Posted: Sep 11, 2012 6:23 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
Updated: Sep 12, 2012 7:33 AM
Police say a string of assaults in Grover Beach may be the result of an even larger problem throughout San Luis Obispo County.
In one of the Grover Beach cases, police say a man broke into an elderly man's home, attacked him, and demanded his prescription medication.
According to San Luis Obispo County Public Health, it's the fastest-growing drug problem in the nation, and California is at the top of that list.
In fact, in San Luis Obispo County, prescription drug use has sky-rocketed to almost double the state average.
Last week's incident in Grover Beach is an example of a growing dependence on easy-to-find drugs.
So easy in fact, most of us have them sitting in the open in our own homes.
That's because these drugs aren't illegal.
"I'm a complete different person than I was," says Danielle Tish, a recovering addict. "I go to treatment four days a week, I participate in twelve step meetings."
Danielle Tish's first run-in with prescription drugs came when she was only nineteen.
"I had some medical issues and I was prescribed Vicodin," says Tish. "I started taking them and I liked the way they made me feel."
But like many others things, it quickly spun out of control. She lost everything, even her three daughters.
"When I didn't have money to get them, I would steal, I would pretty much do anything to get what I needed," says Tish.
Kimberly Mott of San Luis Obispo Prevention and Outreach says Danielle's situation is all too common.
"Prescription drug mis-use and abuse has been growing astronomically," says Mott. "It's safe to say there is a huge problem."
According to county health data, prescription drug abuse in SLO County has grown from 3.3 percent in 2007 to 14.8 percent in 2011.
"Prescription pills are easy to get, they're in everyone's medicine cabinets, they're easy to get prescribed," says Mott.
Out of 44 accidental drug overdose deaths in San Luis Obispo County last year, 27 were attributed to pain killers.
"We also can't discount the fact they're not just taking prescription pills, they're also using them with other substances," says Mott. "Then we're looking at some real harm, criminal activity goes up, hospitalizations go up, physical injuries and of course overdose and death."
Now 406 days sober, Tish has gotten more than just her sobriety back, after two years, her three children have returned home.
"Aside from when I had my kids, it was the best thing I ever felt," says Tish.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 people die every day from drug overdoses, and shockingly, three out of every four of those involve prescription medications.
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