Florida’s crackdown on pill mills has reduced the number of narcotic-pushing clinics – that much is certain. But to a degree, the demand for the high of a painkiller has simply shifted – both in terms of the drugs sought and in geographical location.
Some parts of Florida have seen an increase in the use of heroin, a substance startlingly similar to oxycodone, the painkiller abuser’s typical drug of choice. Meanwhile, New Jersey seems to be in the position Florida was in just a few years ago, with law enforcement officials there reporting on the deliberate widespread improper prescription of painkillers.
According to the Tampa Tribune, sharp increases in the use of heroin have been reported in some Florida cities.
“[Oxycontin] is nothing but synthesized heroin,” Sgt. Rick Mills of the Tampa Police Department told the Tribune. Mills added that the medical examiner had told him drug-related deaths had fallen.
The article illustrates that anyone can become addicted to painkillers – not just the poor or disenfranchised.
“It’s everybody,” said Mark Detrio, a detective with the Tampa PD. “You see upper-class people, or college kids who didn’t put two-and-two together.”
Just as drug addicts are finding substitutes for oxycodone, those who would engage in the shady business of pill mills are finding states with lax laws now that Florida has cracked down.
Officials in New Jersey recently completed a two-year investigation into the state’s painkiller trade. Their 74-page report says painkillers and heroin have become prevalent in the state’s suburbs, with even affluent communities seeing a marked increase in drug trade.
In 2011, New Jersey had 1,008 drug-related deaths, an increase of more than 20 percent over 2010. Of those, oxycodone was involved in 337, and heroin was mixed with other drugs was involved in 368.