Oxycodone addiction is a serious problem. It’s one of the most popular prescription drugs to abuse and it’s been at the center of Florida’s war on “pill mills”. Indications are that Floridians are using less of it. But the bad news is that drug related deaths overall are up.
According to the Miami Herald, deaths related to cocaine, heroin, and Fentanyl all rose last year. In Miami-Dade County alone, the number of prescription drug deaths climbed 14 percent. In Broward, they fell slightly.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement used data from medical examiners statewide to come up with the numbers and released a report last week.
Drug-related deaths overall climbed by 134 overall with 9,135 such deaths statewide in 2011. But statewide, the number of those attributed to oxycodone dropped.
Officials are celebrating—seeing it as evidence of their war against pill mills and prescription drug abuse.
“We have so far to go in this fight against drugs, but these numbers to us, in such a short time, are truly remarkable,” said Florida AG Pam Bondi.
But why are we celebrating when the number of deaths climbed? Do officials not realize the very well-publicized formula change by Purdue Pharma (the maker of Oxycodone) is actually driving addicts to use other drugs?
The pharmaceutical giant recently changed their formula to make it harder to abuse. They made it impossible to crush, making it far more difficult for addicts to snort, smoke, or even inject the powder. So, while they made it harder for addicts to abuse Oxycodone, they did nothing to help with the addiction. And all signs point to the fact that these addicts are looking elsewhere for their high.
Oxycodone is an opiate, and even before the formula change, oxy addicts who had developed a serious tolerance were turning to heroin (another opiate) for a cheaper and stronger high.
“it’s just a matter of switching,” said president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators John Burke. “If I’m an addict, I’m going to find a drug that works.”
So, while at first blush it might seem nice that there are fewer oxy deaths, a deeper look reveals there isn’t much to celebrate. The laws and reformulation may have done nothing more than shift addicts to harder and less expensive alternatives.
If you are accused of a drug offense, contact our attorneys today. Whether you use heroin or have a prescription drug problem, you have rights.