Opana, also known as oxymorphone, is an opioid prescription drug used to moderate severe pain and reduce anxiety.
The drug is also used to maintain anesthesia and, since it acts directly on the central nervous system, is classified as an analgesic. Opana abuse has steadily increased in recent years due to its ability to cause euphoria, reduce anxiety, and increase sociability. The effects are short-lived, contributing to a cycle of abuse in order to maintain the effects. While the drug is not as potent as morphine, many combine the drug with alcohol to enhance its effects. Since Opana is an extended-release drug and more potent than OxyContin, the effects of the drug can be overwhelming when used incorrectly.
Opana abuse began to take off in 2010 after OxyContin was reformulated, making it more difficult to snort or inject. Users began exploring alternative prescription drugs that were easier to insufflate or inject. Rural America was hit particularly hard by the rise in popularity of Opana. In addition to the nine deaths linked to Opana overdoses in 2012, at least 26 cases of HIV have been confirmed and linked to misuse of needles filled with Opana. Southeastern Indiana, specifically, has been greatly impacted by the increase in Opana use, with officials reporting the largest HIV outbreak the state has ever experienced.
IV Opana Abuse and HIV
Misuse and sharing of needles contribute to the spread of dangerous and deadly diseases. Those who inject drugs represent approximately eight percent of new HIV cases every year and 15 percent of the total number of HIV cases in the United States. As dependency increases, individuals who abuse Opana are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that may put them at risk for contracting communicable diseases, as well as increasing the likelihood of overdose and severe withdrawal symptoms. Opana can produce feelings of euphoria, drowsiness, and relaxation, and is both physically and psychologically addictive. During withdrawal, individuals may experience nausea, muscle aches, respiratory difficulties, twitches, tremors, and convulsions. If an overdose occurs, individuals may have cold and clammy skin, chest pain, numbness, slowed heart rate, and stupor. An overdose can lead to coma or death.
The makers of Opana have worked to reformulate the drug in order to deter individuals from abusing it, but those who continue using the new formulation risk developing the blood disease thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This condition is characterized by blood clots in small vessels throughout the body which can lead to organ damage. Recent cases of TTP in Tennessee have all been related to the injection of the newly formulated Opana. Symptoms of TTP include abdominal pain, fatigue, and fever.
Danger of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse has increased exponentially in the United States over the past two decades as medications have become more prevalent in American households. Prescription drugs are often cheaper and easier to obtain than other illicit substances, and since they are prescribed by doctors, many falsely believe that they are safer. Opana is incredibly potent and extremely addictive, although many who experiment with it do not realize how potentially deadly it can be.