The New York Times says the contents of medicine cabinets are driving a nationwide crime trend. Opiate painkillers and other prescription drugs, officials say, are driving addiction and crime like never before, with addicts singling out the homes of sick or elderly people and posing as potential buyers at open houses just to raid the medicine cabinets. The crimes, and the severity of the nation's drug abuse problem, have so vexed the authorities that they are calling on citizens to surrender old bottles of potent pills like Vicodin, Percocet and Xanax.
On Saturday, the police will set up drop-off stations at a Wal-Mart in Pearland, Tex., a zoo in Wichita, Kan., a sports complex in Peoria, Ariz., and more than 4,000 other locations to oversee a prescription drug buy-back program. Coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, it will be the first such effort with national scope. Data suggests the country's prescription drug problem is vast and growing. In 17 states, deaths from drugs – both prescription and illegal – now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, with opiate painkillers playing a leading role. The number of people seeking treatment for painkiller addiction jumped 400 percent from 1998 to 2008.