Hooked on Oxycon­tin

Par­ent be­lieves drug ad­dic­tion at all time high in Con­cep­tion Bay North

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

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.”

Methadone pro­gram

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.

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