OxyContin is one of the most widely abused drugs there is today. While prescription painkiller abuse in general has been steadily rising over the last decade, it is often OxyContin that becomes the most addicting.
Addicted to the Pain Relief
Some people who abuse OxyContin started taking it to manage pain, as prescribed by their doctor. Someone who experienced an injury or had surgery and was put on OxyContin most likely received some relief in pain, but being on the drug too long, or at a high dose, can easily lead to addiction. Someone who has become addicted to OxyContin because they needed to take it for pain may eventually doctor shop around in order to keep getting prescriptions to satisfy their addiction. These people often pop hundreds of pills a day.
Other people actually seek out OxyContin to abuse, and drug dealers selling the stuff are kept busy. Drug addicts looking for a new high have tried OxyContin, liked it, and gotten hooked. These people may visit doctors to fake some sort of pain and get a prescription, but more commonly, they will simply find an OxyContin dealer and get their pills that way. A more experienced drug addict like this will usually crush the OxyContin pills and snort or inject them, making for a more rapid, more intense high.
Reformulating Pills to Deter Abuse
With prescription drug abuse such a problem in our country today, people are looking for any way they can to stop the abuse of prescription drugs. One way that the manufacturers of OxyContin have found is to reformulate the pills so they are harder to crush. When someone tries to crush the pills, they get gummy and flatten, but don’t easily turn to powder. It can now take someone an hour to get the substance somewhat right to snort or inject, and most people end up giving up and throwing the pills away.
OxyContin was the first prescription painkiller to be reformulated for this purpose, and other drug companies are looking at their pills now also. For the time, the reformulation, which occurred last year, seems to have frustrated users, and while some find ways around the uncrushable pills, many have given up use of the drug altogether.
This may seem like good news, but the victory is bittersweet. Many OxyContin users, rather than turning to help for their addiction, have turned to stronger substances, including heroin or other forms of oxycodone. “It’s just a matter of switching,” said John Burke, commander of the drug task force in Warren County, Ohio, and president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. “If I’m an addict, I’m going to find a drug that works.” (1)