The Opiate Cycle, Part 2

In part 1 of How One Nashville Resident Beat Opiate Addiction, we read about what many people call, the “Opiate Cycle”. The Opiate Cycle happens when people with good intentions, and often no previous signs of addiction, begin taking opiate medications (Oxycodone, OxyContin, etc) usually prescribed for pain relief, post surgery, root canal, etc., and are then required to taper off, or are cut-off completely. Typically suffering from withdrawals, and having no alternatives left left to obtain the narcotic drugs they’ve become addicted to, they go to the one place where anyone can find drugs – The streets of Nashville.

Current Street Prices for Narcotic Pills
At first, most addicts go to the streets seeking the medicines they’ve already been taking. Typically, these are pills, like OxyContin, oxycodone, roxycodone, and other pain-relieving narcotics. This is where things get expensive for the addict. Current street prices for the most common narcotic medications are at about $ per mg. Meaning, a 30mg toxycodone tablet is probably going to cost around $30. As with all capitalism, people often buy more than one at a discount, of up to 25% depending on volume. Yet, $1 per mg is a good starting point for street narcotics.

Say Hello to Opana
Opana (aka: Oxymorphone Hydrochloride) is quickly becoming the more affordable alternative to oxycodone and especially OxyContin. OxyContin is a slow release drug that is compounded in a way that makes it very difficult (not impossible, however) to crush, snort, and/or inject. Opana, on the other hand, is nearly twice as potent, is fast-acting, and can be snorted and/or injected with minimal effort. And, Opana’s street price is about 60% that of other narcotic pain pills on the street. That not only means it’s a cheaper alternative to people seeking pills in the Oxy-line, but also more dangerous since people are often unaware of just how potent Opana pills actually are.

Getting Back to Normal?
For a while, buying the pills (or, a cheaper replacement like Opana) they become accustomed to whatever works for them and keeps them high, or at least out of withdrawal. Typically, they still have their jobs along enough income / cash to pay rent, put food on the table, and buy enough pills to satisfy their addiction. But then, a change occurs. Typically, this is a consequence of taking drugs like losing their job, their street dealer running out of stock, increasing their dose over time, and in-turn they’ve not only increased the cost of their daily addiction, but are also cut-off due to lack of drug availability, or shortage of cash. Instead of spending $30-$60 per day on street pills, they’ve ramped-up their addiction, sometimes to over $200 per day. These addicts are literally hanging on by a thread. Without their daily fix, they can and do completely unravel in only a few hours.

Heroin – Cheaper, Stronger, and Far More Dangerous
Eventually, either costs or availability becomes an issue. They run out of cash, or their dealer runs out of stock. Having no other options, they resort to the cheapest, most effective means of obtaining the narcotic high they become accustomed to – Heroin..

Heroin is readily available on the streets of Nashville. According to recent article published by news provider WKRN, heroin abuse nearly doubled in less  than two years. The cost of 1g of heroin is between $15 and $25 dollars. The effects last for up to six hours, and it can be snorted, as well as injected.

Sadly, heroin is the last stage for an addict. There is no other option past this one.

Why do People Resort to Heroin?
To get rid of their withdrawals, of course.
People resort to heroin due to it being readily available, and relatively cheap. It satisfies the cravings for narcotics, and keeps people out of withdrawals.

Just how bad are withdrawals from narcotics? The best description I’ve heard yet is from a friend in Nashville who describes going through withdrawals like this:

“Withdrawal feels like your body is trying to come apart from the inside out. You can’t eat, sleep, sit still, pay attention, go to work or anything else that requires mental or physical activity. It’s an all-encompassing physical and mental breakdown that feels like death, and you’re willing to do anything, and I mean anything under the sun to make it go away. I drank all of my son’s codeine cough medicine, asked neighbors whom I barely know if they had any hydrocodone laying around, begged my mother-in-law for some of her pain pills, drove across town to get 1 small pill from a friend, and that’s all within an hour on just one day of withdrawals. I didn’t care what people thought of me, nor the consequences. All I could think about was not feeling the withdrawals any more. Finding opiates was the only solution I could think of and nothing else mattered – NOTHING.”

Talk to anyone who’s experienced withdrawal and they’ll agree with him. Withdrawal is why people break into pharmacies, steal from their friends and family, and do many other insane things they would never do in a right state of mind. The only mission the brain can focus on while in withdrawals is finding relief. People in withdrawal are not in a “normal” mental or physical state by any means. That’s why friends and family are often shocked at the Jekyll and Hyde behaviors addicts often display.

Be sure to follow us to read part 3 of “The Opiate Cycle” here at Thanks for reading 🙂

Leave a Comment