Greater Sudbury police and community outreach workers say prescription narcotics have become the drug of choice in the city.

They say a growing number of people are getting hooked on pain pills like Oyxcontin.

"I think we are at a crisis," said Vicki Kett, who works with Reseau Access Network, an HIV and Hepatitis agency . "But it's so easy to say it's not happening to me."

According to Kett, there are a growing number of people in Sudbury who are snorting, smoking and injecting prescription pills.

"They've had a big hold on me," said Oyxcontin addict Felicity.

CBC has agreed to use only her first name.

"I started prostituting myself, everyday, all day long," the 31-year-old mother of two said.

"I would go out there in winter when there is snowstorms going to make money to buy these pills."

—Felicity, Oxycontin addict

"I would go out there in winter when there is snowstorms going to make money to buy these pills."

Greater Sudbury police Chief Frank Elsner said there's been a shift in the drug of choice, from illicit drugs like crack and cocaine, to prescription pain pills.

"There's not the same stigma with pharmaceutical drug as with cocaine," he said.

"Somehow people think, because it's a pharmaceutical drug, you can get a prescription for, it's far safer." 

Growing number of Oxy-related arrests    

But Felicity knows it's not safer.

She is now HIV positive and no longer has custody of her two children. She watched her sister die after years of drug abuse.

The experience was a turning point and she is now seeking treatment.

"I want to see my kids grow up and get married and finish school and all that," she said.

"And I know if I keep going down that path it won't happen."

She is not yet completely clean, but she said she hopes sharing her story will prevent someone else from experimenting with pills.

Sudbury has seen a jump in the number of possession and trafficking offences related to prescription narcotics such as Oxycontin.

"What we are seeing is that it is cheap for urban youth to get a hold of this [and] that anybody can get it," Elsner said.

The number of arrests involving prescription narcotics in Sudbury has tripled since 2006. The number of offences related to cocaine has dropped by a similar amount over the same time period.

Offenses related to cannabis remain the most prevalent.

Police officials say statistics on offences show basic trends. However, when enforcement efforts are focused on certain areas, it can lead to a rise in the number of arrests.