The Desperate Grab for Prescription Painkillers

by Sarah Activism, Healthy LivingComments: 22

America is in pain.  And, this world of hurt is fueling an epidemic of pharmacy robberies across the country.  Addicts and a new breed of drug dealer are resorting to extreme violence to keep their supply of prescription painkillers flowing.

Just last week in Long Island New York, a depraved addict who was once an Army private and intelligence analyst gunned down a pharmacist, two customers, and store clerk before making a getaway with a stash of hydrocodone pills.  There was no warning before the man opened fire.

Most pharmacy robbers are white males and their overwhelming drugs of choice are oxycodone painkillers like Oxycontin and Roxicodone or hydrocodone painkillers like Vicodin and Norco.

Pharmacy robberies are up 81% since 2006 with the number of pills stolen going from 700,000 to 1.3 million during the same time period.

Unlike street drug deals which typically occur in impoverished neighborhoods, pharmacy robberies are happening in middle income and even upscale suburban communities.   All pharmacies appear to be fair game in this widespread epidemic.

Shockingly, prescription painkillers are now the #2 most abused drug in America after marijuana.  Over 7 million Americans used them illegally them within the last month alone.

The problem has become so widespread that the National Community Pharmacists’ Association, representing over 20,000 independent chemists is encouraging the use of  “height signs” in order to assist pharmacy employees to note the height of robbers as they bolt from the store after a successful heist.

Bullet proof glass is being considered by some pharmacies similar to those used by banks, though some in the industry worry that this will further delay the wait for legitimate customers and place a barrier between pharmacist and customer thereby reducing the opportunity to ask and get questions answered.

Prescription Grab is Not Just at the Pharmacy

This new epidemic of hold ups at the local pharmacy is not the only place the illegal grab for painkillers is taking place.   It’s happening at, believe it or not, the ER at hospitals across the country too!

A friend my husband and I recently ran into whose son and daughter-in-law are both ER physicians told us that 70% of the time ER doctors are spending with patients is dealing with fraudulent illness whose main purpose is to get the ER doc to write a prescription for painkillers.

Do you get the picture?

“Doc, my back is killing me, I can’t move – I need some of that Oxycontin stuff!”

ER doctors, in my opinion, are some of the best in the business and deserve our respect and admiration for the amazing critical care work they do.   These doctors display modern medicine at its finest.   They certainly do not need to have their time wasted by addicts coming in to see them who fake illnesses with the sole purpose of scoring a painkiller prescription!

There are plenty of legitimate people for these doctors to help in the ER.  Lines are long enough in the ER as it is without addicts adding to the mix.

Considering the sorry state of the majority of people’s diets and how pain is a symptom of nutritional deficiency and inflammation resulting from poor food choices – just a wild guess, but something tells me this whole painkiller addiction problem is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.


Source: Pharmacy Robberies Sweeping US

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Comments (22)

  • Issac Maez

    Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

    February 20th, 2012 6:59 pm Reply
  • Jim

    I don’t understand, really, why it is anyone’s business what an individual wishes to take. This is America, after all. Narcotic pain medications are not significantly (with a few exceptions for certain synthetic drugs such as Demerol, Darvocet, and Tramadol, the former two of which have been severely restricted on the US market, thankfully…) neuro- or organotoxic, and if they were, they would still likely be less detrimental to the average user than alcohol.

    It seems to me that most of the harms that come from these drugs are related to what happens when an individual’s access to them is restricted, rather than from the drugs themselves, as seems to be the case with certain substances. I work, I pay taxes, and I really don’t care if my neighbor happens to enjoy taking drugs. I also feel that, in fact, if she is in pain and needs a drug that some people happen to like taking in order to function, then I don’t think that she should be denied a comfortable life, just in case she might be enjoying it. It isn’t right for us to force our agendas on others, and good diet and enough exercise just isn’t enough for people in severe pain. If the government and FDA were to afford addicts access to cheap, legal, clean drugs of known purity, we also would not have to be so afraid of them robbing us in order to afford them. I simply cannot understand what it is that has made so many people so prejudiced and hateful towards individuals who wish to use drugs, especially given that most using these particular drugs got started because of legitimate pain. Live and let live. Let’s do what we can to make our communities safer for those who are not intentionally harming their bodies, and leave those who are alone for the sake of keeping our streets safe-ish and our tax payments lower.

