The Opioid epidemic has its roots in the availability of the highly concentrated prescription painkiller, Oxycontin, made available in the United States in 1996. This pharmaceutical drug has chemical properties similar to heroin, and like heroin, physical dependence can develop quickly.
Opioid users often report the onset of their opioid addiction with Oxycontin use. On the streets, OxyContin sold for $1 per mg. (80 mg. =$80). Over time, as tolerance increased, so did the need for more pills, and crushing/ snorting was often used to enhance the effects. The high cost led many to thievery, and cheaper alternatives such as Vicodin, Percocet and Heroin (snortable and 80 to 90% pure).
Currently there is an opioid epidemic across the country. Young people and those predisposed to addiction are highly susceptible. Many begin experimenting with painkillers between the ages of 17-26 and many will become addicted as a result of legitimate medical use.