According to Department of Health prescription data, doctors wrote one prescription for the painkiller oxycodone for every four or five Staten Islanders last year. Many of the 115,000 prescriptions are refills, but they make Richmond county the second highest for painkiller prescriptions in the state. Luke Nasta, the executive director of Camelot Counseling Services, told the Staten Island Advance, "It's startling. Even to me, the number's startling. I think the vast majority of that is being used for recreational use and to feed addictions."

When factoring in prescriptions for other drugs, about one in three of the prescriptions written for the borough last year were for painkillers. And multiple pharmacy robberies and scams have shown that people are getting the drugs without a doctor's orders. Michael Zampella, a clinical social worker, said, "We're a vulnerable community with a propensity to addiction...Adolescents connect with other adolescents through the substance abuse culture."

Doctors are on alert, and have begun screening new patients before writing prescriptions. One doctor said he gets about 10 illegitimate requests for every patient who really needs the drug. But Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, says, "What everyone in our research tells us is, 'If I need them, I know where to find them. It's in society. It's not on the edge of society. It's not, you've got to go on the bad neighborhood on the wrong side of the tracks to find the dealer." Staten Island has about 23.3 prescriptions of oxycodone per 100 people, the most out of all the boroughs. But Manhattanites will at least sleep easy with the news—they lead the city in prescriptions for zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien.