OxyContin: The Crouching Tiger

The abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin by the younger generation is a growing concern for society. The drug gives the user a sense of euphoria, replacing anxiety with sleepy relaxation — a relaxed high if you will. One out of ten seniors in high school seniors have admitted to using narcotic painkillers to get high, and when it comes to OxyContin, the number
seems to be increasing among the youth. The drug provides an experience that is attracting an increasing amount of users. It is looked at as a “party” drug instead of an extremely addictive substance.

Is OxyContin abuse leading to the return of heroin as a favorite drug of abuse among youth?

The public’s flawed belief in what an addict looks and acts like is thought to be a factor in the growing number OxyContin users and its acceptance among the younger population. One of the especially troubling things about this addiction is the ease of use for the addicts; the fact that the effects are not immediately noticeable. As a result, the young people who are using it don’t see the harmful effect in their peers.

In California, emergency room visits for the misuse of OxyContin rose 152 percent between 2004 and 2008, with an even steeper increase was noted among those under 21. Some drug experts believe that the abuse of this drug is leading to the return of heroin as a favorite among youth in the state of California.

However, California is not the only state where the abuse of prescription drugs is a problem. In 2009, the state of Oklahoma consumed as much hydrocodone (the painkiller in Vicodin) as California, despite the fact that the population of Oklahoma is one tenth the size of the population of California. With a growing number of users, oxycodone, the active narcotic in OxyContin, is catching up quickly. Thousands of young Oklahomans have fallen prey to oxycodone and OxyContin, and even more to hydrocodone painkillers like Lortab and Vicodin.

This painkiller epidemic is so severe that it is leading to an overload of public facilities offering detoxification services for hydrocodone and OxyContin.

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