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Opiate Use in 2012

May 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Opiate, Substance Abuse

Opiate Use in 2012

Opiate Use in 2012

Opiate use in 2012 has now reached a level of epidemic proportions. Abuse of prescription narcotics in the US over the last 10 years has skyrocketed. Opiate addicted infants have replaced the “crack” babies of the 1980’s as the newest nightmare for neonatal doctors around the country.

The commonality of opiate use in 2012 can be attributed to many different factors. The use and abuse of prescription drugs is viewed differently by most people than abuse of the so-called “street drugs.” It is more socially acceptable to take prescription opioid medications than, say, heroin. It is thought that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because their manufacture is regulated. Also, there is a false sense of safety because a doctor prescribes these medications. Many also mistakenly think that prescription drug abuse is not illegal, or carries a less severe penalty than abuse of street drugs.

Opiate use in 2012 and the preceding decade has increased due to the way that many doctors now view and treat chronic pain. Twenty-five years ago, doctors did not prescribe opioid pain medication for non-malignant chronic pain out of fear of addiction. These medications were reserved for those suffering from cancer or other terminal diseases. In the 90’s, a shift occurred in the medical community and the focus turned to improving patient quality of life. Prescription drug manufacturers spent millions on marketing and developing new drugs to treat pain. With these prescription drugs flooding the market, opiate use began to increase exponentially.

One of the most infamous prescription opiates on the market in the last decade is the powerful narcotic OxyContin. In 1995, the Federal Drug Administration approved the manufacture of OxyContin, a time-release version of oxycodone. When the drug was released, concerns and reports of illicit use and abuse began to increase exponentially. Before the release of OxyContin, all formulations of oxycodone contained an NSAID, which limited its potential for abuse. The NSAID component of the drugs also restricted the routes of administration to oral ingestion. When OxyContin was released, abusers realized that they could crush the pill to release pure oxycodone (up to 80mg in one pill), which allowed larger doses and by additional routes of administrations such as intravenous and intranasal. Due to the widespread abuse, especially in rural areas, OxyContin came to be known as “Hillbilly Heroin,” and reports of its abuse flooded the media.

In 2011, to try to curb abuse of the drug, manufacturers added additional binders to the formulation to prevent the grinding of tablets for insufflation or injection, and to maintain OxyContin’s extended release characteristics. The added binders greatly reduced the recreational value of OxyContin, because they were not easily broken down. When this happened, the short release version of oxycodone-Roxicodone, or Roxy’s- quickly became the new formulation of choice by abusers.

Opiate use in 2012 has evolved with the market to include both Roxicodone and an even newer and more powerful prescription narcotic: Opana. Officials are unable to pass legislation quickly enough to stem the tide of doctors writing illegitimate prescriptions and prescription drug manufacturers releasing new kinds of narcotic pain medication.

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