Understanding Drug Dependence
Save Our Kids, Save Our Future, Ban OxyContin Now
Recent research from Rockefeller University warns of “lifelong and permanent changes” in the brains of adolescents who experiment with opioid painkillers like OxyContin. This terrifying fact, along with unprecedented numbers of addictions, injuries and deaths associated with the drug, has prompted concerned citizens to launch an online petition calling to ban OxyContin from the marketplace.
The Rockefeller University study revealed that adolescents are not only more sensitive to the high that OxyContin abusers seek -- called “reward effects” -- but also that they can suffer permanent damage to the so-called “reward system” in their brains from even a few exposures to the drug. Pre-teens and teens who dabble with opioid painkillers like OxyContin are far more likely to develop serious addictions if they are exposed to opioids again later in life, than are adults who encounter the drug for the first time.
While new advances in medical drug detox and drug rehab are helping combat opioid addiction more effectively than ever before, it has never been more urgent for educators, government leaders and law enforcement officials to strongly encourage parents to talk to kids about the dangers of experimenting with drugs, especially opioid painkillers like OxyContin. And everyone, especially parents of teenage kids, should lock up their prescription drugs.
The statistics driving the grass-roots movement to ban OxyContin are hair-raising, to say the least. For more than a decade, prescription opioid painkillers have been aggressively promoted to physicians across the country for treatment of even moderate chronic, non-cancer pain, in spite of the fact it was approved for severe chronic pain such as end-stage cancer pain. As a result, prescriptions for oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, have increased 588%.
With that increased use have come thousands of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and addictions, and a soaring crime rate that includes not just arrests for possession, abuse and drug dealing, but armed robbery and even murder. All this carnage stems directly from OxyContin smuggling and distribution, a situation costing Americans billions of dollars in law enforcement and legal costs, escalating healthcare costs, lost productivity, and thousands of ruined lives and families.
Fully 80% of the world’s prescription opioid supply is now consumed in the U.S., according to a recent study. Prescription opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and generic opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, are second only to marijuana in terms of numbers of abusers. OxyContin and other prescription opioids are even ahead of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.
OxyContin (and the active ingredient oxycodone) is the most frequent cause of drug-related deaths reported to the FDA, and more than twice as many Americans have died from opioid painkillers than died in the Iraq war in 2006. Experts across the country agree that prescription opioid abuse is a national epidemic, that it is getting worse, and that something needs to be done about it.
There is finally some official recognition of the problem, and a series of state and federal public meetings are being held directly addressing the “OxyContin and heroin problem”. OxyContin is nothing more than legalized heroin, and most heroin addicts are content to switch to OxyContin whenever they can get it. The meetings are asking the public for information and ideas about dealing with the OxyContin/heroin epidemic.
Even though everyone isn’t invited to the meetings, we can all do something -- and that is to sign the petition to ban OxyContin, the most widely abused of all opioids. There are thousands of signatures already, but more are needed to make an impact with the FDA. An outright ban will get it out of the hands of doctors, out of our homes, and out of the hands of our kids.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.