Illegal Oxycontin Use On The Rise In East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/24/04-Smith County

Illegal Oxycontin Use On The Rise In East Texas

  Two overdoses in Smith County are raising concerns about the availability of a prescription drug called Oxycontin, in East Texas.
  A 19-year-old from Lindale died and another teen was hospitalized after overdoses involving Oxycontin, over the last weekend.
  The drug is a potent pain reliever prescribed to people suffering from chronic pain.
"We're getting in left and right, most of my phone calls 2 years ago were about Xanax or marijuana. Now it's Oxycontin," says Smith County Constable Dennis Taylor.
  According to Taylor, there is a rising street market and higher demand for the drug. Dealers are bringing in thousands of Oxycontin pills to be sold on East Texas streets.
  "We knew it was in Tyler, Longview, Dallas," Taylor said, "now it's in little smaller areas and it's dangerous and the kids don't realize it's prescription drug."
  The drug is most often prescribed to terminally ill cancer patients. Kurt Lorenz at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital says Oxycontin is a potent and often addictive drug. "It is very similar to morphine, a very closely related compound to morphine," he said. "They crush the pills, they give them much larger doses. You can normally get an immediate release form by crushing the pills. This is designed to give over 12 hours. You get that 12 hour dose in 20 minutes."
  The drug is easily available not just on the streets, but on the internet. Type in word "Oxycontin" into any search engine and you'll find hundreds of websites that say they require no prescription to get the drug.
  Lorenz says ordering the drug online is a big risk too many are taking.  "If you're getting it through the internet you may or may not be getting a pure product, but more substantially is you are probably getting it illegally."
  The Smith County Constables and Sheriff's Department are following leads to try and curb the growing trend. But with any drug problem, Constable Taylor says its a work in progress.
"It's always there, it's just never slowed down. We can bust three and five, and more dope dealers come in or five more users."

Story by Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com

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