The OxyContin Epidemic in America
Prescription painkillers can provide an improved quality of life for people who suffer from pain. But Oxycontin can be just as dangerous as heroin when it is abused or misused. Even when used as prescribed, it often results in physical dependence and addiction.
Many people feel safe to experiment with Oxycontin, believing that it is harmless or less harmful than street drugs because it is doctor prescribed. This is a grossly false assumption because it is just as addictive as heroin. The abuse of this drug is not confined to a specific demographic – high school students are just as likely to abuse the drug as are retirees, and each group is just as prone to develop a tolerance to dosage and form addiction.
Difference Between OxyContin and Oxycodone
People are sometimes confused about the difference between Oxycontin and oxycodone. Oxycontin is the brand name of a pharmaceutical drug that contains a pure form of oxycodone, an opiate that is similar to morphine or heroin (all derived from opium). Doctors often prescribe the drug to people who suffer from severe to moderate and continuous pain from a wide range of maladies including injuries, arthritis and cancer. Oxycodone can also be combined with acetaminophen or aspirin and sold by other names such as Percocet and Percodan.
Oxycontin has a time-release feature that works by releasing a controlled amount of the medication into the bloodstream by a special coating meant to slowly dissolve and release the narcotic in delayed doses. Abusers typically crush the pill and snort the powder or dissolve it in water to be later injected. These methods are done to bypass the time-release feature and give abusers a rush. After a person has been taking this powerful narcotic for a while, nerve receptors adapt to the powerful drug. This causes the addict to need to take more and more of the drug to achieve any desired effect.
Since the late 1990s, more than 100 million prescriptions of oxycodone have been written in America. This equals about one bottle of pills for every three people. In 2010, U.S. pharmacies dispensed 69 tons of pure oxycodone. It can be prescribed by doctors and used legitimately for pain; but this dangerous narcotic is easily abused because of the strong euphoric effect it produces and the ease in which it can be obtained. Oxycontin abuse has become an epidemic in the United States, surpassing marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. In South Florida, the heart of oxy distribution, local newspapers run advertisements for pain management clinics that sell prescription painkillers. Some even offer coupons. According to a TV documentary, "The Oxycontin Express," 85 percent of all oxy comes from Florida. This highly addictive opiate is responsible for more than 11,000 deaths each year.
Slang names for the drug are oxy, ox and OC; as well as additional street terms of blue, hillbilly heroin, kicker and oxycotton.
The oxy epidemic has been fueled by:
- Unethical doctors who over-prescribed the pills to patients for the money. In 2011, the Obama administration took note of the prescription drug abuse problem in America and recognized the need for legislation and mandated training before doctors are able to prescribe this powerful narcotic.
- Children and teenagers began stealing the pills from their parents' medicine cabinets. Some would take the pills themselves and share them with classmates, and others would sell them on the streets or in school for extra money.
- Storefront pain management clinics, known as pill mills, prolifically opened in many states, most notably Florida. People go to these clinics to obtain oxy without a prescription. In fact, the 75 freeway has become known as the "Oxy Express," which referred to the large number of people who travel down to Florida from as far away as Kentucky, Ohio and Maine to either buy the drug for their own use, sell on the black market in their state or a combination of the two. A Kentucky sheriff said in the documentary referring to the Florida pill mills, "All the profit is down there. All the pain is up here."
Successful Oxycontin Rehab
Many people who are addicted to oxy go in and out of rehab in what seems like an endless cycle. One addict in the documentary who lost both his brother and his wife to an Oxycontin overdose, said that he has been in and out of rehab so many times that he is embarrassed to go back. This sentiment is common with people who do not receive the proper drug rehabilitation care to end an opiate addiction, and are stuck in a discouraging cycle of poor substance abuse treatment and eventual relapse. After experiencing one failure after another, many simply give up; but it doesn't need to be this way.
Many types of Oxycontin rehabs exist. It is important for a person who is addicted to opiates to understand the differences and choose the best rehab program that will correctly address both the physical withdrawal symptoms and the cravings that usually lead to relapse. Treating an addiction is not easy. Opiates are powerful narcotics with usually require a long-term inpatient rehab program for extensive round-the-clock care. Additionally, leaving one's environment to check into a residential rehab facility is in itself extremely beneficial because it removes the person away from their triggers which lessens the urge to reverting back to abusing drugs while in recovery.
The first step to recovery is to undergo a medically supervised detoxification process. The time it takes to rid the body of all the drug toxins varies with each person's drug history. Some of the best facilities incorporate holistic detox procedures, most notably known as the biophysical rehab method. This uses a comprehensive approach to treat the addict's body and mind through nutrition, physical well-being and individual counseling.
One-on-one counseling is the next step which provides the therapeutic support needed for successful rehabilitation. It doesn't matter if the original use was medically prescribed or from illegal use, behavioral therapy is done to help the individual deal with their issues without the need of powerful narcotics.
It is important to break the learned behavior and discover other more productive ways to achieve the sought after results that drugs were providing; and know it is possible to live a life free from Oxycontin addiction or the need of any other damaging painkillers.
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