As Prescription Drug Formulations Change, Opiate Addicts Turn to Opana

In an effort to save lives, painkiller manufacturers have opted to or have been ordered to reformulate their strong painkillers that are popular with addicts. One of the first actions of this type was taken a few years ago when the Food and Drug Administration ordered Purdue Pharmaceutical to eliminate their very highest dosage of OxyContin. The 120 milligram pill was very popular with addicts because they could get the biggest dose of opiate in one pill. But overdoses were too frequent, so Purdue eliminated this dosage and now their highest dosage is 80 milligrams.

But this step failed to stop drug overdoses resulting from crushing and snorting OxyContin, so finally Purdue had to reformulate the pill entirely. Now the medication is impregnated in a gooey plastic substance. No longer could abusers crush the pill into powder or dissolve it and inject it.

Turning to a New Drug to Calm the Cravings

But the craving for opiates is so strong in an addict that he (or she) will find more of the drug somehow. Some addicts will turn to heroin purchased on a street corner and others will find a different prescription painkiller that can still be abused. For this reason, many people have turned to Opana. This is a slightly different chemical called oxymorphone. Opana is twice as strong as Oxycontin so it is no wonder that it would be seen as a solution.

It did not take long for Opana abuse to begin to kill people. Oxycontin was reformulated in 2011, and according to a New York Times article, one county in Indiana had 14 overdose deaths resulting from Opana in just the first half of that year.

When a drug becomes popular with addicts, it is very easy to see the trend. The drug may be stolen from hospitals or nursing homes by the staff, and armed thugs may break into pharmacies, demanding a drug by name.

What is just as bad or worse than demanding a new prescription drug is what happens when a person can’t get an alternate prescription pain medication. In this case, an addict is likely to turn to an illicit supply of heroin. There are additional dangers here though, the dangers of uncontrolled dosage, shared needles that spread disease or damage from substances used to cut the drug and make it go farther.

Paradoxically, while heroin supplies have been weak over the last couple of decades, stronger potency has been seen in the last year or two, as high as 90% pure in Minnesota.

Heroin, Opana and other prescription opiates bring other dangers as well, such as deterioration into a marginal lifestyle. A person who loses a job due to the destructive effect of addiction may have to turn to crime to keep themselves supplied with drugs.

Opana to be Next in Line for Reformulation

In late 2011, the manufacturer of Opana announced that this pill too would go through anti-abuse reformulation. Once every major prescription pill is reformulated, this action will surely drive more and more people to illicit drugs. In another paradox, a pharmaceutical company called Zogenix announced plans to offer a new painkiller formulation called Zohydro, that contains 100% of the painkiller hydrocodone. Usual hydrocodone formulations contain mostly acetaminophen and have just 10 milligrams of hydrocodone. Zogenix claims that a 100 milligram hydrocodone pill would be a benefit for those in pain, but it might also feed the appetites of those who are addicted.

Getting to the Root of the Problem of Addiction

The only time the solution seems like a constant round of reformulations is when it doesn’t seem possible to bring about an end to addiction. But at Narconon Arrowhead, recovery happens every day. This is a long-term drug rehab program in which the person hoping for recovery takes all the time he (or she) needs to get back on his feet. The cost of the program doesn’t change if the person takes more time to find sobriety. The important factor is that he knows that he is ready to build a new, enjoyable, sober life.

This result from the Narconon Arrowhead drug rehab program is accomplished in part through the use of a thorough detoxification phase that helps reduce or even eliminate cravings, and the teaching of life skills that are needed for that productive new life. To stay sober, a person truly needs to work through the issues that caused the drug abuse in the first place, and find relief from the guilt, cravings and depression that resulted from the addicted years. Relationships with loved ones must be rebuilt, and responsibility must grow as all these changes take place.

At Narconon Arrowhead, there is guidance through these changes every step of the way. Families coming to graduation ceremonies often say that this time, they have their loved one back again, the way he was before the drugs stole him away. And graduates tell us that this time, they understand how to stay sober.

Learn more about how this program works by calling Narconon Arrowhead today at 1-800-468-6933.