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OxyContin Abuse and Crime Go Hand in Hand in the Most Unlikely Places
When you hear the words, “Cape Cod”, what do you think of?
Younger folks might imagine picturesque harbor-front restaurants overlooking sailboats plying a sunny, wind-swept bay, or fun-filled evening clambakes and lobster-fests on sandy beaches under the stars.
For those of us of a certain age, though, Cape Cod is intrinsically linked to America’s most celebrated first family—the fabled, star-crossed Kennedy clan.
Just hearing the words Cape Cod conjures memories of President John F. Kennedy and his glamorous first lady Jackie holding court for famed political leaders, captains of industry and Hollywood glitterati at the legendary Kennedy Family Compound at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod—the “summer White House” while JFK was president.
On the Cape today, it’s a different story. Law enforcement officials, bankers, merchants and lots of ordinary people are facing a grim reality.
Here, in one of the unlikeliest places you can imagine, armed robberies have doubled, unarmed robberies have quadrupled, and there’s been so many bank heists, the local media is calling it “a spree” of bank robberies.
Prescription Drug Abuse Has Changed Cape Cod
Bank robbery and armed home invasions are a far cry from the pearly visions of a modern Camelot inspired by the Cape’s most illustrious denizens at Hyannis Port. Back in the 1960s, when the term “home invasion” had yet to be coined, Cape Cod was a pretty and peaceful tourist Mecca where anyone could walk down the streets at night in relative safety.
One can only wonder what could possibly have happened to change all that?
In Barnstable, the Cape’s largest city, the explanation is brutally simple. Says Barnstable Police Lt. Sean Balcom, “The huge trend, the motivating factor in most of our major theft and home invasions, comes back to The Pill."
Oxycodone — the Highly Addictive Opioid Painkiller
“The Pill”, of course, is oxycodone, the highly-addictive opioid painkiller prescribed in ever-increasing numbers by Massachusetts’ doctors, including those on the Cape. From 1997 to 2006, the number of opioids prescribed doubled from 1 million to 2 million, according to the state Department of Public Health, while the population remained relatively stable.
OxyContin Drug Abuse
Even more valued by hard-core opioid abusers than simple oxycodone is OxyContin, the time-release version of the drug which is more dangerously addictive and far deadlier when crushed and snorted, or shot up into a vein like heroin, the drug it most resembles.
Prescription Drug Abuse — "It’s out of control."
“It used to be you could go a week or two without speaking with someone who’s sober,” said the 20-year veteran narcotics investigator, referring of course to the years when alcohol was the main drug of abuse. Speaking to the Cape Cod Times recently, Balcom said today it’s prescription drugs, not alcohol. “That’s how we feel now about drugs. We can go days without dealing with someone who isn’t on pills. It’s out of control.”
People with no police record are suddenly showing up as suspects in major crimes, he said, and the number one link in most cases is addiction to prescription drugs.
"…this problem is everywhere."
“We’re seeing people from the well-to-do to the not so well-to-do, all hooked on this stuff,” said Balcom. “There’s no one aspect or action you can take to correct this problem because it is everywhere.”
In nearby Yarmouth, police Detective Chris Kent is experiencing the same situation. “It happens in more households than you think, the good and the bad, because the drug is so powerful that people don’t have control over it,” he said. “Someone we would never have thought of as committing a crime, is now doing serious crimes.
Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic,” Kent added. “The petty crimes are down, but there’s been a drastic increase in more serious crimes, like armed robberies, bank robberies. It’s a result of locals who are opiate-addicted from taking prescription drugs. They are desperate for money and will stop at nothing."
OxyContin Addiction and Accidental Overdose Death
Someone with an oxycodone prescription for an injury or chronic pain can wind up addicted, or dead. On Cape Cod, just like everywhere else in the country, OxyContin and the other opioids rapidly lead to addiction or accidental overdose death, even when the drug is not intentionally being abused.
Although, when we hear the words Cape Cod, we can’t help but think of the Kennedy family compound—that legendary acreage on the ocean with private mansions, tennis courts and swimming pools at Hyannis Port—these days we also are reminded of the information that emerged about JFK decades after his tragic death.
The president was so ill, with so many maladies, and on so many different prescription drugs—including heavy painkillers and sleeping potions—that it’s a miracle he could walk around and carry on intelligent conversations.
And JFK had been seriously ill numerous times since he was a child, so ill in fact that he actually received the Last Rites at least three times—two of them before he even became the president:
- First, on the ocean liner Queen Mary in September, 1947 on his way him from London, where he was been hospitalized and diagnosed with Addison’s disease;
- Second, following an operation in October, 1954 that left the future president in a coma; and
- Third and last time, after the Texas assassination.
Yes, “Cape Cod” sparks memories of Kennedy antics, along with the unforgettable Kennedy tragedies—JFK’s assassination, brother Bobby’s assassination, and decades later the stunning loss of John F. Kennedy Jr. in the plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, that also claimed his new bride and her older sister.
Today, we need to take a good look at what’s happening not just on Cape Cod but in every city, town and village across the country: a glance at the news media plainly shows us that prescription drug abuse is a bona fide epidemic—and opioids like oxycodone and OxyContin are among the most common, and dangerous, of them all.
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