Looking over the current news about the opioid painkiller OxyContin, we can see there's not much change today from any other day in the last year or so. This is a drug that, despite its usefulness for helping serious chronic pain sufferers, has created a dark side of prescription drug addiction and crime, and led thousands of people to need drug detox, if not an undertaker.
If anyone doubts that we have a problem in America with crime connected to narcotic prescription drug addiction, just take a look at today's top headlines about OxyContin, as reported by Google news. The name of the drug may not appear in every headline, but the stories are all about OxyContin:
Alleged OxyContin thief arrested
Mesa man tricked into arrest; aspirin switched for OxyContin
Wheelchair-bound man robbed by gunman seeking painkillers
OxyContin Drug Bust in Owen Sound
Sevierville pharmacy robbed of OxyContin
Police seeking suspect in Sevierville OxyContin robbery
Former court worker held in OxyContin sale
Police seize contraband cigarettes, OxyContin and firearms
A closely related painkiller called oxycodone is experiencing a similar notoriety, sending thousands into drug detox and rehab, hospitals and prisons. Here are today's headlines about oxycodone. As above with OxyContin, the word “oxycodone" may not appear in the headlines but the stories concern it:
San Diego Area Pharmacies Involved in Prescription Drugs Improprieties
Noblesville doctor faces federal charges
Durham police arrest 63 in drug sting
North Wildwood doctor pleads not guilty to drug and insurance fraud
Local Doctor Loses Appeal
E. Idaho woman faces prescription drug theft charges
Mother & daughter attacked outside N. Memphis home
Swampscott cop was on duty during probe
Alleged pill thief nabbed by police after entering pharmacy
Also in the headlines: A man in Arkansas was in court yesterday on manslaughter charges for crossing the center line and crashing into and killing an innocent 86-year-old woman - a cousin of former president Bill Clinton. The man was high on Lortab, an opioid painkiller similar to Vicodin, and Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug popular with drug abusers these days. Xanax, for example, can create serious dependence, and victims generally require drug detox to get off it safely. Another story tells how a mother and daughter were assaulted outside their home by a drug-seeking criminal who followed them home from the drug store.
The point we're making here is that not only are opioid painkillers like OxyContin and oxycodone causing prescription drug addiction and sending people to drug detox, there is also a vast and growing underworld of crime surrounding many prescription drugs - narcotic painkillers, tranquilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics - the list goes on. And there are increasing incidents of accidents like car crashes, falls, accidental overdoses, and far too many serious injuries and deaths connected to abuse and misuse of prescription drugs - either to the drug user or to innocent bystanders. And remember that dangerous prescription drugs are routinely stolen from other family members and friends, far more often than at gunpoint in pharmacies.
Prescription drugs have their uses, but they have their dangers and abuses. To avoid accidents, dependencies, addictions, the need for drug detox, or becoming the victim of a crime, take a few moments and make sure that you fully understand the dosages, side effects and potential risks of your prescriptions, and that your prescription drugs are safely locked up or hidden from prying eyes. And if you or someone you know has any kind of problem at all with a prescription drug, consult a drug detox counselor right away - because a drug detox program may be the right, and only, solution to prevent disaster.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.