Opana painkiller abuse common in East Tennessee

Another painkiller is becoming a problem for law enforcement in East Tennessee. It's called Oxymorphone Hydrochloride, or Opana.

This drug is prescribed for people in severe pain, but abusers found another use for it.

It hit the shelves in 2007, and according to Heather Sutton with the Metropolitan Health Commission, Opana is in the top three most abused prescription drugs.

In a span of the last year, Claiborne County narcotics worked 100 drug cases. Almost half of those cases were for Opana, topping the previously popular OxyContin. A detective said they started seeing Opana abuse in September of 2012.

"Its potency is one thing that causes people to start abusing Opana. And also when OxyContin started using their tamper resistant features, people sort of switched over to Opana," said Sutton.

When it comes to drug abusers, there is also another side selling the medication.

Morgan Honeycutt works for Mac's Pharmacy in Knoxville.

"It's one of those medications that they are really after. They are trying to get these prescriptions. They are looking for ways to abuse it and get that high, and the street value has gone up considerably," said Honeycutt.

He said the medication is meant for slow release and taken through a pill form. Abusers use it another way.

"They would try to crush it and heat it up and put it into an injectable form where they can shoot it up through a syringe," said Honeycutt.

Honeycutt said this method can lead to overdose and sometimes death. Opana is prescribed only one month at a time. You take two pills a day when using it correctly.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission holds drug take-backs every few months. That's one way to get drugs that are attractive to criminals and potentially dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands out of your medicine cabinet.


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