OLYMPIA, Wash. — Black Hills High School graduate Samantha Studebaker, 22, became addicted to OxyContin two years ago, after a co-worker's offer of a quick — and free — fix for her headache while she worked a shift at the Tumwater Costco.
Soon, Studebaker says, she was paying up to $40 or $80 a pill — $1 a milligram — to that same co-worker to feed her addiction to the painkiller. At first, Studebaker used her credit cards to pay for the pills.
Then she began stealing.
In September, Studebaker was caught after embezzling more than $32,000 from Costco over about five months to pay for the OxyContin pills that her co-worker sold at increasingly higher prices. Studebaker, who worked in Costco's returns department, said she entered fraudulent returns for items, then pocketed the cash.
Studebaker's story is part of a nationwide epidemic of prescription-drug abuse. In the late 1990s, OxyContin abuse ravaged communities in the East, particularly in New England and parts of the South, where it earned the name "hillbilly heroin." It remains an epidemic drug problem, highlighted most recently by the arrest in Alaska of the mother of Gov. Sarah Palin's future son-in-law.
In the Northwest, OxyContin addiction fuels both property crime and violent crime. In 2008, the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force seized about 700 OxyContin tablets that had been diverted for illegal use, said task force commander Lt. Loreli Thompson.
Read the full story at theolympian.com