Pubdate: Sun, 09 Nov 2008
Source: Morganton News Herald, The (NC)
Copyright: 2008 Media General Inc.
Author: Sharon McBrayer
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


Morganton - (Part 2 of 2) OxyContin was the drug that took the life 
of Pamela Logsdon's son in July. Abuse of the drug, a powerful 
painkiller, has been a problem in Burke County for a long time, 
according to Rick Hasson with the Burke County Narcotics Task Force.

Hasson said people were overdosing on the drug left and right a few 
years back. That's because the drug is prepared for timed release, he 
said, but people were crushing it and, when they do that, the entire 
dose rushes into their bodies, Hasson said.

"We were seeing people taking three or four at a time," Hasson said. 
"People think, 'It's prescription drugs, it's not going to hurt me.'" 
People addicted to OxyContin appear to be willing to do just about 
anything to get it. People will steal it from family members with 
legitimate prescriptions, Hasson said. Some will forge prescriptions. 
Some go from doctor to doctor to get prescriptions.

Hasson said people also can buy OxyContin from some people with a 
legitimate prescription, but who live on a fixed income and sell it 
to make some extra money. Addiction knows no age limit. Hasson said 
the narcotics task force has dealt with kids in middle school and 
80-year-olds. However, he added, older abusers are few and far between.

Prescription drugs are getting to be as much of a problem as illegal 
street drugs, Hasson said.

Lately, he said, people have turned to other strong painkillers for a 
high - hydrocodone, Xanax, Vicodin and others.

Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic 
proportions, according to Scott K. Proescholdbell at the N.C. 
Department of Health and Human Services. He said states across the 
nation are trying to get a handle on the problem.

In 2004, North Carolina started a collaborative leadership committee 
to implement the recommendations of the state's Task Force to Prevent 
Deaths from Unintentional Drug Overdoses. The task force, created in 
2002, looked at ways to prevent and reduce the number of deaths from 
unintentional overdoses of illicit and licit drugs.

 From the task force came a leadership team that monitors 
unintentional drug overdoses, develops programs to try to prevent 
unintentional drug overdoses and protects the legitimate use of 
controlled substances in the medical practice, according to a 2004 
release from the state. According to a state report, 307 people in 
North Carolina died in 2007 from an unintentional methadone overdose; 
49 from heroin; 242 from other opioids such as OxyContin and related 
oxycodones; 91 from other synthetic narcotics; and 216 from cocaine.

According to the leadership team's estimate, Burke County in 2006-07 
had 19 to 27 poisoning deaths that might be related to drug 
overdoses. Poisoning deaths with undetermined causes are included in 
the numbers.
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