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OxyContin abuse hits Rocklin

Police aim to prosecute irresponsible doctors
By: Jon Brines, Special to The Placer Herald
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A new drug of choice has taken over the streets of Rocklin and Roseville and now officers admit there is little they can do to stop it. “OxyContin makes me feel euphoric,” said Jane, an addict turned police informant who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You could be on it and nobody would know.” To doctors, OxyContin is a painkiller used only by prescription. “It’s not your average pain medication, an equivalent of 60 pain pills in one tablet,” said Dr. Charlie Moore, medical director for the Chemical Dependency Recovery Program at Kaiser Permanente. A spokesperson for Sutter Roseville Medical Center declined comment. Police said those prescription pills are winding up on the black market in alarming numbers with a street value of $50 a pill. Last month, the Roseville Police Department narcotics unit seized 359 prescription pills. That’s dramatically up from February when there were only six pills seized for the entire month. It’s now up to 3,000 pills for the year, found in the hands of old and young alike, police said. “It’s the biggest threat right now,” said Rocklin Officer Brandon Olivera. “If we don’t get a handle on that real quick, it’s going to be real bad,” said Roseville Police Detective Michael Lackl. “It’s terrible,” Jane said. ”It takes a little less than 24 hours for the withdrawal to kick in. It’s like the flu but times 1,000. Once that happens, you get desperate.” Jane, not her real name, is a young Roseville resident in her mid 20s, college educated, but OxyContin has changed her life forever. OxyContin can kill, Dr. Moore warns. “I’ve known friends who have died,” said Jane. “Unfortunately, you still go to their funeral high.” Trying to avoid sickening withdrawal at all costs, Jane said it has driven her to hurt people. “I would steal to get the OxyContin,” she said. In Roseville and Rocklin, burglary, theft and car break-ins are all on the rise this year compared to last as addicts try to fund their habit, police said. Two weeks ago, an undercover Roseville police officer was robbed trying to stop an alleged prescription drug dealer, Lackl said. Both Lackl and Olivera agree, doctors need to realize how their prescriptions are affecting people in their community and take a more active role. “The doctors are handing these prescriptions out like candy,” Lackl said. “Doctors need to be educated and work with us.” Moore disagrees and said the notion is contrary to a doctor-patient relationship. “Patients are reluctant to seek treatment if they think you are somehow going to get them in trouble with the police,” Moore said. Dr. Moore concedes medicine is abused. “Physicians are generally going to be biased to treating patients as patients and not as potential law breakers,” Moore said. “That may result in some occasional accidental diversion of medication.” Detective Lackl said his department is keeping tabs on dirty doctors in Roseville and will use undercover police officers and confidential informants like Jane to catch them. “I know certain doctors in Roseville that I can go to,” Jane said. “OxyContin is pretty easy to get in Roseville.” Moore is doubtful such abuse is common. “That’s a rare kind of behavior,” Moore said. “I’m sure there are physicians somewhere in the universe that prescribe medication knowing full well that they are going to be perverted and they do it anyway.” Lackl plans to bend the ear of Sacramento lawmakers to make it easier to prosecute irresponsible doctors. “I think there is going to have to be some kind of legislation,” Lackl said. “It’s going to be a drain on taxpayers, law enforcement and people’s lives. It’s going to affect us all for a long time, if we don’t get a handle on it.” Moore believes any change in laws like Lackl wants would be an uphill battle. “Physicians are not going to support that,” Moore said. “Historically, legislation that is directed at restricting medical practice is not a very good idea.” Right now, Jane is hoping her cooperation with police will lead to her freedom. Lackl is skeptical as he points out, even during the interview, Jane showed signs of continued drug abuse. “I like to be hopeful,” Jane said. “I know there are going to be hardships to come.”