Common Halton Street Names: Oxy, Oxy 80, Hillbilly heroin, percs, tic tacs
Although prescription painkillers have legitimate purposes, they are also used recreationally in the Halton Region. If not carefully monitored, opioid abuse can quickly turn into addiction. Opioids commonly used recreationally in Halton are oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. These drugs are extremely powerful and highly addictive. For example fentanyl can be 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Physical dependency to opioids can occur quickly, well before the consumer even realizes it has taken over his or her life.
Although heroin falls within the opioid family, recreational use of prescription medication is more commonly located in the Halton Region. On occasion, the Halton Police receives information of youths experimenting with opioids. Youths can obtain the drugs from the black market or from family member’s medicine cabinets. Since opioids produce a euphoric sensation, abuse can occur leading to an unexpected lifelong addiction.
- Oxycodone: OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Endocet, etc.
- Hydromorphone: Hydromorph Contin, Dilaudid, etc.
Total Seizures (Jan-Jul 2015): 1,172 pills
Opioids are prescribed by licensed medical practitioners to people with acute or chronic pain resulting from disease, surgery or injury. Opioids are also prescribed to people with moderate to severe coughs and diarrhea. Methadone and buprenorphine are opioids that are prescribed to treat addiction to other opioids, such as heroin or oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin).
The use of prescription opioids for other than their medical purpose is considered “abuse.” Much attention is given to the abuse of illegal opioid drugs, such as heroin but some of the most commonly abused opioids are prescription drugs, such as codeine-containing Tylenol (1, 2, 3 and 4), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan), morphine and others.
Because of the risk of abuse, opioids are prescribed cautiously for chronic pain. However, opioids are of particular value in controlling pain in the later stages of terminal illness, when the possibility of addiction is not relevant.
Opioid drugs that are sold on the street may be stolen from pharmacies or from people who have been prescribed the drugs for legitimate purposes.
Although there are a wide variety of methods to consume prescription painkillers the most common methods are: orally, injected snorted, and smoked.
Fentanyl patches can be torn and chewed. Fentanyl gel can be smoked. It only takes a very small amount of Fentanyl to smoke in a glass pipe for example. Because the potency is so high, it is common for individuals to consume too much leading to overdose or death.
The addiction to opioids is so great that peripheral crimes are often associated, such as theft, robbery, fraud, and prostitution.
> Opioids are depressant drugs, which means that they slow down the part of the brain that controls breathing. All opioid drugs are dangerous when taken in large quantities or when taken with other depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Signs of overdose include slow breathing, bluish skin and coma. Death can result, usually because breathing stops. If caught in time, overdose can be treated with drugs such as naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioids, including the effect on breathing.
> People who use opioids regularly for their pleasurable effects soon develop tolerance to these effects, which means they need to use more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. As the amount taken increases, so does the risk of overdose. If people with tolerance stop taking the drug, they lose their tolerance. If they then resume taking the same amount they took before they stopped, the risk of overdose is extreme.
> Some people inject opioids to increase the intensity of the euphoric effect. Using dirty needles and sharing needles carries a high risk of infection and disease (e.g., HIV, hepatitis). When pharmaceutical tablets or capsules are dissolved for injection, non-drug substances contained in these products can permanently damage veins and organs.
> Regular use of large quantities of opioids during pregnancy can increase the risk of premature delivery and infant withdrawal. Pregnant women who are addicted to opioids are treated with the long-acting opioid methadone to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
> Long-term use of opioids can cause constipation, decreased interest in sex, menstrual irregularities and mood swings. Addiction to opioids can have devastating long-term social, financial and emotional effects.