While the new OxyContin pill may be more difficult to abuse, some fear the change may lead to a spike in heroin abuse and an increased need for an effective opiate rehab.
Over the years, we have continued to see headlined scattered with the latest artist, actor, musician or athlete who has overdosed on some sort of prescription medication. One of the most commonly abused of these drugs is the painkiller, OxyContin.
Purdue Pharma Develops New “Safer” OxyContin Formula
The addictive qualities of this opioid drug and the number of tragic overdoses linked to it have resulted in over 1,000 individual lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the creator of the drug. In May 2007 the company pled guilty to misleading the public and physicians about OxyContin’s public safety profile, and agreed to pay over $600 million in fines. Representatives on the case say that Purdue made false claims that OxyContin is safer and less addictive than other narcotic painkillers.
Although OxyContin was designed to be ingested orally and digested over a 12-hour period, drug abusers learned that by crushing or liquefying the pill they could snort or inject the substance, giving them a euphoric high similar to that of heroin.
As a result, Purdue Pharma designed new OxyContin pill, harder to crush and more difficult to dissolve. In April 2010, The American Food and Drug Administration approved the new OxyContin pill (called OxyContin OP) and discontinued the production and sale of the prior OxyContin formula (called OxyContin OC). Since that time, OxyContin has again been reformulated and the FDA reports it will not approve generics which are likened to the original OxyContin formula.
Is OxyContin a Gateway Drug to Heroin?
“Due to OxyContin being remanufactured to the new OPs, which are harder to abuse, true addicts are finding that heroin is much easier and cheaper to get,” says James Pease, supervisor of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Mid-Coast Regional Task Force Office in Maine. “We’re seeing more people bring heroin in to the mid-coast.”
According to Pease, people are substituting their OxyContin addiction with a more harmful heroin addiction.
“By reformulating the pill to make it harder to abuse, the pharmaceutical company is marketing that it is now preventing the drug abusers to get high on their product,” said Derry Hallmark of Narconon Arrowhead Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. “Unfortunately, the damage is already done and the addiction is now present as a result of the OxyContin.”
Treatment staff at Narconon urge users of the new opioid OxyContin formula to proceed with caution. “Safety of the old Oxycontin OCs was assured by Purdue and ended up being an empty promise,” said Hallmark. “Users of the new Oxycontin OPs need to remain vigilant and aware of the abuse potential that still remains considering the safety assurances have been exaggerated in the past.”
Powerful prescription painkillers have become this country’s second-most popularly abused category of drugs, leading the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to classify the issue as a national epidemic. According to what law enforcement and drug counselors have seen, the often expensive habit of pharmaceuticals is driving many users to street drugs like heroin instead.
“The last thing we want to happen is for those individuals currently addicted to OxyContin to replace their addiction with heroin,” says Hallmark. “What we aim for is these individuals living drug free, permanently.”
For help with an OxyContin addiction, contact Narconon Arrowhead today by calling 1-800-468-6933 or by logging onto www.stopaddiction.com.