A New Pill That Drug Treatment Providers Need To Be Aware Of
Oxycontin abuse in the Sacramento area and all of California continues to devastate families of all walks of life. Education of the general public and in the drug treatment community is the key to effectively treating addiction to opiates like Oxycontin. To be successful in the drug treatment efforts means that providers need to stay up to date on what’s going on with opiate abuse.
The formulation for Oxycontin was recently changed in an effort to make it harder for addicts and other people to abuse the drug. As a result, many people that have become addicted to Oxycontin have switched to heroin or other forms of opiates to chase the high they seek. A new prescription drug that is starting to become available on the street is a pill called Opana. This is resulting in an accelerating number of drug treatment intakes for Opana in relation to drug treatment intakes for Oxycontin.
Opana, also known as oxymorphone hydrochloride, is in the Opiate family and almost twice as potent as Oxycontin. It is a morphine-like opiod agonist and can be abused like other opiod agonists. Opana can be crushed and chewed, snorted, or injected. If the user is not aware of the potency of Opana, they are at great risk for overdose or possibly death. Even users with a high tolerance for Oxycontin can easily overdose on this powerful new drug.
The DEA classifies Opana as a schedule II narcotic and indicates the potency as two to eight times that of morphine; it also produces more sedation than morphine. According to one regional healthcare provider 7.5 mg of Opana is equivalent, in terms of strength, to 30 mg of morphine.
Some of the side effects of Opana that drug treatment providers should be aware of include shallow breathing, slow heart rate, seizures, cold and clammy skin, confusion, severe weakness, vomiting and dizziness. In other words, the symptoms of Opana abuse exhibited are similar to other opiates. When mixed with alcohol or other pain killers dangerous results can occur-including death.
The reported street price of Opana is $35 to $50 per pill as compared to $60 to $90 for an 80 mg old style Oxycontin pill. So not only is it cheaper than Oxycontin, but Opana has the same attractiveness to users that Oxycontin has-it’s not heroin and it’s sometimes prescribed by doctors giving it the aura of being “OK” to abuse. Street names for Opana include blues, blue heaven, new blues (even though some of the pills are pink and off-white), octagons (extended release), stop signs, pink, pink heaven, biscuits, pink lady, Mrs. O, Orgasna IR, OM, Pink O, The O Bomb and others.
The same vicious cycle that exists for Oxycontin exists for Opana. The high is good, or the pain is relieved, which leads to additional use. Before the addict or the patient knows it, they are hooked and usually require a structure drug treatment program to “kick” their addiction to Opana. The body becomes dependent and the withdrawal symptoms are rough. This drives the user to seek more of the drug to relieve their Opana withdrawal symptoms. As their Opana abuse continues their tolerance continues to go up which makes their withdrawal symptoms even worse.
By this time they need to seek higher doses of the Opana to relieve their withdrawal symptoms, kill the pain they perceive, or achieve the high they are seeking. If money is tight for the Opana addict or their prescription has run out, the odds are they will switch to heroin which is much cheaper and more readily available. If they don’t seek drug treatment at some point, their continued opiate abuse (Opana or heroin) will eventually lead to their demise.
While this cycle of addiction is nothing new, there is a need amongst drug treatment providers, parents and loved ones to be aware of the drug. Drug treatment for Opana abuse will be similar to other opiates. The first step in drug treatment will be an opiate detox treatment followed by addiction counseling, inpatient residential drug treatment, and possible 12 step meetings.