Arrests Shine Light on Prescription Pill Abuse in Reno

The recent breakup of a “pill mill” ring in Reno, Nevada, has brought renewed attention on the area’s struggles to effectively address epidemic levels of prescription drug abuse.

In the nearly 90 years since Reno, Nevada bestowed the “Biggest Little City in the World” nickname upon itself, the former mining town has maintained a reputation for excess. Liberal divorce laws, legal gambling, and proximity to licensed brothels has made Reno an enticing destination for those who wish to engage in the many behaviors that fall under the euphemistic umbrella of “adult fun.”

Of course, the legalization of certain so-called vices does not prevent people from engaging in other illicit, illegal, or otherwise ill-advised pursuits. And today, as is the unfortunate case in many other cities throughout the United States, a common ill-advised pursuit in Reno involves that abuse of prescription pills.

On April 28 and 29, a Reno doctor and eight others were arrested by federal agents for their alleged involvement in the illegal distribution of prescription opioids, including oxycodone and fentanyl. Authorities claim that the Reno ring had been in operation for years, and is linked to at least one death.

Oxycodone, which is present in the popular prescription painkillers OxyContin and Percocet, is a powerful semisynthetic opioid that is typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that is most commonly used to treat severe pain that cannot be controlled by morphine.

Stacy Ward, a drug abuse prevention counselor with the Reno Police Department, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that increased abuse of prescription opioids has been one of the most significant drug-related problems in the area in recent years. The Gazette also reported that between 2006 and 2012, the annual amount of prescription opioids that were legally distributed in Nevada increased by more than 100 percent.

According to Join Together Northern Nevada, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to fighting substance abuse in Washoe County, prescription drug abuse is one of the main reasons why drug overdose is now the second-leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, and the leading cause among individuals ages 35 to 54.

Efforts in Reno and other areas to curb prescription opioid abuse by closely monitoring the distribution of these medications have shown promise, but progress has not come without unintended negative consequences. For example, some experts note that the inability of opioid-dependent individuals to access prescription medications has contributed to increased rates of heroin abuse.

Whether a person begins to use oxycodone, fentanyl, or any other prescription opioid for legitimate medical purposes, in an illicit attempt to self-medicate, or solely for a recreational high, addiction can occur with stunning rapidity.

People who become dependent upon opioids will develop tolerance, which means that they will need to take increasingly larger doses of the drugs in order to achieve the desired effect. When a person who has become dependent upon an opioid stops or significantly reduces the amount and frequency of his or her opioid use, he or she may experience intense cravings and a range of other painful symptoms, including, but not limited to, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and abdominal cramping.

These withdrawal symptoms, and the knowledge that they can be alleviated by relapsing into opioid abuse, can make opioid addiction extremely difficult to overcome without effective professional intervention. The good news is that, with effective treatment, a person can overcome the compulsion to abuse opioids and can achieve long-term recovery.

If you or someone that you care about has been struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers or a non-prescription opioid such as heroin, Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab may have the solutions that you have been searching for. To get the answers you need in order to make the most informed decision for yourself or your loved one, contact Duffy’s today.