Oxycontin abuse and distribution has become of epidemic proportions, not only in the Pensacola and Northwest Florida area, but Florida as a whole as well as in most places in the nation. Oxycontin is in the class of drugs called “opiates,” which are considered highly addictive. Often times, addiction experts state, that people who have permanent injuries are prescribed less strong pain killers and then graduate to stronger drugs such as oxycodone or oxycontin after they have become addicted to this class of opiates. Oxycontin was originally created in 1996 to assist people who were incurring substantial, chronic pain. Many cancer patients have been prescribed Oxycontin. Doses come in varying strengths to deal with what would otherwise be unbearable, sometimes end of life pain the patient otherwise would experience. It is a good drug if taken as prescribed for people who have severe chronic pain.
However, for the last ten years has been abused in several different ways. It’s been abused and distributed improperly not only by doctors, who sometimes over prescribe it, but also by people who become addicted to pain killers, often time even starting with something less strong, such as percocet, Lortab, or other opiate medication. Often times, opiate addiction, including oxycontin addiction, can lead to heroin addiction because if someone who is addicted to opiates cannot obtain an opiate drug, they can obtain a similar physical effect from heroin. (And also keep from becoming extremely ill). Addicted people can take copious amounts of oxycontin, or roxycontin, which is basically oxycontin but is immediate acting, in such amounts that would kill a person who has not built a tolerance to the drug, which inevitably happens. (Oxycontin is a time release drug; some abusers will often crush it and snort it, smoke it, or reduce it to liquid and inject it directly into their veins).
There are two very different circumstances under which opioid analgesic medications are used inappropriately even if prescribed by a doctor. First, there are some licensed physicians who have simply ended their legitimate practices and are creating bogus pain management clinics, at which prescriptions are sold with no pretense of quality care and not in compliance with the statutory "standard of care" which applies to physicians. These physicians are being prosecuted, in most cases by the federal government, however state court cases exist in smaller numbers. Dr. Graves of Pensacola and Pace, Florida was prosecuted in state court in Milton, Florida many years ago and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. These classes of cases always involved "distribution of controlled substances resulting in death." Someone has overdosed, died, and the government's theory is the doctor prescribed the pain killer not in accord with the "standard of care" necessary for this drug to be prescribed. These prosecutions have resulted in some doctors not prescribing the drug even though it is the drug that should be prescribed. Second, there are compassionate and caring physicians who are periodically duped into prescribing opiates for addicts or dealers, believing these people to be legitimate patients who need pain management, and who arguably don't breach the standard of care for prescribing these drugs. Law enforcement authorities indicated that the effective prosecution of the first group is difficult, because the offenders claim to be within the second group.