    Why are more people not seeing this upsurge in drug abuse (I frankly don’t think that it’s really that much of an upsurge, just that Americans don’t really care about minorities, and this particular drug usage trend happens to be visible in the suburbs.) and calling for a more sensible public policy? Must we find ourselves offended, should our neighbor enjoy ANYTHING we feel is wrong, or dirty, or offensive – even if said act harms none but himself? We’re adults, it’s time we act like it, and stop voting for those who’d wish to play the bully shoving dirt clods in the faces of the nerds who’d rather read than play football – because what they like is different than what we like and thus scary and offensive.

    November 23rd, 2011 4:14 am Reply
  • geoge


    July 28th, 2011 10:09 am Reply
  • Martha

    When I read this post, I couldn’t help but think of Dr. Campbell McBride’s comment in her book about how many kids with gut disbyosis grow up to have addictions to drugs and or alcohol. The constant ingestions of drugs, just makes this worse. it’s a vicious cycle.

    June 29th, 2011 10:03 pm Reply
  • Jen

    This post is so sad. I had surgery on my toe a few years ago, and part of the bone was removed. I was in serious pain! I was prescribed Vicodin, and was so thankful to have it the first few days. I knew the risk of addiction though, and after about 4 days (before the bottle was empty) I switched to Ibuprofen for a few days, then stopped taking anything. I found the partial bottle of Vicodin in my medicine cabinet a few years later and finally threw it away.

    My husband is the same way. He had surgery for a hernia last fall, and was prescribed hydrocodone. There is still a half bottle in the medicine cabinet that needs to be tossed.

    Despite a few health issues in the past, we are both prescription free and plan to stay that way! I agree with a previous comment: real food nutrition and healing is the only way to go.

    June 29th, 2011 4:32 am Reply
  • Peggy

    I was on long-term pain relief therapy after multiple, bungled knee surgeries in the 1970s. I went several times a year to a pain clinic where my pain levels were monitored, extensive counseling took place and alternative therapies were tried. In the twelve months before embarking on a real food diet, I wore a TENS machine, applied novocaine transdermal patches, took three prescriptions (including Vicodin), practiced biofeedback, had acupuncture, walked with a cane bent over like an old woman and was daily in so much pain I rarely left the house. Within a year of taking fermented cod liver oil, drinking raw milk, eating fermented foods daily and cutting back on grains, I set aside my cane and was able to cut back on all my other pain control therapies drastically.

    Two years later, I’m walking for exercise (something the doctors said I’d never be able to do), gardening, swimming, have permanently “misplaced” my cane and have let the Vicodin prescription lapse. Food made the difference for me when medical science failed me. I only wish I’d known thirty years ago.

    June 28th, 2011 5:16 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Peggy, it’s always better late than never. Congratulations on reclaiming your life and the health you deserve! It takes some out of the box thinking to do what you’ve done which is not always easy to accomplish. Well done!

      June 28th, 2011 6:35 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    My mom is currently taking vicoden for the pain she experienced after having two teeth pulled (they were in terrible shape). She’s not the addictive type, but you article once again shows the importance of trying to stay away from Big Pharma and conventional medicine and instead relying on natural remedies and real food. After two days my mom noticed the vicoden wasn’t working anymore so I made her a cup of tea of chamomile and dandelion root. She said it helped a little.

    June 28th, 2011 4:14 pm Reply
  • JCF

    My dad has a legitimate back injury that causes him chronic, excruciating pain. His insurance company won’t pay for his pain killers (which he hates taking, but must in order to function) unless he goes twice a year for what basically amounts to torture. They jab his damaged nerves with needles to prove that he isn’t faking his pain. It is awful, and it is absolutely the fault of prescription pain med addicts.

    June 28th, 2011 4:00 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    Since changing to a whole foods diet I can’t remember the last time I took a pain pill either. And I used to take several throughout the week for headaches and nausea associated with oncoming headaches. I still get a headache from time to time, but not bad enough that I feel I need a painkiller. The odd time during my period I take one or two advil, but even that is becoming more rare. It’s amazing what a healthy diet can do for your body – just amazing!!
    It astounds me that people still refuse to acknowledge the connection of diet to overall health.

