Local doctor sees surprising
increases in OxyContin overdoses
by Misty Volaski
OxyContin. O.C. The "miracle" drug. It's the latest
thing for teens to get high from.
And die from.
However, for many people dealing with severe pain on a regular
basis, OxyContin is the one thing which gets them through each
day. Manufactured by Purdue Pharmaceuticals, OxyContin is a triplicate
drug, meaning it's fairly difficult to get it prescribed and
must go through several channels to get approved.
"It's very closely controlled," said Ojai's Dr. Timothy
Williamson. "You need a special prescription to get it."
And that prescription is getting even more difficult to get lately,
according to Teri Robert of OxyContinInfoCenter.com. Across the
country, pharmacies have stopped carrying the drug for fear of
being robbed. After a pharmacy was robbed in Huntington, Va.,
those with legitimate prescriptions were told not to tell anyone
"who didn't need to know" that they had the drug in
The obsession with OxyContin has completely swept the country,
penetrating even the "safest" of communities - like
Williamson, who has practiced in the valley and has worked in
the Ojai Valley Community Hospital emergency room for the last
25 years, said even Ojai is beginning to have a real problem
"We are seeing a surprising increase in the number of overdoses
from OxyContin (in the emergency room). At least five a month.
Often, it's combined with other things."
Where exactly the Oxycontin is coming from is highly debated.
But regardless of where it's coming from, it's coming fast and
in massive quantities, addicting old and young, male and female,
"(Some) kids are coming into the office for help. There
are lots more that are using than we identify" - perhaps
as many as ten times as those who seek help.
So if this many kids - and adults - are abusing Oxycontin, why
not just take it off the market? There are, after all, several
"I wish we had something to replace it, but nothing is as
effective," Williamson said. "For people who need (this
kind of) pain control, it would be an injustice to take it off
"Coming clean," obviously, is the hard part for addicts.
Williamson said the only realistic thing to do is to get into
a rehabilitation facility to deal with the problem. For those
who do enter rehab, "They feel like their going out of their
minds" and there's nothing they can do about it, Williamson
said. The withdrawal symptoms are not unlike a heroin addict's
withdrawals, which include shakes, sweating, headaches, vomiting
and uncontrollable nervousness.
Long-term studies are not 100 percent conclusive, but Williamson
said that brain damage is a possible - though not likely - side
effect for both legitimate and illegitimate users. For those
who are addicted, he added, the emotional problems are much more
catastrophic than the physical.
"As long as (addicts) come clean, the brain is OK. That's
not to say there's no psychological damage. That goes beyond
the physical damage" and is detrimental to the patient for
years to come.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley
to the news
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It's called OC for out of control
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Girl's path leads from
OxyContin to rehab