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Action Needed to Reverse Tide of Deadly Opiate Epidemic

Daily Advertiser - Action needed to reverse tide of deadly opiate epidemic

PAIN shoots through their back and pinballs down their legs.

Sweat streams from their faces and their stomachs churn like washing machines.

Sleep is a distant memory but the nightmare is real.

Opiate withdrawal is as ugly as it gets, body, mind and soul locked in a torture cell until cravings subside.

The battle to break free from the chokehold of drugs like Oxycontin and Fentanyl is a war with yourself.

Cold turkey is an uncomfortable place for a body conditioned to the numbing calm of opiates each day for years, and so it is proving for hundreds of locals.

While the rise of the evil drug ice has monopolised headlines and news bulletins, drugs like Oxycontin are insidiously drawing in more users.

The powerful painkiller is both legal and widely available.

Every day, doctors prescribe it to locals grappling with excruciating pain, the vast majority of them legitimate users.

Abuse, however, is inevitable.

Users can buy the 10mg version of the drug on prescription for less than $1 a tablet but can sell it on the black market for $1 a milligram.

For a genuine pain sufferer on Centrelink benefits, the lure of a quick buck can be too much.

Illegal users commonly crush the drug down and inject it to heighten the buzz.

Make no mistake though, the victims of this drug are not just junkies.

g They are middle-aged, genuine users who get hooked on a drug that is one-and-a-half times stronger than heroin.

Overdose deaths are frighteningly common.

Perhaps its widespread abuse is linked to the fact it is legal and is thus deemed “safe”.

Regardless, we must act and act swiftly.

A critical part of the puzzle is cracking t down on “doctor shopping”.

Only by creating a real-time database for opiate prescriptions can authorities hope to put a dent in the black market.

The law, too, must treat those found to be illegally dealing Oxycontin the same way as those dealing “harder” drugs.

The flashing red lights are everywhere.

And unless strong action is taken, the senseless loss of life will continue.

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