Oxycodone: Widely Prescribed and Widely Abused
Physicians agree that oxycodone stands-out as by far the most effective pain reliever they can offer their patients. They also agree, however, that “oxy” is by far the most deceptive and dangerous drug in the medicine cabinet. Law enforcement officials generally agree with physicians, adding that the potent prescription medication has become the single biggest contributor to spikes in drug and drug-related crimes in northern Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario.
Therefore, Crime Stoppers in Northwestern Ontario has launched an aggressive campaign to increase citizens’ awareness of oxycodone risks, reduce the percentage of innocent users who become dependent on the drug, promote addicts’ willingness to seek treatment, and enlist the community’s support for law enforcement agencies’ efforts to reduce oxy related fraud, theft, and distribution and trafficking in this and other illicit drugs.
Oxycodone fast facts
Major American pharmaceutical companies developed oxycodone with the intent to reduce patients’ risk of addiction to painkillers.
Behaviorists and biochemists thought timed-release capsules would eliminate “the rush” commonly associated with morphine, and they surmised carefully regulated doses of the potent medication would slow patients’ development of tolerance for the drugs. In the real world, because oxycodone comes in tablet form, it carries fewer health threats as those associated with intravenous use, and it seems perfectly “respectable” to ‘pop’ a pill in modern society. Thus, oxy quickly became “the middle class drug-of-choice,” and users tend to minimize the risk of dependency, rationalizing, “If oxy weren’t okay, my doctor would not give it to me.”
Unlike other drug addicts, oxycodone dependents do not live on society’s fringes; instead, they include people from all walks of Canadian and American society and from all cultural and ethnic groups.
In fact, young professionals and respectable housewives are more likely to become oxy-addicts than other segments of society because they have unrestricted access to their nations’ best healthcare.
A very reliable Canadian study revealed that well over 80 percent of oxycodone addicts had started using the drug under their doctors’ care, and well over half had sustained their habits by “borrowing” pills from their friends and family. In the early stages of their addictions, abusers simply take more than their prescribed doses and continue refilling their prescriptions more often and longer than their doctors initially recommend. As dependency progresses, many new addicts begin crushing and snorting or smoking their tablets. Heavy users ultimately resort to dissolving their tablets and injecting the drug. One user’s confession represents the prevailing view among addicts: “The high you get from oxy is the greatest high in the world, greater than coke, and all that. It is indescribable. Once you take it, you’re loose and free–kinda like being drunk, but you won’t get sick and you don’t feel bad in the morning you can party like a rockstar all night long without getting tired.” (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=oxycontin)
Watchdog groups estimate approximately 1.5 million Americans and nearly million Canadians currently abuse opiates such as oxycodone.
In both countries, heroin and morphine users account for less than ten percent of those numbers; therefore, over 90 percent of addicts and abusers depend on oxycodone or its opiate relatives. In Oregon, researchers found that 6.7 percent of the population over 12 years old had abused prescription painkillers in the last year. The American national average hovers just about 5 percent. Most alarmingly, the rate of oxycodone addiction has increased more than 300 percent in the last ten years, and the rate of oxy related emergency room visits has risen more than 500 percent. Among Sioux, Ojibwa, Cree, Oneida, Mohawks, and Native American populations and First Nations People in Minnesota and Northwest Ontario, oxycodone abuse has replaced alcoholism as the First Nations’ No. 1 substance abuse problem. This strong favoritism remains constant regardless of which side of the Canadian/American border is polled.
Sociologists and law enforcement officials link crime-rate increases with the dramatic rise in opiate abuse. Although Ontario had Canada’s lowest crime rates and the lowest “Crime Severity Index,” nevertheless, property crimes, fraud, impaired driving and drug offenses showed significant increases.
Oxy addicts pay between $20 and $50 for just one 40mg pill or somewhere between $35 and $100 for an 80mg pill; and an average user will use between 80 and 320 mg per day. Serious addicts routinely are paying up to $300 a day to support their habits. Therefore, cheque fraud, credit card theft and identity theft have increased dramatically in areas where oxycodone addiction has spiked.
Forgery, burglary and robbery also have spiked in those areas. Some observers also link spikes in prostitution arrests with oxycodone abuse. Whereas cannabis remains Ontario’s largest drug problem, oxycodone now ranks a very close second, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all arrests for distribution and trafficking.
Signs of Oxy Abuse and Addiction
The more you know about oxycodone, the more alert you may be to signs of oxy-abuse among your friends and family.
- Also marketed under the brand names and referenced via slang terms as “Oxy”, “Oxycontin,” “Oxyfast,” “OxyIR,” “Percolone,” “Roxicodone,” and “Roxicodone Intensol,” oxycodone belongs to the family of opioid pain killers that includes morphine and heroin. Substance abuse experts believe it is the most addictive member of the opioid family. Replacing the body’s own pain reducers and therefore shutting-down their production, oxycodone changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.
- Doctors prescribe oxycodone for round-the-clock long-term treatment of moderate to severe pain. As doctors become more sensitive to the drug’s risks and side effects, however, they become more reluctant to prescribe oxycodone for any but the most severe cases of chronic pain, and generally regard oxycodone as their narcotic of last resort. Oxycodone is available in both liquid and tablet form, licensed doctors and physicians may prescribe any among eight doses–10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg. 30 mg and 80 mg oxycodone tablets are most widely abused because they are most widely prescribed and therefore most readily available.
- Both the United States Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada regard oxycodone as perfectly safe for use by patients under physicians’ strict supervision. Both governments, however, restrict and vigorously monitor production and sale of the drug. In the United States, it appears on the list of Schedule II narcotics, which require secure storage, routine inventory, and distribution only by licensed registered pharmacists. Physicians must keep copies of their prescriptions and may be required to submit them for audit at any time; they also must keep careful accounts of their prescription pads.
- No other drug comes with as many government-mandated cautions and warnings as oxycodone. The summary, printed in large, very bold type reads, “Warning: Abuse potential, life-threatening respiratory depression, and accidental exposure.” Responsible doctors never prescribe oxycodone for their patients with asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders. Physicians are very strongly cautioned not to prescribe oxycodone to patients with family histories of substance abuse, mental illness, or seizure disorder. Just as importantly, patients are advised to store their oxycontin in safe places because ingestion by children often is fatal. Patients are cautioned to count their tablets and perform routine cheques of liquid measures to make certain family members are not using oxycodone without being directed to do so by a physician.
- Signs of oxy addiction develop slowly but are unmistakable: Addicts feel they must use the drug to cope with their problems, and they must use it regularly. They frequently recognize an oxy dependency but fail in attempts to stop using the drug – especially because withdrawal from oxycodone is excruciating. Addicts continue spending money on the drug even when they cannot afford it, and will do things they normally would not even consider – especially forging cheques and stealing both money and expensive jewelry. As former users transform into abusers, so do abusers transform into severely dependent, oxy addicts. Typical oxy addicts focus the majority of their attention and time on securing drugs, and worse, many routinely drive, operate heavy machinery, and care for children while under the influence of oxycodone and other narcotics.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic insist, “If you think your dependence on oxy or another drug is out of control or is causing problems, get help. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances are for a long-term recovery. Your family doctor may be a good place to start, or you may see a mental health provider such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.”
If you suspect or have information about illegal use, distribution, or sale of oxycontin or other drugs, contact your local law enforcement agency. If you wish to remain anonymous, you may securely, confidentially contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or visit http/www.tipshelp.com. Crime Stoppers assures your anonymity, and if your tip leads to a suspect’s arrest and conviction on drug or other criminal charges, you may be eligible for a cash reward up to $2000.00.