OxyContin abuse on rise locally

By Staff
EVIDENCE ROOM n Law enforcement officials say the possession, sale and abuse of OxyContin is on the rise nationwide. These pink 20-milligram tablets and yellow 40-milligram tablets were confiscated locally by law enforcement officers. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star.
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 14, 2001
For several months, OxyContin abuse has made national news, and Lauderdale County is not immune. The illegal possession and sale of the synthetic narcotic is on the rise in East Mississippi, surpassing other commonly abused prescription drugs.
Capt. Leonard Harrison of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics' Meridian District office said his agents first encountered the drug in Carthage about a year ago.
Most offenders are getting the drug from doctors who are prescribing it for alleged medical problems, he said, which is the case with most pharmaceutical drug abuse. The problem has made doctors cautious, and legitimate prescriptions harder to come by.
Dilaudid is another pharmaceutical drug on the street. Typically prescribed to terminally ill patients with severe pain, the drug comes in one-, two-, three- and four-milligram tablets, Harrison said.
Its price of 10-12 years ago $85-$90 per tab has remained steady, he said, and while agents still see it on the streets, it's not as prevalent as OxyContin.
Other abused pharmaceuticals include Methadone, which is a prescribed maintenance drug to help people shake narcotic addictions, and tranquilizer drugs such as Xanex and Valium.
OxyContin is cheaper on the street than Dilaudid, with the statewide average street value at $20-$25 per tab and agents paying as much as $40 for one locally, Harrison said.
Frank Altieri, acting program manager for the MBN's Pharmaceutical Diversion Unit in Jackson, said when law enforcement officials first encountered the drug in the Northeast in the late 1990s, it sold for $1 per milligram. More is available on the street now, and it sells for 45 cents per milligram or less.
Harrison said pharmaceutical drugs are a bigger problem than people realize.
Fighting the drug for law enforcement officials often means checking pharmaceutical records, monitoring known abusers and relying on tips from pharmacists or doctors. Agents catch many offenders after they've gotten the prescription written, sometimes at the pharmacy as they try to get it filled.
Harrison said a conviction for illegal possession of one dosage unit carries a one- to four-year sentence. A conviction of illegal sale, or possession with intent to sell, can result in a sentence of up to 30 years.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

Galleries

PHOTOS: Phil Campbell High School students graduate

Franklin County

NEMCC announces more than 400 to spring vice president’s list

Franklin County

UNA releases spring dean’s, president’s lists

News

Roxy holds June 15 concert, plans other events

Franklin County

Free summer meal program available at Franklin County Schools

News

PHOTOS: Red Bay High School graduates celebrate

x