When someone is on a long-term pain medication, Hoehns said that basically creates a contract. That person agrees to get the medicine from one physician and one pharmacy. He or she also is willing to submit to drug tests and pill counts.
The tests are helpful because they can show what is in one's system. They not only expose what else the patient is on, but if the drug prescribed does not appear in the test results, it shows that the pills are not being taken and, possibly, sold.
"You want to help people," Hoehns said.
Hoehns said that doctors operated with a level of trust, and initially believe that everyone who comes to them, complaining of pain, is actually in pain. Doctors do realize that for every person who is legitimately suffering, there are others who are looking for a fix. If a patient refuses an alternative pain killer, such as shot, or asks for a medication specifically by name, that can tip the physician off as to what the patient's motives are.
Knoxville is seeing more prescription drug abuse. Pleasantville did not see an increase in 2013. Losada said that the number of cases has steadily increased over 10 years.
"When I started it was individuals getting multiple prescriptions and abusing them where now we see more people who never had a prescription," Losada said. "Pain killers are very common but so are anti-anxiety meds. Some people will take almost anything to see what happens."
Losada went on to say that the KPD frequently receives reports of stolen medication. It could have happened during a burglary or a family member or house guest may find meds in a home and take a portion of them hoping the owner will not realize they are missing right away.