enice, Florida —- The battle against drug addiction is one that Norman Shewman has waged for 41 years.
Since Vietnam, the 57-year-old's addictions have centered on heroin and alcohol, but for the past seven years he's been clean. Now he's helping save the lives of others as the CEO of Home Detox, the only home detox center in the state. Unfortunately, with the boom in pharmacies in recent years, business is too good. Shewman saw 125 patients in 2007. He also began to see a trend.
“I've had patients tell me that they go to older people for the drugs,” says Shewman.
By older, he means seniors. More and more are pushing what they have access to in order to just get by.
“If you're only making $600-$700 a month and that is your social security, well, they find out they can sell their pills for $50 a piece. All of a sudden $50 times 30, what is that? $1500,” says Shewman.
Some Bay area residents that we spoke with have heard of seniors cashing in. For them, the concept is almost too difficult to fathom even in these economic times.
“It's sad that for such a great nation we have to get to the point where elderly have to be selling their drugs to provide for themselves,” says Tonya Van Fossen of Bradenton.
Another bitter pill of reality that makes it difficult for many to swallow is the fact that the Bay area has seen a rash of robberies at pharmacies in recent weeks.
“I'd be a little nervous about being a pharmacist because these kids are coming in fully armed and holding up the pharmacist,” says Mike Dyer, a retiree from New York.
If the economy continues to turn south, the potential for more drug-related crimes is expected to intensify.