Increase In Prescription Abuse Linked To Rise In Heroin Abuse - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Increase In Prescription Abuse Linked To Rise In Heroin Abuse

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A rise in teens hooked on Heroin.

The Iowa Drug Control Office says people abusing prescription pain killers has become a major problem for the state.

And our local drug enforcement groups say that's connected to another disturbing trend.

Prescription pain killers like Vicodin are readily available on the streets.

Drug addiction groups say they're over prescribed and easy to get.

Often stolen from medicine cabinets, or bought on the street for five dollars a pill.

The pain killers belong to the same family of drugs as Heroin.

And when an addict runs out of pills, they move on to the harder drug.

"I've seen a remarkable jump in prescription drug addiction in the last few years," says Rock Island County Council on Addictions Director Mary Engholm. There's no specific type of person abusing prescription drugs. It starts with people in pain. Not realizing how powerful their doctor's remedy is.

"They feel like they need the drug more often than the dosage recommends, or doubling up on the dose."

Teenagers addicted to prescription drugs can begin abusing them by simply stealing them from the medicine cabinet, but as their tolerance goes up they may need to go to a harder drug, Heroin.

"It's a painkiller, their bodies become accustomed to that feeling, when they're no longer able to procure the pills it's an easy transition with the Columbian Heroin that they can sniff," says Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Group Director Kevin Winslow.

He says Chicago is supplying the Quad Cities with a cheap, easy to use form of Heroin from Columbia.

"We do cases daily where Quad City residents, traveling to Chicago to the west side of the city, to procure the Heroin sometimes they're making two and three trips a day."

Winslow's officers are trying to stop the flow of Heroin into the Quad Cities. But he says until the prescription drug problem is plugged, more people will be demanding a stronger high.

"I think there's a strong link between the two, and I think if you break that link, you'll stop a lot of people that may transition to Heroin."

The Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Group is working with federal agents in Des Moines to dam up the flow of prescription medication.

They're identifying doctor's offices that are over prescribing.

And intercepting packages from pill factories on the East and West Coasts.

Iowa has a database that tracks prescription drug purchases.

But pharmacists are not required to look at it before filling a prescription.

And less than 25 percent of doctors have registered to use it.