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Published December 01, 2011, 08:27 PM

Local Police Seeing Increase in Prescription Drug Abuse

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Local police are seeing an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, but they are prepared.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Local police are seeing an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, but they are prepared.

Officers are trained to tell if drivers are on prescription or illegal drugs. If they are, there can be some hefty charges.

It's a problem that seems to be growing=: people abusing prescription drugs and then getting behind the wheel.

Police deal with drug abuse on a daily basis.

"Just last week, we had a mother giving her daughter her pain medicine because she had a bad headache. Well, that doctor prescribed it to mom for a reason and that's a pretty serious crime," East Grand Forks police officer Aeisso Schrage said.

And the problem is growing.

"It's far more prevalent than people are aware of perhaps, and we do see a lot of cases involving abuse of prescription medication," GFPD Lt. Grant Schiller said.

Both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks police departments have drug recognition experts:

"We've got DR experts, trained for several weeks on being able to tell by looking into your eyes if you are on a prescription drug," Schrage said.

"It goes beyond just mere under the influence of alcohol. They can now detect for a prescribed medication," Schiller said.

In Minnesota, illegal possession of a single, highly-addictive pill is a felony and you go directly to jail. In North Dakota, you can serve up to five years.

If you have prescription drugs you're not going to use, police departments will take them off your hands to keep them off the streets.

We encourage them not to flush them down the toilet or throw them away. Bring them down to the PD. We have a drop off box that's secure. It's collected and disposed of properly," Schiller said.

East Grand Forks collects and disposes of pills several times a year. On the Grand Forks side, you can dispose of your old medications year-round.

Both states have prescription drug monitoring programs for pharmacies keeping track of all patients with controlled substance prescriptions.

Pharmacists at Altru say rehab doctors have patients sign a contract so they can only get prescriptions from them.