To the Editor:
An important concern missing from the increasing attention paid to abuse of the powerful painkiller OxyContin is the treatment needs of the abuser.
Whether or not Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the drug (news article, Aug. 13), speeds up development of a painkiller like OxyContin that would contain an antagonist to combat abuse, it will not help the thousands of people already addicted to its heroin-like high.
The rapidity with which this drug has infiltrated communities has some similarities to the start of the crack-cocaine epidemic in the early 1980’s, when treatment programs scrambled to provide services.
Odyssey House has successfully treated heroin and cocaine addicts for nearly 35 years. While OxyContin must now be added to the list of destructive drugs of abuse, the public should know that effective treatment is available.
President, Odyssey House
New York, Aug. 14, 2001