Painkiller Addiction Spikes Sales
CHARLOTTE, NC- A big spike in painkiller sales is fueled by addiction.
It's not about relieving pain. Patients are “doctor shopping” for painkillers to keep the prescriptions coming, even when they don't need them.
"They go from one emergency room to the other There's just a big drug ring and they just travel from state to state just getting pills," said Nathan Ikner, a pharmacist at Walker’s Drug Store in Cotswold.
Ikner says he turns away at least five people a day trying to fill out-of-state prescriptions. He even turns away locals who's prescriptions seem bogus.
"They're so addictive and they're very profitable. So, that's why they're so attractive right now," said Ikner.
Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are the painkillers with the highest demand. That's one of the reasons the street value of one of these pills can cost up to 50 bucks.
"They might be unemployed, don't have money for other things, so what they do is they go out and sell the drugs that are being prescribed by the doctor," said John Thomas, a state certified substance abuse counselor.
Thomas says more teens are getting addicted to painkillers because they're easy to get and are harder to detect.
"Parents can't really tell they're on it unless they really pay attention and notice the child is nodding a lot, they're drooling or they're drowsy all the time," said Thomas.
Some abusers swallow the pills, while others crush them, then smoke, snort, or inject the powder,” said Thomas.
"It's sad to say that there are also doctors out there that are prescribing these drugs knowing that they shouldn't be," said Thomas.
If the person doesn't have pain, the pills can numb the body and block out unwanted feelings or problems. Someone could get addicted in as little as two weeks.
The Drug Enforcement Administration tracks painkiller shipments to pharmacies and hospitals.
They don't keep track of how much each patient receives.