Opana is the newest prescription painkiller to hit the black market. With potency much higher than even Oxytocin, Opana abuse is a major health threat to the state of Indiana. As many as 55 new cases of HIV in the southeastern counties of the state have been reported by their health department in connection to the intravenous use of the designer drug. The pharmaceutical company that formulated Opana in recent years set out to make opiate abuse harder by making Opana an intravenous drug instead of producing it in pill form. The plan in many ways has backfired. Intravenous drug use is multifaceted in bodily harm. Beyond the typical dangers of overdose when talking about prescription painkillers, the added risk of shared needle use and the contraction of numerous potentially fatal diseases makes for a public health crisis that demands immediate attention.
Medical experts claim that they cannot specifically pinpoint Opana as the reason for the recent HIV outbreak in Indiana, but it is a logical conclusion that there is an absolute link between shared needle use and HIV. Since most users of Opana are from suburban areas and often are not educated on the risks of sharing needles, many believe this might be where the connection to the drug and HIV stem.
Since the 1980s there has been an educational push amongst heroin addicts to not share needles with certain organizations going as far to provide clean needles for users. Since Opana is a new drug and it’s demographic is drastically different than heroin users, the knowledge about the risks of needle sharing amongst its abusers is not widespread. The state’s health services department believes that Opana and the connection to HIV are in the early stages of connection. Many organizations, rehabilitation centers, doctors, and various health departments across the state will have to come together as a coalition to educate Indianans who are most vulnerable and at risk to abuse this drug and contract the HIV virus.
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