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Australia is Facing An Opiate and Oxy Painkiller Epidemic

Australia is facing a major problem with oxycodone prescription medications. It is widely known in the country by the brand name Oxycontin. Oxy use has overtaken heroin to become the most popular injected drug in Australia. Oxycontin is a time release version of oxycodone and it comes in strengths as high as 80mg per pill. In the United States, the pharmaceutical company that makes Oxycontin, changed their formula to make it harder to abuse. The new form of Oxycontin in the US turns into a gel when crushed, making it hard to snort or inject.  The new formula has helped to cut down on Oxy abuse.  Part of Australia's problem with Oxycontin is that the crushable form is still prescribed and widely available.

Oxycontin has a notorious track record of opiate overdoses. Over the past 15 years, the medication has been prescribed for many ailments it was not originally intended for. The medication was first formulated to treat cancer patients who were in severe pain. The ease at which this painkiller is now prescribed has led to many Australian's being prescribed them when not needed.  Addicts find many ways to get prescriptions illegally, including doctor shopping. 

The popularity of Oxycontin can be seen all around the world. There are many prescription pain medications that will help to reduce pain, but few give the euphoric feeling quite like Oxycontin does.  This is what makes these pills so addictive and dangerous. Many abusers crush the medication into a powder. Once this is done, the time release pill has become immediate release. When the powder is snorted through the nasal passages, shot intravenously or swallowed, the abuser will feel a rush of euphoria. Depending on how the drug is administered will depend on the high for the abuser. More abusers opt for injection because it is immediate and powerful, but not long lasting.

While prescription rates for morphine have dropped, oxycodone's rose 152% in the past six years. This proves that this medication is the go-to for many doctors. It has become so popular that when patient's visit their doctors they are requesting the medication by name.  In Australia, the 80mg Oxycontin's sell for $50 a piece on the street. One box of 28 pills will land the patient $1400 on the black market. With the high prices, and high demand, there has been an increase in overdoses and deaths from these powerful narcotics.

The issues that Australia are facing with opiates are identical to those seen in America back in the late 2000's. I see this epidemic becoming a lot worse as more people get hooked on these pills. Many concerned citizens are bringing this issue to the forefront, but it has not received mainstream press as it has here in America. In the future I can see Australia following a lot of the changes that Canada and America have made to help curb the prescription painkiller abues. One of the most important things Australia can do is ban the original form of Oxycontin and switch to the new crush proof version.  Though this will not stop the opiate epidemic, it will help to slow it down.  Hopefully Australia will introduce Prescription Drug Monitoring Systems as well, and provide more education to help reduce opiate abuse.

If you are someone you know is addicted to Opiates, please seek professional help immediately.

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