NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The use of prescription drugs plays a big role in accidental deaths in the state, but that hasn't stopped their popularity on the streets. In the New Year, the state has plans to make it more difficult for people to misuse drugs intended to help.
From undercover drug busts to home invasions, the illegal sale and misuse of prescription drugs has been keeping police across the state busy.
"I think the public would be totally shocked to know the amount of pills sold on a daily basis, I really do," said Officer Mike Dunn, with the Office of the Inspector General.
"Prescription pills are really the drug of the future. It's getting harder to get meth, it's getting harder to get cocaine," said Yogi Yother, detective with Manchester Police.
Drug overdose is the largest single cause of accidental deaths in Tennessee-- many of those people are abusing prescription pills. As procuring prescription pills becomes more difficult many people have turned to crime to get their fix.
Springfield Police said on Christmas Day a man spent three minutes inside the Springfield Drugs in Robertson County and stole more than $600 worth of Percocet, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.
"Addiction is a chronic, progressive relapse disease and regardless of what you do; whether it is legal or illegal, the physical addiction will drive people to do whatever they need to do to get drugs," said Dr. Tommy Malone
Malone is the owner of Green Hills Pharmacy and said in 35 years his business has been broken into at least ten times along with three armed robberies, all for prescription drugs. "In some people's minds it's safer, but nothing could be further from the truth," he explained.
Starting January 1, 2013, pharmacists and doctors will have to run every name through a new database before providing prescription drugs to any patient. Dr. Malone believes this is a great way to try to cut down on the illegal misuse of the drugs, but he also has worries.
"My fear is the pharmacies will be broken into more, simply because people need the drug," said Malone.
Police said these prescription drugs are often stolen, but many times the drugs are sold by people who received them legally with TennCare funds, which comes from resident's tax dollars.