Hooked on Oxycontin
Parent believes drug addiction at all time high in Conception Bay North
Kim (not her real name) says she has learned more about Oxycontin (the powerful pain killer) and drug addiction in the past few months than she ever thought possible. In January her daughter, 25, admitted she was addicted to Oxycontin.
“At that moment my world came apart. It was as if my heart was ripped from my chest,” says Kim who lives in the Conception Bay North area. “ I never thought this would happen to my child, to my family. My daughter was raised right. She was educated, had a high paying job and never abused. She just didn’t fit the bill or my idea of what caused a person to become an addict. I couldn’t figure out how this happened to her.”
Kim says she saw the signs and suspected her daughter of having a drug problem long before her fears were confirmed.
“ She’s a professional and makes about $100,000 a year, but never ever had two cents to rub together. I couldn’t help but wonder where all the money was going.
She was going through $ 700 to $1,000 a week.”
Her daughter’s job required her to travel a fair bit, so it took Kim a while to spot the symptoms.
“ The signs were there though, a neglected appearance, poor self image, violent outbursts, weight loss, slurred speech, skin abrasions and red, glassy eyes,” says Kim. “My daughter didn’t have them all, but she went from taking care of her self, being particular about her appearance to being untidy. She was also a bit of a health buff and exercised faithfully, but gave all that up. She stopped eating, lost a fair bit of weight and looked pretty gaunt. All parents really need to look for the signs,” she warns.
Kim’s daughter never thought she would become an addict.
“She said most of her friends were doing drugs and taking Oxycontin and she just didn’t think she would get addicted,” says Kim. “She thought she could just dabble with it, just take it when she was out partying and then leave it, but that’s not how Oxycontin works. Oxycontin is not a drug that you can experiment with. It’s one of the most addictive drugs available today.”
Kim tried to get her daughter into the methadone treatment clinic in St. John’s, but the waiting list was too long.
“At this moment there’s about a seven or eight month wait to see a doctor who can refer an addict to the program,” says Kim. “ Then you have to meet the criteria for the program and medication. That takes months as well.”
Methadone, known as juice or meth, belongs to the opioid family of drugs. It is most commonly used to treat dependence on other opioid drugs such as heroin, codeine, morphine and Oxycontin.
Out of desperation for her daughter, Kim attempted to buy methadone off the streets in Conception Bay. However the drug dealers would not sell to her.
“ That’s how bad the situation got,” she explains. “It’s not something I am proud of, but my daughter needed methadone so badly to help her kick the damn Oxycontin habit I would have done anything to help her and I think most other parents would have done the same. The dealers didn’t trust me I guess because they refused to let me buy.”
Kim’s daughter is currently trying to kick the habit on her own.
“ It’s a real struggle. She keeps falling off the wagon,” says Kim. “ I keep telling her not to lie, to be upfront and tell me if she is using the Oxycontin and usually she does. I expect it is going to be like this for a long while yet. We have a long road ahead of us yet. The reality is she will always be an addict now. She’ ll always have to fight the urge to take Oxycontin.”
The distraught mother of a 25-year-old woman addicted to Oxycotin says she believes her daughter’s addiction is indicative of a huge crisis that exists in most schools and towns across the province.
“ Young people who are becoming addicted to the drug are not just from low income families,” says Kim, who asked not to be identified by her real name. “ Their parents, like me, are professionals. These young addicts are from middle to upper income families, don’t want for anything, are often getting good grades in school and by all appearances are seemingly well adjusted kids. But school and the world is a tough place and everyone wants to fit in and that can sometimes lead to them using Oxycontin and other pills.”
This past January Kim’s daughter finally admitted she was addicted to Oxycontin. Since then Kim has been trying to get her daughter proper treatment. She says it takes months just to get an assessment by a specialized doctor.
“At this moment there’s about a seven or eight month wait to see a doctor who can refer an addict to the program,” she says. “ Then you have to meet the criteria for the program and medication. That takes months as well.”
Kim believes Oxycontin is the pill of choice in the Conception Bay North area.
“There are hundreds of young people in this area hooked on Oxycontin. Most will never admit to being a user until they hit rock bottom, which usually means they run out of money and can’t get the drugs. I’ve had parents tell me their kids get paid on Friday and are broke by Sunday. The drug is so addictive. Many of these young people will even steal from their own families so they can keep buying the pills. This is a serious issue and has been going on in this area for years, everyone knows about it and it’s getting worse.”
Kim says there are numerous known drug dealers in the Conception Bay North area who are making a fortune off young people.
“ The Oxycontin pills sell anywhere from $20 to $40 a pill. Young people are crushing them, ingesting them, snorting or diluting in water and injecting them for a heroin like high,” says Kim.
According to Kim there are at least 50 young people in the area, who are being treated by Methadone for their Oxycontin addiction.
Methadone is a powerful medication that belongs to a group of drugs called opioids. It is most commonly used by specialized doctors to treat dependence on other opioid drugs such as Codeine, Morphine, Percocet, Heroin and Oxycontin.
When taken as prescribed, Methadone is safe. It doesn’t cause a person to become high and stops an opioid withdrawal for a day.
However when Methadone is taken by someone it is not prescribed for, it can be very dangerous.
“Some of the young people in the area who are being treated for their Oxycontin addiction by Methadone are selling their Methadone to buy Oxycontin,” says Kim. “I’m not just speculating here. I’ve seen this with my own eyes and some of them have admitted it to me.”
Kim says Methadone treatments are a more of a band-aid solution.
“People can be on it for years,” she says. “All the addiction councilors I have spoken to over the past few months recommend detox for treating an Oxycontin addiction. But unfortunately there are no centres in this area and very little help or treatment programs available in the province.”
When it comes to drug busts Kim feels police officers are often missing the target.
“ They’re taking marijuana, a recreational drug, off the street and not catching the pill pushers. I know who the dealers are around here as do most other people. The dealers hang out in the same places all the time and could care less who knows they’re selling. I’d rather my child smoke a joint every now and then than to be addicted to these pills and there’s a good many parents who would agree with me.”
Kim says there are far more Oxycontin and other pills being sold in the area than marijuana.
“Many people have told me they’ve driven all around the bay and couldn’t buy a joint anywhere, but couldn’t count the times they were offered Oxycontin, Percocets and Ritalin pills or cocaine and crack.
Her daughter’s Oxycontin addiction has made Kim realize just how serious the drug issue is across the province.
“ I’ve been speaking to numerous councilors in addiction centres from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and as soon I mention I have a daughter who is addicted to Oxycontin, their response is oh you’re from Newfoundland because that’s where most of their Oxycontin addicts are from,” she says.