The OxyContin Generation

Unlike most “gen­er­a­tions” which seg­re­gate based on a slice of the demo­graphic, I’d say the Oxy­Con­tin Gen­er­a­tion started in the late 1990s, includes every­body from near — teens to senior cit­i­zens, includes all races, all parts of the coun­try, and con­tin­ues today.  You might give it a dif­fer­ent name today — espe­cially since Oxy­Con­tin was refor­mu­lated and made more dif­fi­cult to abuse — but whether we rebrand it as the Vicodin gen­er­a­tion, the oxy­codone gen­er­a­tion… it’s all the same.

Prior to the 1990s, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal opi­oid abuse was a known prob­lem, for sure, but the major opi­oid abuse epi­demic in the United States involved heroin.  For lots of rea­sons, both local to the United States (push for chronic pain enhance­ments, relax­ation of state boards of med­i­cine in their view of “over­pre­scrib­ing”) as well as geopo­lit­i­cal (believe it or not, the Tal­iban had a sharp role in reduc­ing the world’s sup­ply of opium/heroin), the drug of abuse pat­tern in the United States shifted quite dra­mat­i­cally from ille­gal opi­oids like heroin to sundry legal opi­oids like Oxy­Con­tin.  Oxy­Con­tin took parts of the east­ern United States by storm in the late 1990s, even earn­ing the name Hill­billy Heroin because of its surge of pop­u­lar­ity in Appalachia.

So, what are we left with now?  An epi­demic of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal abuse that finds

Here’s an arti­cle from the NY Times that looks at how the bat­tle is being played out one patient at a time.  I like this arti­cle, because it focusses on the group caught in the cross­fire between an out — of — con­trol drug epi­demic and the vul­ner­a­ble patient pop­u­la­tion it’s created.

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