Prescription drug abuse is America’s fastest-growing drug problem with 1.3 million emergency room visits in 2010 associated with painkillers alone. Among these prescription painkillers is the popular Oxycontin. The manufacturers of this drug recently reformulated the it into a crush-resistant pill, which makes it hard for drug abusers to crush or dissolve the pill in order to snort or inject it. Although some addicts could continue to abuse the drug by taking larger amounts, some desired the high obtained through injection. When attempting to pulverize the pills with a hammer or soaking them in acid proved to be an arduous task, addicts began searching for a replacement, which they found with a similar drug called Opana.
Opana is an extended-release painkiller that contains oxymorphone. The use of this drug has escalated tremendously and even with a similar crush-proof pill approved in late 2011, there are still a great amount of crushable Opana pills still on the market today. The recent June 2 incident, in which a masked man entered a pharmacy and demanded Opana, has brought attention to this epidemic, being the 11th pharmacy robbery in Fort Wayne this year. The rise in Opana abuse shows how adaptable drug addicts can be, which poses an ongoing problem for law enforcement authorities as well as addiction specialists and pharmaceutical companies.
Many expect that when the new crush-proof Opana takes over, heroine will take its place among addicts.
Abuse Of The Drug Is Widespread
The abuse of Opana is evident all over America. In 2011, when the New York City suburb of Nassau County began to see the jump in its use they issued a health alert to the community. In the same county, Medicaid data revealed that prescriptions for extended-release Opana had increased by 45 percent within only six months. In Ohio authorities noticed the surge in Opana as a substitute for Oxycontin. Even the street prices proved the obvious take-over of Opana: 40 mg tablets of the drug sell for $60 to $70 each, as opposed to $20 to $30 for the new formulation of Oxycontin.
There have been 11 pharmacy robberies this year in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In nearly every robbery the assailant demanded Opana. In Kentucky, toxicology tests showed that oxymorphone, the chief ingredient in Opana, was present in the blood of 23 percent of overdose victims in 2011 as opposed to 2 percent in 2010. In Scott County, Indiana 19 people died of overdoses last year, the majority of which were on Opana used in combination with other drugs and alcohol.
So far this year, 13 people have died from drug overdoses in the same county and number of coroners cases has gone from an average of 28 a year to 39 in the first six months of 2012. Another shocking find is that some people purchased the drugs from elderly people with valid prescriptions who sold the drugs to supplement their Social Security income. Others received the drugs from drug dealers who obtained them from out-of-state “pill mills”.
How To Know When Someone Is Abusing Opana
Like Oxycontin, Opana has some specific signs when one is under the influence of the drug or addicted to it. They include:
• Small (constricted) pupils.
• Acting lethargic and not wanting to do anything for hours at a time.
• Nodding out (intermitted periods of wakefulness and sleepiness).
• Itching the skin.
• Problems with finances like constant loss of money or inability to keep money or keep a job.
• Legal problem like driving under the influence (DUI), possession of drug etc.
• Doctor shopping (obtaining prescriptions illegally through doctors by faking illnesses and injuries).
Opana abuse is a growing problem. For more information log onto stopaddiction.com.