Prescription medications are meant to ease the pain, to help people recovering from surgery or those need the medication for daily purposes.

Prescription medications are meant to ease the pain, to help people recovering from surgery or those need the medication for daily purposes.


But prescription medications can tempt those with a dangerous addiction.

Detective John McGlenn of the Marysville Police Department said prescription drug theft is common in Marysville.

It is an issue the Police Department has to get involved in every day.

"I would have to say prescription drugs are probably the most abused drugs we have in our community," he said. "Everyone has access to them."

Drugabuse.org describes prescription drug abuse as "the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings elicited."

It sites several national surveys that show certain prescription medications are abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users. They include opioids, usually prescribed to treat pain, central nervous system depressants used for anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

McGlenn said the number of prescription drug theft reports on the police department's website makes it appear that theft is the problem. But there is an explanation for all the reports of medication thefts.

"Most doctors in our community have a policy that states if you lose your pills or they get stolen, the only way they will refill them is if they have a police report. If they're abusing the pills they might run out of the pills early and they'll file a police report so the doctor will call in additional scrips."

In fact, many of the area doctors' offices have what's called a "pain contract."

"The doctor's have done a very good job with pain contracts," said McGlenn. The contract means the doctor will give a patient a prescription but the patient has to promise to only get the medicine from that one doctor and one pharmacy. If they violate the contract the doctor will no longer see the patient.

McGlenn said the abuse of prescription drugs came on the scene about five or six years ago.

He said when addicts get hooked on pain medicine it is most likely an Opioid base product and it is just a stepping stone to more serious drugs, like heroin.

McGlenn explained for example, a pain killer-pill goes for about $1 a milligram. If a person is addicted, that can get expensive fast. "You can get 7 unit doses of heroin for $100 which will get you through your entire day.

So they're switching over from pills which are too expensive to something more dangerous," said McGlenn. And that is how they take the next step to heroin. It's cheaper and it fills their need for that high.

He said prescription drug addicts look like anyone.

"It can be anybody. It's amazing; I have everything from teenagers who are using, to young adults, to older adults on fixed incomes."

McGlenn said he once had a case of a man living on a fixed income who was able to get his pain medication through his medical plan and he would sell half of his pills to help him make the rent payment.

McGlenn said some reports of prescription drugs are legitimate but if the same person files a theft report three or four times a year then that is a red flag for the police.

"We'll fill out the police report for you but we're calling the doctor ourselves. We'll call if there are multiple reports on file then we let the doctors know and let them make the decision if they need the meds."

McGlenn said prescription drug abuse affects everyone from the elderly, to the young adults with pain issues, to teenagers.
He said teenagers start taking these prescription meds unaware of the danger.

"The hardest things I think for kids to understand is pills come from a doctor-so how could they hurt you? They don't understand who's allergic to what, what the dosage is for a certain person and the problem is they just don't grasp it," McGlenn said. "Most of these kids are good kids. They don't want to screw up. "

McGlenn has tried to be proactive and contact parents but many of them do not want to hear it. He said it is as if they don't understand or are afraid they will be blamed for bad parenting.

"Any kid at any time can be susceptible to this," McGlenn said. " I'm very big on drug testing. It's the only way for a parent to know for sure. There are home drug tests kits at CVS right now. Test your kid every once in a while, if they're clean then they're clean."

McGlenn said he sympathizes with the doctors who also have to deal with the possibility of patients trying to get around the rules.

"You're asking someone to measure something that they can't see and that's pain. They're in a tough situation; they want to help their patients. They feel a sense of community; they don't want this problem here either."

From the elderly, to young adults to teenagers and even the doctors, the people affected by prescription drug abuse are all touched by this addiction, he said.

"I think we're a close-knit community and I think this topic more than any other has touched everyone. It's kind of at the forefront of a lot of our discussions which gives the impression we're being overrun with drugs. And that's not the case, not more so than anyone else."

While the police department does not track prescription drug abuse arrests specifically, McGlenn said it is out there.

"Pills are always going to be here," he said. "It's just a matter of keeping them out of the hands that don't need them."