The county is seeing a disturbing increase in prescription drug overdose deaths. A report just released shows more than two-thirds of overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs - not cocaine or heroine.
But the information found is nothing new to area pharmacists and families who've been dealing this prescription narcotic crisis for years. Only now, they say, it's starting to get much worse.
At Gardens Pharmacy, Shalish Shah goes through a check list of steps he never anticipated when he first started filling prescriptions years ago. That includes keeping all prescription narcotics under lock and key." Even security cameras around his store. "When I was working in a chain, I did not have this much of a problem."
He checks for alterations of the prescriptions, dates of the last fill, dose size, doctor's signature, he even calls the doctors each time someone wants a prescription narcotic filled. "Looks like the doctors have gotten a little bit more lenient on prescribing this stuff. And it has become more of a business rather than medical care."
Some of his customers are also forging prescriptions more often - drugs, such as: Oxycodone, Methadone and Alprazolam - more commonly called Xanax.
In the last six months, Shah says he's had 10 people arrested for false prescriptions in his store alone. The problem sounds all too familiar to Seneca Moss Reynolds. Her brother, Garrett, started stealing pills from family members as a teenager. "After that, it really was a downward spiral. He started stealing from friends, stealing from family. And then, you know, always looking for the next best high."
The family battled with Garrett's addiction for months, but, unlike many especially here in Palm Beach County, he was able to get clean.
Unfortunately, he later died in a car accident. But his sister started a foundation in his honor. She hopes it will do at least a small part to stop this alarming emergence of prescription drug addiction. "If I can help one family, one teenager, I'll feel like a success."
The name of the foundation is called S.T.O.K.E.D. It stands for Starting Teens Over Keeping Everything Drug Free.