FILED IN: Social Issues

Prescription abuse on the rise

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in America and rural residents are twice as likely to overdose on prescription pills than People in the cities. Prescription drugs are now responsible for more deaths than Heroin and Cocaine combined. In many places prescription drugs has overtaken meth as the most abused drug.

Prescription drug abuse on the rise

The hot new drug is Opana. In Scott County, Indiana at least nine people have died this year form prescription drug abuse. According to the county coroner, Kevin Collins, most of those fatalities involved Opana. Until 2011 only about 20 percent of coroner referred cased involved overdosing and most of those were suicides. Last year, almost half of the deaths referred tot he coroner were as a result of prescription drug overdose.

Opana useage increased after Oxycontin, a brand of oxycodone, was changed in 2010 to make the drug more difficult to snort or inject for a heroin-like high. Opana is more potent than Oxycontin and users who are not familiar with this fact may be vulnerable to overdosing.

Street names for Opana are “stop signs”, “the O bomb” and “new blues”. The drug is crushed and either snorted or injected. By crushing the pill the user defeats the pills original “extended release” design and releases the drug all at once.

The new design of Oxycontin’s pills make become gummy when crushed and they cannot be readily snorted or injected. This pill change drove used to Opana or generic forms of oxycodone

Endo Pharmaceuticals, which produces Opana, announced in December that it would reformulate Opana. The new pill is being manufactured now. The new formulation will makes it difficult to crush and turn the pill viscous or “gooey” if an abuser tries to add liquid to it, said company spokesman Kevin Wiggins. When used properly, Opana is indicated for chronic low back and osteoarthritis pain, and cancer pain.

Old form of Opana are still available and pharmacy and home robberies are on the rise as addicts search for a way to get their fix, according to police. There have been 11 pharmacy robberies in Fort Wayne, Indiana since Endo announced the reformulation. This is just not a mid-west occurrence and similar incidences have been reported in Florida.

One reason for the rise in prescription pill abuse is that Americans feel they can fix any problem – pain, depression, anxiety, hopelessness – with a pill, according to Shane Avery, a Scott County doctor. And some doctors, who may mean well but fear being sued for undertreating pain, give out pills better suited for cancer patients to soothe a backache, Avery said.

“The people who abuse prescription medications know how to doctor shop,” said Collins, the Scott County coroner.