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Medical News & Perspectives
March 1, 2000

Abuse of Prescription Drugs: Is a Patient Ailing or Addicted?

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JAMA. 2000;283(9):1126-1129. doi:10.1001/jama.283.9.1126-JMN0301-2-1

San Diego police detectives were tipped off that a felony was taking place at a neighborhood pharmacy. With a quick response, they managed to catch the perpetrator—a middle-class woman with no prior arrests.

These detectives work narcotics, and they're arresting felons committing prescription fraud. Those arrested, around 75 people a year in San Diego, usually are seeking hydrocodones, such as Vicodin, or other painkillers for personal use. The typical abuser is a middle-class woman—not the stereotypical lower-class junkie. And the addiction usually starts following a visit to her physician's office, where she gets her first prescription for pain relief medication, the police said.

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