OxyContin Abuse Strikes Lamorinda Area

Caroline Cook and Caroline Cook

Possessions and sales of narcotic pain relievers circulate through local high schools

Word on the street is that OxyContin has hit Lamorinda high schools.

OxyContin, formally known as Oxycodone, is categorized as a narcotic pain reliever, similar to morphine. The drug is commonly known as “Oxycotton” and costs a dollar a milligram, according to Web MD. When taken in pill form, as intended, OxyContin is a slow-release narcotic, prescribed for severe arthritis, sickle cell diseases, pain caused by cancer, and nerve damage. When purchased for non-medicinal purposes on the street, OxyContin is crushed and ingested and is said by users to have a more powerful effect than Heroin.

In the last year, possession and visual sales of OxyContin have increased in both Moraga and Orinda said Officer Kevin Mooney of the Orinda Police Department.

“We started seeing more juveniles in the possession of and involved in the sales of OxyContin as well as Ecstasy,” Mooney said.  “I’ve been working here for 10 years, and it’s rare to see OxyContin in the area because it’s not the typical drug. We usually find marijuana, Ecstasy, and even cocaine on some occasions.”

The National Drug Intelligence Center, reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, indicates that nearly one million U.S. residents aged 12 and older used OxyContin nonmedically at least once in their lifetime. In addition, four percent of high school seniors in the United States abused the drug at least once in the past year, reported the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey.

According to Mooney, in typical possession cases, kids are found smoking marijuana and concealing OxyContin in prescription medication bottles. First, officers detect the smell of marijuana coming from a car, then walk over to investigate. Often a pill bottle is found with the label torn off, and OxyContin is found inside.

With regards to consequences, Mooney emphasizes the harshness of the criminal system versus the juvenile system, in addition to the effects of OxyContin addiction.

“Going through the judicial system can really jeopardize one’s plans to go to college, play sports, have a scholarship etc.,” Mooney said. “Some kids don’t realize that even though they’re in high school, if they are 18 they have to go through the adult criminal system, which is a lot harsher than the juvenile system.”

OxyContin abusers risk long-term physical dependence and addiction as well as withdrawal symptoms if they cease using the drug. Such symptoms associated with OxyContin dependency include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements. Abusers who inject the drug also put themselves at a greater risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne viruses. Mooney said many are mistakenly under the impression that they will get “high” from OxyContin, and then feel fine after they stop taking it.

“The real point of the whole thing with this drug is that it is highly addictive and can affect one’s family and friends as well,” Mooney concludes. “People here need to know that addiction prevents one from functioning in school or at work and has a serious impact on their life.”