This is one top ranking Oregon doesn’t want. And the State of Washington is number three on the list.*
Prescription pain pill abuse is a huge concern, and Oregon has the highest rate of nonmedical use of prescription pain drugs. This category of drugs are often known by their brand names: OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Demerol and others. These are opioids – synthetic versions of opium.
Because opioids cause euphoria, they have been associated increasingly with misuse and abuse.
And they carry a huge potential for addiction.
Once hooked, there is a familiar pattern that develops for users of opioids. As abuse increases, so does tolerance. That means that it takes increasing amounts of the drug to get the same effect. Often it starts with “Doctor Shopping” – an effort to get several unsuspecting doctors to prescribe more medications to the user. If the pills can’t be acquired through medical channels, addicted persons either take them from medicine chests or try to buy them “on the street”.
Unfortunately the cost of the prescription pain pill habit quickly escalates beyond the financial capacity of the user. Consequently they transition to heroin, which has only a few molecules diffence and can be obtained cheaper, easier and faster. Users start by snorting or smoking heroin, eventually resorting to intervenous use.
It’s a hideous cycle that public education could go a long way to prevent.
Over 70 percent of these pills are obtained from family or friends, often without their knowledge. Only five percent come from drug dealers.
What can you do? Lock up your medications and safely dispose of unwanted or expired drugs. And get a conversation going about the danger with friends and family members.
*The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows Oregon leading the nation with the highest rate of nonmedical use of prescription pain medications.