Better OxyContin Leads to Worse Heroin Epidemic


The conventional wisdom on the opioid crisis is that prescription drug dependency was a major factor behind the surge of addictions and overdoses.

This belief was challenged by studies demonstrating that prescription drug problems from the 1990s and 2000s were fading before the current opioid crisis began, and the real problem today is with street drugs like heroin and fentanyl. New research highlights a very sharp dividing line between the earlier pill problem and today’s drug crisis: OxyContin was reformulated in 2010 to cut down on abuse, so addicts turned to heroin.

According to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the border between the two drug crises is as plain as day. OxyContin, perhaps the most widely abused of the opioid painkillers, was altered in 2010 to make it more difficult for abusers to break the pills down and inject or snort the powder.

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