Pubdate: Sun, 31 Mar 2002
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2002 The Observer
Author: Maia Szalavitz
Bookmark: (Oxycontin)


You have fallen prey to the lies of American anti-drug propagandists 
('Epidemic fear as "hillbilly heroin" hits UK streets', News, last week).

Oxycodone is considered a moderate opiate - half as strong as heroin, not 
stronger as you state. Oxycontin, when misused, can give a heroin-like high 
because the dose of Oxycodone in Oxycontin is 10 times that in the typical 
tablets people have been getting for dental pain for years without hysteria 
or heightened addiction. Grinding up and snorting or injecting ordinary 
Oxycodone as your article suggests will sorely disappoint thrill-seekers.

Oxycontin is designed as a time-release drug for people in serious pain. 
The fact that some, with encouragement from stories like yours, misuse it 
does not make it a particularly deadly drug. In fact, most of the overdose 
deaths mentioned (and those in general) result not from opiates alone but 
from those drugs in combination with alcohol or other 'downs'. The 
Oxycontin scare in the US is as much a product of the media as it is a 
genuine 'epidemic'; few of the people who became addicted here were taking 
it for legitimate reasons in the first place. Is it really a surprise that 
people who already abuse drugs will seek the latest 'stronger than heroin' 

Maia Szalavitz
New York
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