Monthly Archives: March 2010

College student decries Oxy abuse at Chico State

A Chico State University student has written a compelling editorial on the OxyContin abuse epidemic at the school after his friend died of an Oxy overdose. He notes that Oxy “was created to help patients incapacitated by pain to live somewhat normal lives, not to get people high,” but says “the latter seems to be the more common application of OxyContin.” He goes on to ask, “how can the pharmaceutical companies defend the production of OxyContin when we already have a wide selection of alternatives?…Until this dangerous status quo is realized and the reins are brought in on prescription painkillers, we’ll continue to hear stories like my friend’s.”

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Opiate addiction support group founder calls out drug forum officials

A local parent in Braintree, Mass. – an area rife with opiate abuse – has written an eye-opening and heartfelt letter to Weymouth News criticizing a forum held at Braintree High School on March 25 on teen drug abuse, where she had been asked to set up a resource table for her organization, Learn To Cope, a support group for parents and family members dealing with a loved one addicted to heroin and OxyContin. Joanne Peterson said the presenters skirted over the issue of the state’s prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic, instead focusing on under-aged drinking. Opiate overdose is now the number one cause of death in Massachusetts, she pointed out.

Read more about Braintree’s opiate issues here, and the state’s struggles here.

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Oxy pushes heroin to become top addiction in Conn.

Heroin addiction – fueled in large part by OxyContin’s popularity – is now the number one treatment in Connecticut, where fatal medication overdoses identified as the cause of death increased more than 3,000 percent from 1995 to 2004, according to this article in the Cheshire Herald.

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Black-tar heroin steps in for Oxy: LA Times

The Los Angeles Times has a phenomenal three-part series called “Heroin Road” that investigates how sugar-cane farm workers, illegal immigrants from Xalisco, Mexico, have spread black-tar heroin to some 14 states across the U.S. It also explores the rise black-tar heroin use in communities where prescription pain pill abuse is high. The first installment reports that dealers have been especially successful in parts of Appalachia and the Rust Belt with high rates of addiction to OxyContin, because they market their heroin as a cheap, potent alternative. In areas where this form of heroin – called black-tar because it’s sticky and dark – has become more popular, deaths from heroin overdoses have also increased, the article says.

The second installment notes that OxyContin pills cost $80 apiece and addicts often need five or six a day, while black-tar heroin is stronger and costs less than $50 for a day’s fix.

The third installment details how the black-tar heroin trade has pulled poor Mexican drug dealers out of poverty, even as it has ruined lives in the U.S. “By addicting the children of others, they could support their own,” the article says of the dealers.

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Heroin, OxyContin follow vicious cycle in rural areas

The Senate Judiciary Committee traveled to Barre, Vt. on March 22 to hear testimony regarding drug-related crime in rural America. The hearing was sparked in part by the alarming rise in overdose deaths in rural communities that are largely attributed to the rise in misuse of prescription painkillers like OxyContin. In fact, the rate of rural overdose deaths is rapidly outpacing the rate increases in urban and suburban communities. Vermont, Maine and West Virginia all experienced significant increases in overdose death rates between 1999 and 2004: 164 percent, 210 percent and 550 percent respectively, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Col. Thomas L’Esperance, director of the Vermont State Police, testified that OxyContin has replaced heroin as the opiate of choice in his state, and that the medication has now become as widespread and available as heroin or crack cocaine. With the increase in demand for narcotics like Oxy, the state is now seeing a spike in the number of heroin cases – a 115% increase in the past 16 months. This can be attributed in part to the increase in Oxy addiction in the state and the fact that comparatively, the street value of a bag of heroin is generally less than half the value of one 80mg Oxy pill, he said.

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Study reveals Utah as opioid overdose hotspot

A new study has discovered that Utah has one of the nation’s highest overdose death rates, with oxycodone identified as one of the most common drugs listed by medical examiners as contributing to the cause of such deaths, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Researchers interviewed the families of those who had accidentally died of a prescription opiate overdose over one year, beginning in October 2008, and found that abuse and misuse accounted for about three-quarters of the deaths, the paper said.

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Ohio’s Oxy addicts mostly white men: study

White men have the highest death rates from unintentional opioid poisoning, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The Dayton Daily News reports that Montgomery County, Ohio has the highest rate of accidental prescription drug overdose deaths in the state, which itself has a death rate higher than the national average.

Read Watchdog’s prior coverage of Ohio’s Oxy problem here, here, and here.

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Manitoba sees spike in Oxy abuse

The OxyContin addiction problem has become so widespread in Canada’s Manitoba province that treatment programs are being overrun with patients seeking treatment, the Winnipeg Sun reports. Eighty percent of 140 people on the waiting list of one treatment center’s methadone intervention and needle exchange program, which treats opiate addicts, are hooked on Oxy, the paper reports. Many of the addicts are described as young people who come from intact families in the suburbs, the paper says.

More coverage of Canada’s growing Oxy problem can be found here.

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