Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem and it's prompted the Obama administration to seek changes in the Controlled Substance Act. The President is calling for special training for doctors that prescribe certain drugs and for the pharmacists that fill those prescriptions.
Major Bill Berry of the Albany Drug Unit says the abuse of prescription medications is just as widespread as the abuse of marijuana or cocaine. "The biggest one we see, the common denominator, is pain pills," said Berry. "And obviously, the oxycodone, the one they refer to as "roxy" on the street."
Combating the problem can be a complex challenge. "We're having to be almost in a reactive role," said Berry.
Prescription drugs are highly addictive and available at every corner pharmacy through legal and non-legal means. "There are forged prescriptions," said Dr. Stephanie Sceals, a pharmacist with U-Sav-It. "There are changed prescriptions where they add a number on there â" it said 'twenty' and they add a 'one.' "
Experts say the most effective treatment method for addicts is a long-term stay at a rehabilitation facility that treats both the addiction and its underlying causes. "24 hours a day of dealing with your emotions, dealing with reality, dealing with your choices of addiction, dealing with your family, and just learning to deal with it in a healthy way," said Ashley Houston, program coordinator for Grace Way.
Grace Way offers a drug rehabilitation program designed specifically for women. Staff members told us that every one of the 32 clients currently staying here is addicted to prescription medication. "Addiction is not just a word anymore," added Houston. "It's not under the rug. It is full-blown, active in the community and the world, it's getting worse."