Las Vegas Prescription Drug Abuse Growing Problem - 8 News NOW

Edward Lawrence, Reporter

Las Vegas Prescription Drug Abuse Growing Problem

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"Prescription drugs probably is a bigger problem right now than illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana." says Pre-criminal Intervention Officer Wayne Carrington. "Prescription drugs probably is a bigger problem right now than illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana." says Pre-criminal Intervention Officer Wayne Carrington.
UMC Doctor, Don Frisch, says prolong use can make the body crave the high. UMC Doctor, Don Frisch, says prolong use can make the body crave the high.
His last resort is to call narcotics Metro Detective Bryon Twigg. "Unfortunately you come to the point where you get so low and you are into this so much you start doing the crimes." His last resort is to call narcotics Metro Detective Bryon Twigg. "Unfortunately you come to the point where you get so low and you are into this so much you start doing the crimes."

Dangers of Oxycontin

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in Las Vegas. In fact, one local pharmacy alone fills the third highest amount of prescriptions for the highly addictive Oxycodone in the country.

The problem is so severe Nevada now has an intervention officer who works with prescription drug abusers. "Prescription drugs probably is a bigger problem right now than illegal drugs such as cocaine and marijuana." says Pre-criminal Intervention Officer Wayne Carrington.

Carrington helps people who abuse prescription drugs. While there are no exact figures, Carrington says more than 5,000 people are addicted to prescription drugs in the valley making his position necessary. The drug of choice, Oxycontin or Oxycodone, as it's sometimes labeled. UMC pharmacist Don Frisch is not surprised, "Oxycontin is one of those that is used to mainly treat pain. It is also a longer duration drug." Frisch adds prolonged use can make the body crave the high.

Carrington says the majority of Oxycontin addicts are not criminals, but good people with a serious medical problem stemming from legal drugs. "I would say 99.9 percent of the people who I see in this program are people who became addicted or dependent on pharmaceutical drugs because they had a legitimate medical problem." Carrington works without handcuffs and taylors an individual drug program to help an addict recover. "Let's work with them. Let's let them know they are committing a crime. Let's see if we can stop them from committing a crime and get them in the program where they won't have to do it anymore."

His last resort is to call narcotics Metro Detective Bryon Twigg. "Unfortunately you come to the point where you get so low and you are into this so much you start doing the crimes." There's no crime in taking legal prescription drugs like Oxycodone. The crime happens when a patient looks for additional pills. Going to a number of doctors and getting each one to order the same prescription becomes a scam of choice. That's doctor shopping and a felony in Nevada.

Twigg adds, "There are two felony counts every time you do this." the Board of Pharmacy tracks each person who fills a prescription for Oxycontin. If more than one doctor's name comes up as prescribing the drug to the same person, carrington makes a visit. "The person must acknowledge that they have a dependency and then they have to acknowledge they want to get off the medicine." carrington says its not easy for oxycontin addicts to get clean, but he says with the right help, people can turn their lives around.

The Nevada Board of Pharmacy hired the Pre- criminal Intervention Officer through a federal grant. Because so many cases come across his desk, he now only takes the most severe cases.

Click here to email reporter Edward Lawrence 

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