Opana abuse on the rise in rural areas

Opana abuse on the rise in rural areas

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Prescription pain-med abusers are flocking to a new powerful drug called Opana.

It's a potent opioid painkiller known as Oxymorphone and it's prescribed to people with severe chronic pain, such as cancer patients, but it has also become the drug of choice for prescription pill abusers.

Texas Tech Pharmacist Jeanie Jaramillo says, "It's a very heavy narcotic and those are the desired ones."

Its' abuse has become rampant, especially in rural areas.

LaViza Matthews with Impact Futures explains, "It's so easy to get in small towns, a lot easier than cocaine."

In fact, prescription pill abuse has surpassed methampethamine use in these places.

Pill mills, dirty doctors, and those in desperate need of money, are giving the stuff out like candy, and don't forget the easy access to your medicine cabinet.

But the potent drug is proving to be deadly.

Matthews explain, "When you're putting something in your body and you don't know what it's going to do to you, because the doctor didn't tell you what it was going to do to you, than, you're taking a huge chance."

Jaramillo adds, "It's very dangerous for someone who has never taken the drug. It's kind of like Fentanyl. If you have someone who is naive to that drug, and they take it for the first time, it can kill them."

That's because this drug designed for people who need pain medication around the clock, is easy to overdose on.

Jaramillo says, "If we have abusers who are using it and they're crushing it, they're actually destroying that extended release mechanism, so if they then take the drug, it releases all of that at once, instead of a 24 hour period."

Which can quickly result in respiratory depression, followed by death.

Even if the pill is not crushed before taken, it's more potent per milligram than Oxycontin.

The manufacturer is working to make the medication more resistant to abuse with a new formulation that is more difficult to crush.