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PROFILES OF PRESCRIPTION ABUSE

Susan Chiccino - 46, Clearwater

On an April night in 2005, Susan Chiccino painted her face with black paint, donned a black T-shirt and pulled on black pants.

She steered her husband's dark green 1995 Chevy Suburban to Bi-Wise Drugs on State Road 580 in Safety Harbor. It was 2 a.m. and the store was closed. Chiccino plowed the Suburban through the front door and filled a garbage pail with prescription pill bottles.

An alarm summoned sheriff's deputies to the store. A police dog found her hiding behind a cardboard display stand.

Tucked in her shirt were needles, syringes and three 1,000-pill bottles of the anti-anxiety drug Diazepam.

Chiccino was arrested on a burglary charge and sent to an intervention program that spared her jail time.

Less than a year later, Chiccino's husband found her dead in the bedroom of their Clearwater home.

Empty pill bottles were scattered throughout the room and home. Syringes, a spoon, two cans of butane and a lighter were on the bed. Susan had puncture wounds on her arms and feet.

Blood tests showed cocaine and the painkillers oxycodone and morphine killed her. A muscle-relaxant drug also was in her system.

Her husband, Ricci Chiccino, said Susan suffered from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal cord that causes nerve pinching and persistent pain. Her doctor also diagnosed her with hypertension and anxiety.

Her last doctor had prescribed her six drugs to contend with those problems, but dismissed her from his practice when she tested positive for marijuana.

Ricci Chiccino, whose Suburban still has the scratches from his wife's pharmacy break-in, said he also is disabled from a fall and takes pain medications, which he had to hide from Susan.

He said Susan, who had worked as a nurse, had trouble getting the drugs she needed because doctors were afraid to increase her doses.

"She was doing too much on her own," he said.

Chris Tisch

Kevin and Anna Rose Greene 25 and 21, Spring Hill

Bernadette and Howard Wagar keep a photograph in their home.

It is a portrait taken at a Super Wal-Mart of their daughter, Anna Rose Greene and her husband, Kevin Michael Greene Jr.

In March 2005, Kevin died in his bed of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Nearly 10 months later, prescription drugs also killed Anna Rose.

Bernadette Wagar and her husband, who is retired from a cannon manufacturing facility, spent much of their lives in upstate New York.

That's where they adopted Anna Rose.

In January 1991, the family moved to Hernando County to care for Mrs. Wagar's mother.

Anna Rose was diagnosed as manic-depressive in her early teens. She struggled in school, dropped out and tried to finish her degree at home. She found work at fast-food restaurants and a call center.

She had experimented with illegal drugs. She spent time in a mental health center in 2001, but she never received treatment for drug abuse.

She met Kevin through a mutual friend in June 2003. They dated for a year, then married. The couple lived with the Wagars.

Kevin got a job as an apprentice electrician. One day at work, he climbed a ladder in a grocery store and suffered an electric shock to his head from wires. The jolt knocked him to the ground, causing severe back pain.

His mother, Karen LaCortiglia, 59, says a doctor prescribed him painkillers.

On March 5, 2005, Anna Rose and Kevin got into a car accident. Kevin hit his head on the windshield.

Kevin refused treatment at the hospital, went home and went to bed. His wife found him dead the next morning.

He died of an overdose of a muscle relaxant and two painkillers. He was 25.

Kevin's death crushed Anna Rose, who also was taking methadone for her own pain problems. She became depressed and shed about 20 pounds.

On Dec. 29, her father awoke to take Anna Rose's boys, now 3 and 7, to day care.

He found Anna Rose dead in bed. She died of an accidental overdose of a painkiller, anti-depressant and attention-deficit order drug. She was 21.

"She died in the same bed,'' Howard Wagar said, "in the same way as Kevin died."

Abbie VanSickle

Tiffany Russell - 35, Tampa

Tiffany Russell attended Hillsborough Community College and worked as a paramedic. But all that death and pain got to her.

"The stress of the job, the suicide rate is terrible with paramedics, firemen, policemen," said her mother, Karen Horn. "She would come home, she might not talk for two days. She had to resuscitate a baby or a baby died in her arms or an old man died."

A few years ago, she hurt her back at work. A doctor prescribed OxyContin for the pain, Horn said. Russell started taking too much.

"She was pretty close-mouthed about it," Horn said. "She did a lot of awful things. She got arrested."

In July 2003, she was charged with prescription fraud. She went to a rehabilitation program for help. Russell got clean, moved in with her boyfriend and got engaged.

But she still had pain. She kept getting prescription pills, Horn said.

On March 26, 2006, Russell's fiance found her slumped over in bed at the couple's South Tampa home. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Several nearly empty pill bottles were found at the scene.

The medical examiner ruled her death an accidental overdose caused by a cocktail of four drugs: methadone, Xanax, and painkillers Tramadol and Propoxyphene.

Russell didn't have an upbringing that would point to such an end.

She grew up in a large and supportive family. She lived in a nice home on 5 acres and had a dad who did well in business.

"She had well-rounded growing-up years," said her mother, Karen Horn. "We did vacations and fishing and camping and all that kind of stuff."

Horn still struggles with her daughter's death.

"Every day I think about her," Horn said. "She was everything and she was such a good person."

Abbie VanSickle

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