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.
A San Diego-based Marine Corps drill instructor who died in a motorcycle accident four weeks ago was honored by the military Wednesday for rescuing two women from a fiery freeway crash two months before his death.
A masked thief fired a handgun while robbing a sandwich shop Wednesday in the Mountain View area of southeastern San Diego, but no one was injured, police said.
When children get really sick, they need a doctor – and sometimes a dragonfly. In Wednesday’s Zevely Zone, Jeff is at Rady Children’s Hospital to meet a young author.
San Diego State University’s star basketball player, Jalen McDaniels has been accused in a Washington state civil lawsuit of recording sexual acts with a female high school classmate in 2016 and sharing the video with friends on social media.
A local woman is hoping to bring the spirit of Christmas to those in need this year. Starting Wednesday, for 24 hours, Salvation Army Captain Emily Jones plans to ring the bell for Red Kettle donations non-stop to raise money for families.
The recent fall storms that soaked San Diego set rainfall records across the county – putting a dent in the drought and making a difference at local lakes.
It's a competition that proves you can overcome just about anything. Surfers are competing in the Stance International Surfing Association World Adaptive Surfing Championship this week at La Jolla Shores.
The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce canceled a hearing on minimum wage hikes Wednesday in light of a report about homophobic and sexist blog posts by one of the scheduled witnesses -- a San Diego State University professor.
A state board is expected to vote Wednesday on a contentious proposal to boost water flows through a Central California river, a move that would increase habitat for salmon but deliver less water to farmers and cities such as San Francisco.
The private shipyards in San Diego responsible for protecting Navy warships have not been following security protocols meant to protect those billion-dollar assets, and the Navy was alerted to the lapses more than two years ago, an inewsource investigation has found.