Monday, March 13, 2006

OxyContin Gaining Popularity Among Abusers

WBAY - ABC Green Bay

Green Bay Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Walgreens drug store. It happened last night on East Mason Street. Police say a man walked in, handed the pharmacist a note demanding OxyContin, then showed a handgun. Police believe they found the same handgun outside the store in the parking lot. They're now hoping surveillance video will help them identify the suspect.

The theft at the Walgreens is the second OxyContin robbery in our area in the past week. Last Monday, a man walked into the Osco Drug on Velp Avenue in Howard. That suspect also handed the pharmacist a note demanding OxyContin and showed a handgun.

"It's a narcotic that's often prescribed for patients with chronic pain or significant pain, orthopedic injuries, that sort of thing," says Dr. Cory Vogel at Aurora BayCare.

It's not a new drug, but the narcotic is gaining more and more popularity among abusers.

"The euphoria associated with it, it's longer acting. It will last twice as long as the old standard pain medications and there are multiple ways you can take it," says Dr. Vogel.

Doctors say people who abuse OxyContin are either taking the tablets orally, crushing it and snorting the powder, or in some cases, injecting it directly into their veins. But the high from OxyContin isn't the only reason why it's becoming more popular.

"They're maybe getting a dollar a milligram, so OxyContin tablets may be 10, 20, 30, 40, up to 80 milligrams a piece. If you're taking several of those a day, you can imagine the street value is pretty significant," says Dr. Vogel.

Doctors say OxyContin isn't something to mess around with. In addition to the possibility of becoming dependent on the drug, an overdose of OxyContin can also cause an altered mental status and respiratory depression.


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