Prescription drug abuse plagues Northwest

      EUGENE, Ore. - Prosecutors in Seattle say 29-year-old Daniel Bischoff stole $334,000 from his 86-ytear-old grandmother to pay for his addiction to prescription painkillers.

      "These are some very potent medications," said Dr. Michael Schwartz at Serenity Lane. "They're so widely available that I think that we forget how powerful and dangerous they potentially are."

      Schwartz said he's noticed a huge increase in prescription drug abuse cases in Lane County, and he's not alone.

      According to the Centers for Disease Control, emergency visits for abuse or misuse of the meds have doubled in the last five years.

      And deaths from the meds are at an all time high.

      Schwartz said drug addiction is something that can change the way a person thinks.

      "Eventually, the brain gets hijacked by the drug," he said.

      According to Schwartz, an addiction doesn't live in the area of the brain that's the cognitive center.

      Instead, Schwartz said it lives in the emotional area of the brain.

      "So when we have that pleasure pathway, it kind of short-circuits things. And it's in that area of the brain that just totally bypasses cognition. People just aren't thinking, that's the problem," he said.