An epidemic hits central Nebraska, as a man robs a Grand Island pharmacy to get a quick fix.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy calls prescription drug abuse the nation's fastest growing drug problem, one that is even hitting central Nebraska.
"Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, unfortunately," said Connie Holmes, executive director of the Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions.
Use of drugs like cocaine has dropped in recent years. But national studies find more people are abusing the drugs we think of as being the good ones.
They're using them, even if it means committing robbery, which is what happened in Grand Island this weekend when a man demanded pills from a pharmacy.
Officer Butch Hurst said the man walked in and handed the pharmacist a note, "which they complied with the request and narcotics were given to this gentleman who then departed the store in a short period of time."
It happened at the Walgreens on Second Street in Grand Island, around 10:15 Sunday morning.
The suspect, described only as a white man with brown hair received various dosages of Oxycodone -- 294 pills to be exact.
The CDC calls prescription abuse an epidemic. Local experts say there's a reason people turn to prescriptions to self-medicate.
Connie Holmes said, "They're easily accessible and they don't cost a lot necessarily and if you're taking them from places, they don't cost you anything."
The staff at the Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addiction monitors trends. This week they're hosting a conference to talk specifically about marijuana, bath salts, and K2 Spice, which are also problems here.
"Maybe not to the extent they've seen on the east or west coast or in bigger cities but none the less it all comes down to us and we need to be prepared and educated," Holmes said.
Often drugs are mixed with each other, or alcohol, which remains the most abused.
While groups like CNCAA try to prevent abuse, they also celebrate recovery.
Holmes said, "It's a miracle and a second chance at life and we are so happy and excited for those people who find recovery and we want to give hope to those people, family members, individuals who might still be struggling with addiction. We want to give them hope and encouragement."
Friday night they'll celebrate with the Tree of Hope, a soup supper fundraiser. The event starts at 6:00 on Friday, November 30 at St. Mary's Cathedral Square in Grand Island. Father Jim Schmitt will be the guest speaker. Proceeds benefit CNCAA.
That follows a training session about current drug trends. Former Omaha police officer Chuck Matson will talk about K2-Spice and Bath Salts. Cost is $69 for continuing education credits or $29 to attend not for credit. For more, visit http://www.cncaa.net/chuck_matson.html.