Damages from pain medication abuse

LISBON – By Cathy Brownfield

Family Recovery Center Publicist

STOP! If you abuse substances for whatever reason, you need to know. You need to think about the potential harm you are flirting with. Do you want to die? Do you know that the abuse of substances can cause disorders, rare disorders? Before using a medication one needs to know what that drug can do to them. If the proper prescribed use of a drug can cause harmful side effects, what can happen if you abuse that medication?

In recent articles, we have shared that the pain pharmaceutical Opana replaced OxyContin because that drug has become so difficult to access. We haven’t heard the last on the OxyContin-Opana issue. Please continue reading.

Join Together, a program of Boston University, advises, “Health officials in Tennessee are reporting cases of a rare blood-clotting disorder in people who injected the painkiller Opana ER (extended release), after crushing the pills.” Of 15 cases linked to IV drug use, 14 of them were directly related to Opana ER. Nobody died, but it can be fatal.

This particular disorder, TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) causes blood clots to form in small veins. Untreated, it can cause death.

Intended for oral use only, Opana ER was changed by the makers so it is more difficult to crush or dissolve for illicit drug use. People who abuse such medications are looking for a euphoric reaction. They want to feel wonderful. The faster the drug hits the brain, the better the high. But what happens when you can’t hit that desired high any longer?

“It is not known why the Opana ER might lead to the blood-clotting disorder,” said Dr. David Kirschke, Deputy State Epidemiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) advises doctors who prescribe Opana, and pharmacists who fill prescriptions for it to tell patients about the risks of the drug when it is used other than as prescribed. In 2012, the CDC declared prescription drug abuse a public health crisis.

Even though OxyContin is more difficult to get at this time, the patent is about to expire, meaning that generic forms of the drug are anticipated.

They are much cheaper and easier to get a hold of. Opana’s patent recently expired and generic equivalents have been released. While Opana is difficult to crush and abuse, that is not the case for the generics. Pharmaceutical companies are fighting to block generic forms of the pain medications because they do not use abuse-resistant technologies.

Prescription painkiller overdoses are at epidemic levels, says the CDC and kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined, having tripled over the past 10 years, meaning that 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers like hydrocodone (Vicodin), methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin) and oxymorphone (Opana). In 2010, one in 20 people in the United States, age 12 and older (12 million people) reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) advises that sales of these drugs to pharmacies and health care providers have increased by more than 300 percent since 1999.

“Prescription drug abuse is a silent epidemic that is stealing thousands of lives and tearing apart communities and families across America,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “…All of us have a role to play. Health care providers and patients should be educated on the risks of prescription painkillers. And parents and grandparents can take time today to properly dispose of any unneeded or expired medications from the home and talk to their kids about the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.”

Twice a year there is a prescription drug take back event in Columbiana County. Unneeded drugs or drugs that have expired may be turned in at one of several sites situated in the county. More information will be forthcoming for the April event, or you can contact Brenda Foor, an education specialist at Family Recovery Center (FRC), at 330-424-0531.

FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. Education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse are offered. For more information, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or by e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.