In the description of the show, the producers got it absolutely correct when they say that “prescription meds are fast becoming the drug of choice for millions of young Americans, who mistakenly believe them to be safer than street drugs.”
The show covers the plight of two young adults who are “fighting to free themselves from the grip of these potentially lethal substances”, both addicted to forms of narcotic painkillers that have thousands of people trapped by prescription drug addiction, and are among the most abused drugs in the country.
Dana, a 20-year-old from New Jersey who succumbed to prescription drug addiction as a teenager, began using drugs at the age of 12, and by 17 had settled on her drug of choice, Roxicodone, a generically-made form of the narcotic painkiller oxycodone. Roxicodone is designed to have an immediate release for rapid pain relief.
Evan, another 20-year-old, is an audio engineering student from Northern California. Evan experimented with drinking and drugs as a teenager until he tried the narcotic painkiller OxyContin, and immediately made it his drug of choice. OxyContin is a brand name for a time-release painkiller made from oxycodone.
Dana has been in and out of rehab 15 times, and is unable to attend school or hold a job. In the show, we see that she turns to cleaning to take her mind away from using Roxicodone for as many minutes as she can. She is struggling to stay in the halfway house in Florida where her parents have sent her for treatment. But she betrays family and friends, and ultimately herself, trying to escape her prescription drug addiction.
Evan has attended treatment centers in the past, and has been prescribed other drugs to help control his addiction. But he is still haunted by the feeling of escape and comfort that the drug brings him. He seems determined to stay clean, when his girlfriend comes to visit, he is put to the ultimate test, because she is also an OxyContin addict. Evan’s prescription drug addiction pervades every aspect of his life as he struggles to regain a drug-free life.
Roxicodone, OxyContin, and dozens more other forms of oxycodone and hydrocodone have caused overdose deaths or injuries among thousands of young people. OxyContin is routinely abused by crushing the pills to defeat the time-release mechanism, and snorted like heroin or cocaine for instant effect. But oxycodone in any form is extremely addictive, and is so widely abused in some regions it surpasses heroin, morphine and other street drugs in popularity. In the Appalachian regions of the south-east, it has been known for years as “hillbilly heroin”.
Before a narcotic addict can begin rehabilitation, he or she must spend some time in detoxification, called “detox”, during which the body tries to overcome the physical aspects of the prescription drug addiction. Unless the detox is done at a good medical detox facility, it is often so painful that most don’t complete it but return to their use of drugs. Once through that painful and often dangerous withdrawal period, rehab can begin to address the deeper, personal reasons for the addiction.
The only thing we would like to have seen in the show was some information about the advantages of detox protocols designed specifically for someone’s unique DNA and metabolism, which greatly reduce the ill effects of detox. Called medical drug detox, such programs include 24/7 medical supervision to enhance patient safety and recovery.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer who contributes articles on health.