Monday, November 24, 2008

Why is OxyContin abused?

According to a DEA statement before the US House of Representatives, inappropriate use of OxyContin became a concern in 2000, and by 2001 it had reached "levels of … abuse never before seen. … DEA has never witnessed such a rapid increase in the abuse and diversion of a pharmaceutical drug product."

Why such an explosion in abuse of OxyContin and not of similar drugs like Percocet and Percodan? It produces a more profound high. According to the FDA, OxyContin's unique "controlled-release formulation" means each tablet contains more oxycodone than these other drugs.

Ironically, it was this very makeup that led officials to believe OxyContin would have less potential for abuse. If taken as directed, it does.

But recreational users have discovered that the tablets can be crushed and then injected or snorted, quickly turning this safe medication into a highly addictive drug. When crushed into powder and snorted, swallowed, or injected, the user receives the entire dose instantly, rather than a slow release stretched out over 12 hours. Abused in this manner, OxyContin acts more like a street drug than a pain reliever, delivering a euphoric, heroin-like high.

Once addicted, users may start shopping around for doctors who will write OxyContin prescriptions without thoroughly checking their medical histories. They may search out the drug on the streets, and may even raid medicine cabinets or steal OxyContin from pharmacies.


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