Heroin Epidemic: Reason #3 – Blame the Internet

There are many reasons why we have a heroin/opiate epidemic and plenty of blame to go around. In the last couple of weeks, we have blamed the doctors and blamed the patients and in time we will blame the pharmaceutical companies and public officials and the war in Afghanistan and failed policies and …

But today I want to focus simply on the role of the internet to explain how easy it is to get prescription drugs without a doctor’s approval. All one needs to do to fully understand the intricacy of the internet business of selling pharmaceutical drugs is to go to StreetRx.com.

“StreetRx.com gathers user-submitted information on street prices of diverted prescription drugs. Visitors can anonymously view, post and rate submissions in a format that offers price transparency to an otherwise opaque black market, while providing a novel data set for public health surveillance.” http://www.radars.org/home2/programs/streetrx

Sourcing Street Drugs Online Addiction on Trial

The detail of the information is quite revealing as to the black market sales of medications that are purchased to “get high” or to offset withdrawal symptoms or to self-medicate for a variety of reasons. Here is a sampling of the information one might find on the internet:

  •  $60 Reasonable OxyContin (hard to crush) 60 mg Hartford, CT
  • $25 Cheap OxyContin (old OC-crushable) 20 mg Wiscasset, ME
  • $3.75 Reasonable Methadone 10 mg Hartford, CT
  • $15 Pricey Oxycodone 15 mg Burlington, VT
  • $3 Overpriced Oxycodone 5 mg Providence, RI
  • $10 Overpriced Dilaudid 2 mg Worcester MA

So there you have it – Reason #3 for the Heroin Epidemic is the ease by which one can illicitly purchase mind altering drugs with just a simple click of the mouse. As a result, our kids and our neighbors can easily get hooked on pharmaceutical pain (opiate) pills and then many will switch to heroin (a first cousin to morphine and other opiates) because the heroin of today is so cheap and so pure (you can snort it –no needles needed!)

Wipe out all your past visions of what a heroin addict looks like. It has become a white suburban disease and women in their 20’s and 30’s are among the most rapidly increasing group of heroin users. But Reason #4 “Oxycontin Reconstitution” and Reason # 5 “War in Afghanistan” are both related to the heroin epidemic and will be the topics in the upcoming weeks.

Until then, I hope you enjoy listening in to Adam’s telephone call to Aunt Betty from Addiction on Trial.

Adam’s next call was to Aunt Betty. He knew that this call would be the most difficult…

“Hello Betty, it’s Adam.”

“I know it’s you, Adam. You don’t think I recognize your voice? How are you? My goodness, we haven’t spoken in almost a year.”

“I’m OK, and I’m sorry that I haven’t been better about keeping in touch. How are the kids and Carl doing?” …

Betty continued, “Adam, are you really OK?” The compassion in Betty’s voice transmitted over the phone lines.

“Betty, I have some . . . ” Adam paused and took a deep breath, followed immediately by a stuttering exhale “ . . . horrible news.”

“Is Jimmy OK?” Betty blurted out, fearing the worst.

“No, I mean yes, Jimmy’s OK. I mean he’s not sick.” Adam knew that Betty was really asking if Jimmy was alive. She did not need to use the word “dead” for Adam to know what she was really asking. Betty always worried that drugs would end up killing Jimmy, one way or another.

Adam continued, “Jimmy’s in jail. He was arrested for possession of drugs. But now they are trying to pin a murder on him, but there’s no proof, and well, it’s really a case of mistaken identity.” Adam tried to ground his runaway emotions, but with a trembling tone he blurted out what he so desperately wanted to believe. “Jimmy had nothing to do with it!”…

Adam’s anxious moment gave Betty the opening she needed. “Adam, how can I help? And don’t lie to me. We both know that just because Jimmy may not have intended to do anything bad, well, you know what I am saying. When people are high on drugs, accidents happen and sometimes it looks like it wasn’t an accident.”