    June 28th, 2011 3:09 pm Reply
  • damaged justice

    Also of note that the drugs being abused here are modern refined versions of simple opium, which has a documented human history covering thousands of years of safe and effective use. Part of the current so-called “epidemic of drug abuse” is a the modern authoritarian mindset which equates all use with abuse and/or demands total control over everything we choose to put into our bodies. Of course this ratchet can only tighten, until something gives — witness how easily the “war on drugs” has mutated into the “war on traditional farmers and foods”. What actual abuse there is, stems mainly from the general breakdown of civil society, as well as the increased attempts at total control over the populace (prohibition only “works” for those whose paycheck depends on something being illegal). Equally significant is the artificially concentrated nature of these modern, refined versions — from poppy tea to heroin, from coca leaves to cocaine, from sugar cane to sugar — divorced from their proper context. Hence the average person is told it’s dangerous and/or forbidden to ingest certain substances for any purposes, whether medicinal, spiritual or recreational, and that instead they must consult a properly licensed professional, who will dutifully grant them temporary permission to ingest a refined, concentrated version of a natural product, all to further enrich the coffers of those whose profits depend on this artificial state of “soft tyranny”.

    June 28th, 2011 2:01 pm Reply
  • Laurie

    Yep, nasty stuff. This is the more obvious, violent side, but millions are suffering because of their degraded health. It’s so sad that we’re popping pills for joint pain and osteoporosis while eating boneless, skinless chicken and processed chicken-like nuggets, scarfing antacids and irritable bowel meds instead of live culture foods and so on.

    June 28th, 2011 12:42 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Very true. Very few people go through a week anymore without popping at least one or two pain pills for something.

      I have to say that getting free of pain is one of the BEST things about a nutrient dense, Real Food diet. I can’t remember the last time I had a pain pill for anything. It has been years.

      June 28th, 2011 12:52 pm Reply
  • Todd

    In my eyes this is another reason to end the war on drugs. If people want to put this garbage in their bodies, which clearly they do, then let them go buy it. At least then they won’t need to kill innocent people because a doctor won’t write them a script.

    I think you tried to make the point that people are in pain and that is why the craze for these pain meds. I don’t think they are really in pain, no more pain than an alcoholic or any other drug abbuser. They like the high.

    BTW love the blog!!

    June 28th, 2011 12:41 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, you are right about that. A high is a big reason BUT the original reason these folks got addicted in the first place was pain. Most of these folks are law abiding, good people that got addicted to these nasty drugs while trying to get free of some kind of debilitating pain. A friend of mine (Mom of 3) got addicted to pain meds without realizing it as she had migraines all the time. Had to go to a hospital and detox for a couple of weeks to get off them for heaven’s sake!

      June 28th, 2011 12:55 pm Reply
      • Sasha

        I agree w/ Sarah. I actually am a Social Worker at a medical detox in Colorado. The majority of our patients have been prescribed pain medications because of a surgery or injury. We see Veterans, Therapists, Doctors, etc. Addiction can creep into anyone’s life. It is true that these pills can get people ‘high’ but there’s more to it than that. It’s important to look at someone as an individuals and avoid the stigmas/stereotypes that society has developed.
        Plus… SO many Docs get kick backs from prescribing this stuff- some just hand it out. It’s an epedemic….
        I don’t even want to start on the topic of adderall (the FDA approved an off-label prescription for children as young as 3 to be put on this stimulant!).
        Money. Money. Money.

        July 7th, 2011 12:27 pm Reply
  • Stephanie Pruett Amuso via Facebook

    My husband and I are joyfully Rx free….and intend to stay that way for life! Nutritional healing is better :)

    June 28th, 2011 12:39 pm Reply
  • Brooke L Allen via Facebook

    That’s crazy! My husband has a medical condition that flares up and he sometimes needs pain pills for that, but I prefer the lowest dose that I can get away with. I’m not sure if it’s a nutrition problem, but it could be.

    June 28th, 2011 12:02 pm Reply
  • Mike Lieberman

    It’s the sad reality that we live in these days. Big Pharma runs and controls the government. These are also the same people that are helping to produce our “food” so it makes sense.

    This is why what you are doing in terms of raising awareness about eating healthy is so important. Keep doing what you do.

    June 28th, 2011 11:56 am Reply
  • Olga Biondi via Facebook

    the pharmacy drive thru is the only way to go now

    June 28th, 2011 11:55 am Reply
  • Anita Messenger via Facebook

    Our son’s fiance’ and a friend of our’s both died from prescription painkillers (one overdosed accidently – she had lupus – and the other suffocated).

    June 28th, 2011 11:54 am Reply
  • Sue Elmy via Facebook

    The US is OVER MEDICATED!!!!!!

    June 28th, 2011 11:47 am Reply

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