SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The number of deaths in which prescription drugs played a role increased from 2007 to 2011 in San Diego County, as did the number of pharmacies robbed and the number of opiate-related emergency room visits, according to the county's inaugural Prescription Drug Abuse Report Card released Monday.
"Prescription drug abuse has become a serious problem in our county. Many young people and adults are abusing prescription drugs," County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said. "And these drugs can be found at home."
Last year, prescription drugs contributed to 267 deaths, compared to 211 in 2007, according to the report, which found that 1,164 people died due to prescription drugs during the five-year period.
Methadone, Oxycodone, Valium, Hydrocodone, Morphine and Xanax, or alprazolam, contributed to the most deaths, according to the report.
"The reality is that only a small number of people who abuse prescription drugs die. Therefore, the problem is many times greater than what we are seeing," said Dr. Jonathan Lucas, the county's chief deputy medical examiner.
Prescription drugs can be highly addictive and costly -- up to $50 for a 80mg OxyContin pill prior to 2011, which drives some to a cheaper alternative, such as heroin, which in 2011 cost $80 to $100 per gram, according to the report.
Last year, 80 heroin-related deaths were reported and 15 of those were people under 25, the report's authors found. Heroin was the most common intoxicant other than alcohol in people under 30 years of age who died last year.
"We have seen the dangerous consequences of a higher number of people switching from prescription drugs to heroin," Lucas said.
The report card showed robberies at pharmacies rose from nine to 26 over the five-year study period, a 188 percent jump. Opiate-related emergency room visits were up 64 percent and the number of juveniles and adults who reported prescription drug misuse also increased.
"The prescription drug problem isn't a onetime phenomenon, but rather a growing problem with serious repercussions to the quality of life in our region," said Nick Macchione, director of the County Health and Human Services Agency.
Nearly 29,000 pounds of unused prescription drugs were collected in take-back events and drop boxes over the past two years. Residents were asked to report drug activity in their communities to local law enforcement or call the Prescription Drug Hotline at (877) 662-6384.
Five people were injured in a three-car crash in the Rolando area on Sunday after an apparent road-rage incident. It happened about 1:30 p.m. on University Avenue at College Avenue, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
Another successful Comic-Con is in the books. The four-day pop culture convention came to an end Sunday, but even in its final hours was packed with things to see and do.
Vince Velasquez allowed two hits over seven innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 5-0 Sunday for a doubleheader split.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for San Diego County inland valleys, mountains, and deserts. The warning is valid for Monday morning through Thursday evening
A man stole a brand-new luxury car out of a Kearny Mesa dealership's lot and led police on a lengthy chase down San Diego freeways on Sunday.
San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing and so is the superhero-themed fashion! Celebrities like Sarah Paulson, Sonequa Martin-Green and Camila Mendes, among many other stylish ladies, rocked a bevy of leather, nylon and pleather to attend the annual comic book convention.
Detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding a man who died Saturday morning on a sidewalk in Old Town.
A suspected drunk driver was shot by sheriff's deputies after leading them on a pursuit across North County freeways Friday night, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.