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"We've noticed a trend over the years," Umlauf said. "What was an East Coast problem is moving this way. We've had overdoses and overdose deaths here in Alexandria."

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Prescription painkillers in particular are a gateway drug to heroin, Umlauf said.

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"We have a big problem that we see on the horizon and we need to get [information] out there as quickly as possible," Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson told the Echo Press on Nike Purple Sweatshirt

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Larson added, "It needs to be taken seriously and that's my biggest concern."

A prescription for trouble

On the prosecution side, Larson reported that from 2011 to 2012, felony level sale or possession of prescription drug charges have increased from 12 to 36.

are handing over as much as $5 per pill for Vicodin, and about $40 per Oxycodone pill. A hit of heroin can go for $20 to $30.

Tuesday. "We can't ignore it."

Larson said when he started prosecuting, it was rare to have a prescription drug sales case, but now they're routine.

Prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin and others are in people's homes a place that allows addicts easy access to the opiates.

Locally, people have been caught shooting up heroin behind the steeringwheel in a vehicle and passing out in parking lots or overdosing in retail store restrooms.

Douglas County Hospital Emergency Room Doctor Dave Odland said he has noted an increase in cases of prescription drug abuse.

"It's a public safety concern," Umlauf said.

LOCAL IMPACT

Larson said, "We don't want to say that these prescriptions are all bad. But, if they're not used as they were intended to be, and it's not under the supervision of a physician, then we've got problems.

"Heroin is here and the addicts that are using it started with prescription drugs and that's what we're seeing here," said Scot Umlauf, commander of the West Central Narcotics Task Force and Douglas County Sheriff's Office deputy.

"I don't think many people realize giving a controlled substance prescription to someone else is a crime. It's considered a [drug] sale in Minnesota. Even giving it away for no compensation is a felony," Larson said.

More teens are reportedly abusing prescription drugs because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a Nike Hoodie For Women medically safe high, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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"Opiates will cause dependency," Umlauf said. "There's no stopping it. increased from 75 million to 209 million.

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"People don't equate [opiates] with street drugs or the problems that come along with street drugs," Larson said. "More and more people are becoming addicted to opiates and it's easier to get on the streets once their supply is cut with the prescriptions."

Larson offers this advice to parents and grandparents: "Keep [your prescription drugs] locked up and away from teens because that's what kids are using now. Second only to marijuana, they're using their parents' prescription meds."

That can range from people locking up prescription drugs at home to stopping cases of overprescribing.

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Umlauf said, "Limiting availability will help limit the use."

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In Douglas County over the last three years, there have been at least six drug related overdose deaths and at least four people who survived an overdose, according to Umlauf.

Locally, there's an increase in heroin use.

Larson said, "That answers part of the question as to why, since 2000, there are four times as many people checking themselves into treatment centers for heroin and prescription opiate addiction."

"Painkillers are opiates, or opiate based, the same thing as heroin. The reason for the change from prescription drugs to heroin is that the heroin is cheaper than the prescriptions. It's not as available at this point, but it is cheaper," he said.

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