So many stories of people accused of robbery, burglary and other theft crimes begin with opiate addiction. And the addiction that fuels the crime often can be traced to a doctor’s prescription after an injury.

Opioids are powerful drugs that can block pain, but they can also be highly addictive. Not everyone whose doctor prescribes them one of these drugs, such as fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone, becomes addicted. But the risk of developing a physical dependence is very high. Once addicted, it can become increasingly difficult to get a refill on your prescription. So you buy opioids off the street or eventually turn to street drugs like heroin to satisfy your cravings. You could lose your job and run out of money, and have to turn to armed robbery to afford your habit.

In a particularly dramatic example, last year, Bloomberg interviewed a man who reportedly robbed 30 banks in just one year. He was a successful engineer working for Boeing and traveling around the world. Then a slipped disk in his spine required surgery. Afterward, his doctor prescribed OxyContin for the pain. It was not long until the man was addicted.

A rehab stay in 2010 did not solve the problem. Eventually, he was living in his car in the parking lot outside of work with his adult son. By this time, he was using heroin and spending hundreds of dollars a day. Desperate, he and his son robbed a bank but got caught by the police.

Never carried a weapon

Two years later, the man began robbing banks again. This time, he was much more successful, at least for a while. Amazingly, the man says he never carried a weapon on any of his robberies. He said he relied on the fact that bank tellers are trained not to resist robbers. Eventually, the FBI arrested him. The man eventually pleaded guilty to several first-degree robbery and theft charges in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.

When addiction forces you to break the law

Addiction can be a powerful drive that overwhelms your old priorities and derail your dreams. If you are struggling with drug addiction and have been accused of a felony, you need experienced and dedicated assistance from a criminal defense attorney. Besides defending you against the charges, your lawyer may be able to connect you with services to help you treat your addiction.