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Former nurse in Wisconsin faces prescription drug crime charges

Prescription drug abuse is fast becoming the focus of America's war on drugs. While painkillers and other potent medications are certainly legal (unlike marijuana and other "street drugs"), the use and possession of these prescription drugs is highly regulated.

Because of increasing prescription drug abuse, more individuals in Wisconsin and elsewhere are facing charges for prescription drug crimes than ever before. Law enforcement is often especially tough on doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who have easy access to these drugs.

Earlier this month, a 21-year-old woman from Hartland made an appearance in Waukesha County Circuit Court to face charges of felony theft. The former nurse is accused of stealing approximately $24,000 worth of the painkiller Demerol while working for a hospital in Menomonee Falls.

The alleged thefts occurred between June and December of last year. According to the criminal complaint, a co-worker reported the defendant to hospital management after witnessing her stealing Demerol in December 2011. When the woman's locker was searched, management discovered empty vials and used needles.

The defendant reportedly told police that she first started using Demerol left over from patient injections as a way to cope with problems and stresses in her personal life. She said she then became addicted and began to steal vials on a regular basis.

In all, prosecutors suspect that she stole approximately 550 vials of Demerol over a seven-month period.

The use of prescription drugs may be legal, but only under specific and controlled circumstances. And like certain street drugs, addiction to prescription painkillers can sometimes cause otherwise law-abiding people to engage in criminal drug-seeking behavior. If convicted, the young woman could face serious consequences.

Source: Living Lake Country, "Nurse charged with stealing drugs," Jim Stevens, Jan. 18, 2012

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