Heroin Replaces the New OxyContin
July 13, 2012
OxyContin was reformulated two years ago to be “abuse-resistant” by being harder to crush, dissolve and therefore inject, but a recent study shows that it has not curbed addicts use of opioids. Unfortunately addicts are just using more dangerous forms such as heroin, fentanyl and dilaudid. These are known as the three “killers” because of the alarming number of overdose deaths associated with their use.
According to Theodore Cicero and his associates at Washington University, while OxyContin abuse decreased after the new version was put on the market, the use of other opiates increased nearly 15%. Cicero explained, “Abuse-deterrent formulations may not be the ‘magic bullets’ that many hoped they would be in solving the growing problem of opioid abuse.”The attempt to lower drug use by changing one drug on the market speaks to a greater misunderstanding of what addiction is. Most therapists working in an addiction treatment facility or recovering addicts would have likely predicted this outcome. Ask any addict what they would do if their drug of choice were taken away – and most would tell you they would switch to something similar. The problem therefore doesn’t lie in the availability of certain drugs over others, but in the general understanding of addict’s behavior and what policies would spark real change.Most policies enacted will have unintended consequences. The fact that addicts are now using stronger versions of the drug, which puts them at higher risk of overdose, is an example of a devastating unintended consequence. Hindsight is always 20-20 but this may have been avoided if more initial research had been done. Perhaps addicts could have been asked what behavioral changes they would make once the new OxyContin hit the streets.
Most addicts need to remove themselves from all drugs entirely to recover rather than just one version of one drug. In other words, millions of addicts have recovered not by having their drug of choice be “abuse-resistant,” but by making themselves “abuse resistant” to all drugs through effective drug treatment programs.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an opiate addiction, there is help.