Prescription drug abuse is the new scourge of rural America. It now leads to more deaths in the United States than heroin and cocaine combined, and rural residents are nearly twice as likely to overdose on pills than people in big cities, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
While methamphetamine addiction has long been associated with small towns, prescription painkillers have overtaken meth as the most abused drugs in places such as southern Indiana, according to local authorities.
Opana is the hot new prescription drug of abuse, sometimes with tragic consequences.
Law enforcement officials are alarmed by the rise of Opana abuse, which they said started after Oxycontin was changed in late 2010 to make that drug more difficult to snort or inject for a heroin-like high. Oxycontin is a brand of oxycodone.
Opana abuse can be deadly because it is more potent, per milligram, than Oxycontin, and users who are not familiar with how strong it is may be vulnerable to overdosing.
Opana, known by such street names as “stop signs,” “the O bomb,” and “new blues,” is crushed and either snorted or injected. Crushing defeats the pill’s “extended release” design, releasing the drug all at once.