylenol)) and Percodan (oxycodone combined with acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)). Both are narcotic drugs prescribed for moderate to severe pain, and both have the same risks of dependence and withdrawal. In addition to euphoria, especially at higher doses, the side effects of oxycodone, include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and light-headedness. Keep in mind that in addition to state drug laws, federal law comes into play in situations involving oxycodone, in particular the distribution of and conspiracy to distribute the drug. Additional penalties and prison time can result from a prosecution by the United States Attorney. In that regard, the FBI recently reported the conviction of a man for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and he was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison.

It has been estimated that the United States consumes 82% of the total amount of oxycodone manufactured world-wide. The United States also claims the highest per capita consumption of the drug in the world. The International Narcotics Control Board reports, among other problems with this narcotic drug, that an increasing number of deaths across North America and Europe are due to oxycodone abuse.

Phoenix Prescription Drug Lawyer – Law Offices of David A. Black


At the Law Offices of David A. Black, we are experienced when it comes to representing clients charged with drug and drug-related offenses. If you have been charged with a prescription drug crime, contact an experienced prescription drug attorney today.

Call 480-280-8028 today for a free consultation.