How an Opioid Abuse Prevention Measure Led to Spread of HIV

Opioid Epidemic – How an Opioid Abuse Prevention Measure Led to Spread of HIV

The struggles that America faces with opioid abuse continues as even abuse prevention methods have unforeseen consequences on public health. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimate that around 2.1 million adults in America suffered from prescription pain reliever addiction in 2012. As the Opana opioid pain reliever formula was changed to help prevent abuse through crushing the pills and snorting, addicts found a way to continue the abuse of the substance. By dissolving and injecting the new formula, addicts were able to get their fix but it also opened up new problems of such the sharing needles risks that have led to the spread of HIV.

What is Opana?

Opana is another perception drug in a long list of opioid pain relievers. Opioids are a synthetic version of opiates such as heroin and used in the treatment of pain, such as pain after surgery of chronic back pain. Opana ER is the extended release version of the drug that is meant to work over a 12-hour period, but when abused, the effects are felt all at once. The drug is about twice as powerful as OxyContin – a similar opioid pain reliever.

Opioids work by altering the way the pain and reward centers of the brain works. It causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin that cause a person to feel euphoric and rewarded. At the same time, it blocks receptors that would normally make the person feel pain. However, the effects that are created by opioids are also highly addictive and dependence quickly forms.

The more the person abuses opioids, the more their brain slows down its own natural production of the “feel-good” chemicals, leading to dependence on the substance to feel normal.

How was Opana ER Abuse?

Initially, Opana ER was being abused by crushing the tablets and then snorting the powder. This bypassed the slow-release formulation and gave the full effect of the opioid drug in one go. As reports of abuse of the drug surfaced, the company responsible for the production of Opana, Endo, decided to change the formula to make it harder for people to abuse it with this method.

How Was The New Formula Abused?

When the formula was changed, the many people addicted to the drug tried various ways to get their fix. The drug now had a hard coating to prevent it from being dissolved or crushed. However, addicts found a way to remove the coating and then inject it.  Concerned more about their high, addicts freely share needles used to inject the drug into their system.  Drug use can cause the spread of diseases through the sharing needles risks. This often leads to the spread of HIV.

Due to the change in Opana ER’s formulation, Indiana Scott County saw the largest outbreak of HIV in the county’s history, starting early 2015. It is well-known that drug use can cause the spread of diseases as is the case with heroin users who share their needles. The unintended spread of HIV that the company caused by their choice to change the formational is another story in the opioid crisis that the United States faces.

As the country continues to face ever-growing problems related to prescription pain reliever abuse, rehab centers are ready to assist people with their recovery from addiction. The spread of HIV and other diseases is just one of the risks involved with Opana abuse. Find the help you or someone you love needs by calling WhiteSands Treatment today at (877) 855-3470.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.