Law enforcement has uncovered a new drug threat after a shoplifting suspect led officers on a high-speed chase from Sheboygan to Milwaukee.
A common prescription is being used by addicts to get a stronger high and the results can be deadly. However, more doctors have been turning to the medication because it is an opioid alternative.
According to a criminal complaint, Nicole Rupert led authorities on a 115 mph chase on March 27 after allegedly stealing candy and lighters from a Sheboygan Walmart. Dashcam video shows the car running from deputies and crashing after the tires were blown out.
In the car, deputies found marijuana, mushrooms and "a plastic bag full of pills" that were identified as Gabapentin. Rupert is facing charges for possessing an illegal prescription among other charges.
The prescription painkiller Gabapentin is mainly used to treat shingles or seizures. But it is not an opioid.
"It does create a lot of euphoria. It can lead people to misuse it," said Dr. M. Riccardo Colella, the medical director of Emergency Medical Services for Milwaukee County.
Colella said abusers are combining it with other drugs to get a more intense high.
"Substances like alcohol and illicit drugs, whenever you have those together you often intensify the side effects of those. Which can be dangerous or deadly," said Colella.
In Kentucky, the drug was linked to a third of the state's overdoses in 2016. It's the first state to classify Gabapentin as a controlled substance.
Here in Wisconsin, all you need is a prescription. There is no extra monitoring.
"The misuse and abuse of Gabapentin is happening here. So Milwaukee is no different," said Colella.