The Beginning of Pain Medications
In recent years, this country has seen a massive increase in the abuse of certain forms of narcotics, most significantly people become addicted to opiates, both in illicit forms like the street drug, and to synthetic opioids like the pain medications manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by doctors. With the increased potency and availability of these pharmaceutical painkillers, a massive black market has emerged allowing people never legally prescribed these drugs to get hooked on them.
Medicines derived from the Opium Poppy have been utilized by certain societies for hundreds of years. In 1804, the German pharmacist named Friedrich Sertürner first synthesized the analgesic compound Morphine from opium, a synthetic version of which is still used in hospitals and emergency rooms throughout the world. While Western society had prior exposure to opioid painkillers for centuries, it was the explosive use of one prescription drug in particular, Oxycontin that created the greatest impact on addiction in this country.
Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid, and the active ingredient in the brand-name drug Oxycontin, was first created in 1917. Since 1976, oxycodone had been combined with paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen or Tylenol, to make the prescription drug Percocet. But it wasn’t until 1996, when the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma began manufacturing the drug Oxycontin that the demand, both legally and illegally, for prescription painkillers expanded drastically in the United States. Unlike other prescription pain medications like Vicodin or Percocet, which had acetaminophen in them and a much smaller amount of opioid agent per dose, Oxycontin was an extended-release version of the drug oxycodone with anywhere from 8-16 times the amount of the drug per pill then in the standard Percocet.
How The Opioid Epidemic Began
The concentrated dose of oxycodone in each pill made Oxycontin highly addictive as compared to painkillers prescribed in the past. In addition, the fact that the drug was widely prescribed and readily available also made it easier to abuse and become addicted to. Shrewd drug abusers quickly realized that they crush Oxycontin and either insufflate, ingest orally, or intravenously inject the drug to intensify its effects. Whereas the street drug heroin had been historically relegated to major urban areas, rural and suburban regions of the country with no heroin traffic were now exposed to highly potent opioid derivatives. And because of Oxycontin’s potent nature, individuals who had been prescribed the drug for legitimate pain management needs soon found themselves procuring the drugs illicitly, either by receiving prescriptions from multiple doctors or by buying them from others selling their prescriptions.
In 2010 Purdue Pharma started producing extended-release oxycondone with tamper-resistant features to prevent abuse of the medication. The indirect consequence of both the introduction of Oxycontin and it’s subsequent reformulation was an influx of heroin and the increased use of other prescription opioid painkillers, like Roxicodone and Dilaudid, into areas of the United States where they had previously not been a concern, as recently created opiate addicts looked for new avenues to feed their narcotics addictions.
Painkiller Addiction Today
Today there is a virtual epidemic of both heroin and prescription painkiller abuse throughout the country, affecting areas from the suburbs of Long Island, NY to remote regions of states like Vermont, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Michigan. Some of these newer black market medication or heroin addicts were originally people from walks of life that would never have encountered hard narcotics before. Some of them were given these pain medications for legitimate reasons and became inadvertently addicted. For someone suffering from an opiate or prescription painkiller addiction, often times a medical detoxification is required, followed by time in a inpatient or partial-hospitalization treatment program. Contact us at Drug Treatment Center Finder for help finding the best possible treatment for your particular needs.