Oxycodone, a Foundational Building Block of the Opioid Epidemic

Lately oxycodone has been one of the most commonly prescribed pain pills in the state of Florida, and across the United States. People in Florida can find oxycodone easily enough illicitly, on the street, but it is also a widely prescribed narcotic analgesic, given to patients with acute and persistent pain. In fact, Florida is considered one of the easiest places to acquire illicit prescription drugs. Some would argue that the ready availability of substance abuse is a foundational building block of the awful opiate addiction afflicting the world’s populations today. It follows then that the ease of access to the drug is why almost 6000 citizens of Florida die every year to an opioid addiction. That’s 16 people who die every day due to an opioid addiction that very likely began with prescription analgesics like oxycodone, which probably led them to more potent opioids like heroin or even fentanyl rather than seeking rehab in Florida for their addiction recovery treatment process.

Doctors prescribe oxycodone for a lot of different reasons such as the pain a patient may feel after a surgery, dentists prescribe opioids after tooth removal, a doctor might prescribe it for severe back pain, even to new mothers often are given Percocet after delivery. Oxycodone is prescribed so frequently that opioids have largely become a  doctor’s go to drug for pain relief in the young and the old according to CNN’s fact sheet on opioids , “The number of opioid prescriptions dispensed by doctors steadily increased from 112 million prescriptions in 1992 to a peak of 282 million in 2012, according to the market research firm IMS Health. The number of prescriptions dispensed has since declined, falling to 236 million in 2016.”

The Sunshine State is right in the middle of this monumental world epidemic. This is probably the reason that community organizations as well as local and state governments have been putting so much energy into looking for solutions or at least ways to mitigate the devastation opioids leave in their wake. In July of 2018 Governor Rick Scott signed a new bill into law that was meant to address the tragic number of overdoses in Florida communities. According the Associated Press, Mark Fontaine, Executive Director for the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association says that the law is “ a pretty comprehensive approach to addressing the epidemic, It has education programs and helps control the measures for availability.”

The legislation is an effort to address the multifaceted nature of the opioid crisis including the widespread access to drugs like oxycodone. The law creates more restrictions and limits on prescription pain pills as well as creates more money for opiate rehab. Florida treatment for opioid addicts needs to be even more available to those already struggling with chemical dependency on the drug if we are to truly combat this crisis. Opioids create an ultimatum for the community: If someone is addicted to an opioid drug like oxycodone, the result is almost always either treatment like detox and rehab, or death.

 

The Opioid Epidemic In the Wider National and International Population

Though Florida’s opioid statistics are staggering, the United States as a whole, indeed the whole worldwide community, is suffering greatly from the overwhelming addictive nature of these drugs. Enough people are dying because of opioids that world leaders, the healthcare community, and everyday citizens have started to pay close attention. According to the World Health Organization, in 2016  75% of the world’s drug related fatalities are due to opioid abuse. The origin of so much of opioid addiction starts with a completely legal prescription drug that because the patient is in moderate to severe acute pain, seems so innocent and even necessary. No one deserves to have to go through severe pain. The problem comes when the patient starts to use more of the oxycodone or prescription pain pills than their physician directed. After a time the user who received a simple pain reliever form their doctor has to seek out stronger versions of opioids on the street because they are now chemically dependent upon the drug but they can no longer get a satisfying fix from oxycodone – they have to seek out something more potent like the opiates heroin and morphine, or even one of the opioid families heavy hitters, Fentanyl. So many patients who check into one of Florida’s detox and wellness centers do so with an addiction to opiates or opioids like these stronger opioids came to the addiction via pills like oxycodone or hydrocodone. According to CNN’s Opioid Fact Sheet:  

“Hydrocodone and oxycodone are semi-synthetic opioids, manufactured in labs with natural and synthetic ingredients. Between 2007 and 2016, the most widely prescribed opioid was hydrocodone (Vicodin). In 2016, 6.2 billion hydrocodone pills were distributed nationwide. The second most prevalent opioid was oxycodone (Percocet). In 2016, 5 billion oxycodone tablets were distributed in the United States.”

Those numbers are likely to make a person feel a bit hopeless. While sometimes it feels like we are seeing overdoses from opiate problems like heroin addiction reduce, we see these prescriptions moving out to people by the billions, knowing that so many of those prescriptions will result in an addiction that will either be treated, whether alone or at an addiction rehab center, or result in a fatal overdose.

 

Oxycodone, AKA…

The prescription medication oxycodone is known by several different pseudonyms in the healthcare world as well as on the street. The following are some of the drug’s nicknames:

Percocet is one of the most common forms of the prescription analgesic prescribed today. This form of oxycodone was originally approved by the by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the mid 1970’s to treat patients needing pain relief from moderate to severe pain.

The drug is also known by the following nicknames:

  • Blue Dynamite
  • Blueberries
  • Buttons
  • Ercs
  • Greenies
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Kickers
  • Percs
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Bananas

 

Oxycontin is another brand name version of the drug that is mixed with acetaminophen. It was created by Purdue Pharma and certified for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA in the late 1990’s. The drug is commonly known by the following nicknames:

  • 30’s
  • 40’s
  • 512’s
  • Beans
  • Blues
  • Cotton
  • Shorts
  • Whites
  • Oxy
  • OC

 

The Origins of a Killer

Oxycodone was created in Germany in the early 1900’s. It is a semi-synthetic form of opioid sources from the poppy plant. It’s usually prescribed in a pill form and taken by mouth. Sometimes someone who is struggling with opioid addiction will pulverize the pill or puncture the capsule to access the powdered drug in order to sniff it up their nostrils, consume the powder by mouth, or even inject it mixed with water, into the veins. These methods offer the addict a quicker fix.

The drug was ripe to become a popular street drug because it addresses both physical discomfort as well as mental discomfort. Oxycodone like all opioids creates a sense of calm and and relaxed contentment in its user by binding to the pain, pleasure, and addiction controlling receptors in the brain. With results like that, people flock to the drug and though the tenacity of opioid addiction is well known, prescription drugs come with a promise of safety for many because they rely on the expertise of their doctor. The numbers are disturbing and can feel hopeless. Oxycodone is an unexpected killer that targets both young and old alike. There’s been an uptick in perennial adults developing addiction to opioids. Opioid pain relievers like oxycodone can come from behind and if abused can indeed lead to overdose, even death.

Even though the facts can feel stark, the spotlight that has become focused on opioid addiction is forcing the wide world, it’s leaders and healthcare professionals to wake up and pay attention to the very real threat that is opioid addiction. Measures like Florida’s most recent laws passed by Governor Scott have been put into place in other communities. In fact 25 other states had already passed such laws before Florida got on board.

 

Oxycodone Treatment in Florida

Oxycodone generates an addiction within the drug abuser that can be an easy trap into becoming drug addicts, which can quickly lead to opiates or opioids of a significantly more volatile and deadly nature. The seemly innocuous nature of a pain reliever prescription quickly becomes a nightmare situation for the chemically dependent as well as their loved ones, especially when a dual diagnosis or cooccurring disorder is part of the equation. The relief of much needed care betrays and instead of helping, relief turns into addiction, a truly deadly disease. Ready access to treatment often means life or death.

FHE Health has hope for the opioid addict. FHE offers best in class service during opiate detox and our intensive inpatient drug rehab programs. Our licensed medical professionals are there to monitor your physical and mental wellbeing as you go through withdrawal during drug detox to end the opiate addiction. FHE Health also offers substance abuse drug addiction rehab as well as intensive outpatient programs and aftercare for relapse prevention at one of the best addiction centers in Florida. Call FHE today to learn more about opioid addiction treatment.

 

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