Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hooked: Canada's painkiller problem

From the Globe and Mail:
Janey Nagle wasn't looking for kicks when she began courting a drug habit. The Percocets her doctor prescribed were the only thing that could take away the excruciating pain that lingered a decade after a car accident threw her into a windshield with such force that her face left an imprint in the glass.

For the first two years, the painkillers did the trick. The Perth, Ont., mother of four was able to work and look after her family. But after a while she couldn't get through the day without the pills' euphoric effect, and that demanded higher and higher doses.

Fearful her doctor would cut her off, Ms. Nagle looked elsewhere. She spent hundreds of dollars a day on prescription drugs bought off the street, primarily from friends and acquaintances. She photocopied her prescriptions and filled each one repeatedly at pharmacies around Perth, Kingston and Smiths Falls.

“It was a horrible, panicked feeling every morning when I woke up,” says Ms. Nagle, now 43. She remembers the daily dilemma: “How am I going to get them? Where am I going to get the money?”

This went on for years before she was caught at a drugstore and charged with forgery.

Like Ms. Nagle, Canada has fallen quietly into the grip of a pill problem in the past decade. Medications designed to treat pain and anxiety are creating legions of accidental addicts from coast to coast. In Regina, it's morphine; in Toronto, OxyContin and Percocet; in Edmonton, OxyContin, various benzodiazepines and the whole Tylenol gamut. ...more

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