Tag Archives: withdraw

The Oxy King of Marin County: Profile of a Prolific Dealer

In California, prescription drug addiction is especially rampant among teens and young adults in middle- and upper-class areas like Marin County. In the latest issue of SF Weekly, Oxy Watchdog founder Erin Marie Daly profiles one major OxyContin dealer who is now behind bars but claims he did nothing wrong.

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Oxy robberies turning Del. pharmacies into ‘war zones’

There have been 99 robberies or attempted robberies of drugstores or their customers in Delaware since January 2009 by painkiller addicts, causing pharmacists in the state to question the safety of their profession, according to this article. The 23-year-old addict profiled in the story, Phil Maconi, is now serving a four-year sentence after pleading guilty to two such robberies, which he says he committed in a desperate attempt to ward off withdrawal symptoms. And the pharmacists involved in the heists say they now fear for their safety, the article says.

In a separate article, Maconi says many of the state’s pain management doctors are willing to prescribe vast amounts of powerful narcotics to anyone who walks in their door, with devastating consequences: prescription drug abuse in Delaware has killed someone, on average, every other day over the last two years, that article says. (For the perspective of physicians who specialize in treating chronic pain and have to decide whether their patients have a medical need for the drugs, go here.)

Read more about pharmacy robberies here.

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Study calls into question long-term opioid therapy

With all the stories of addiction and overdose deaths, it sometimes seems crazy that powerful prescription painkillers like OxyContin are still considered to be viable options for the treatment of people who aren’t, say, dying of cancer. Now, a new study appears to back that up that thinking. The risks of prescribing painkillers like OxyContin for long-term use in patients with chronic, non-cancer pain could outweigh the benefits of such treatment, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found. The increase in prescribing opioids to manage this type of pain “has been accompanied by alarming increases in diversion of prescription opioids, opioid misuse and abuse, and fatal overdoses involving prescription opioids,” leading the study’s authors to conclude that clinicians should err on the side of caution when considering this treatment.

It will be interesting to see how the pain management community responds to this new information.

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OxyContin Activists: Brad DeHaven

Brad DeHaven of Granite Bay, Calif. considered himself a typical suburban father: he coached his two boys’ soccer, baseball and football teams, helped with their homework, and did everything he could to instill a good work ethic and be a positive influence in their lives. But all that came crashing down when his older son, Brandon, became addicted to OxyContin in high school. DeHaven’s first book, “Defining Moments: A Suburban Father’s Journey Into His Son’s Oxy Addiction,” tells of the great lengths DeHaven went to in an attempt to help his son – including going undercover in a dangerous drug bust – and of how Brandon’s addiction affected the whole family. Oxy Watchdog spoke to DeHaven about how OxyContin led his family down an unimaginable path, and the book that lays it all bare.

Watchdog: Why did you decide to write a book and go public with your story?

Brad DeHaven: It started out as cathartic writing. I was doing a lot of traveling and had a lot of downtime in airports. It felt like when you’re writing a letter to someone but not really intending to send it out; I was just getting it off my chest. Before I knew it I had 10,000 words, then 20,000, then 30,000. It was like I kept scratching off these scabs I didn’t know were there, and the more I reached inward, the more I discovered about myself and learned what defined me as a person and a father.

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Tougher pill rules pit pain patients against “junkies”

In many areas of the nation struggling with prescription painkiller addiction, measures are being implemented to tighten licensing board rules on treating pain patients. In Washington state, this crackdown has prompted a number of doctors and clinics to stop taking new chronic pain patients who are already on opiates, and in some cases to cut off current pain patients, according to this article. While the new rules don’t apply to patients with injuries, surgery, cancer or people who are dying, there has already been pushback. Some doctors say the rules are too burdensome, while pain patients say they’re being denied the medicines they have come to rely on. Others say the stricter rules will drive desperate pain patients to seek illegal pills on the black market or try risky alternatives.

But the real point of contention here seems to be one of perception. Pain patients don’t like to be perceived as “junkies” – “it’s no fun to go down to one of these druggie centers and stand in line with all these guys with tattoos and pee in a bottle,” one man says in the article. And yet, the perspective of these so-called “junkies” isn’t included. I can guarantee that if it were, this would be a different story. The 25-year-old kid who got started on Oxy at 15 doesn’t want the junkie life to be his reality, any more than the pain patient wishes to be in pain (or, if they admitted it, to be hooked on these powerful medications).

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The Ryan Creedon Act

Like many moms, Kathy Creedon of Palm Desert, Calif. never dreamed her son Ryan would become a drug addict. But Ryan became addicted to prescription drugs, and in 2009, he died of an overdose of OxyContin and Xanax. He was just 21 years old. Kathy has taken up the fight against prescription drug addiction, starting a nonprofit organization called M.A.P.D.A. (Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse) to bring awareness to the public about the risks of pill abuse. In addition, California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack has introduced federal legislation in Ryan’s name. The Ryan Creedon Act of 2011 aims to educate doctors about the dangers of prescribing OxyContin and other drugs that are subject to abuse, and hopefully prevent Ryan’s situation from happening to others.

According to Kathy, in the 13-month period prior to Ryan’s death, he experienced six near-fatal prescription drug overdoses – yet his health care provider, Kaiser Permanente, continued to prescribe him massive amounts of pills even though Kathy repeatedly warned them that her son was an addict. The day before Ryan died, for example, he was given a prescription for 60 Xanax pills. “Every single time I thought I’d covered my tracks and put a stop to it, I’d see another bottle from Kaiser and it made me sick to my stomach that this could go on,” she says. “It’s mind-boggling that it happened to me and Ryan, but even more so that it’s happening all over the place.”

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Oxy abuse trend leading to opiate-addicted babies

Newborns being born addicted to painkillers is yet another disturbing trend stemming from the rampant abuse of prescription drugs, particularly opiates such as OxyContin. According to this article from the New York Times, babies born addicted to these drug pose new challenges, since the long-term effects of opiate addiction aren’t clear. Though infants experience painful withdrawals for their first few weeks of life and treating them is expensive, it’s also dangerous for a woman to stop using the drugs suddenly during pregnancy.

Read about birth defects caused by opiate abuse here.

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