Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2006


During the past ten years, rural Kentucky (and rural pockets of nearby states) witnessed the emergence of a new pharmaceutical drug of abuse. The powerful oxycodone, OxyContin, first manufactured in 1996 and designed for timerelease pain relief, found aready population in rural hamlets and mountain communities. Intended for patients in pain associated with terminal disease, it became a drug of abuse as it was over-prescribed and
trafficked. This Justice and Safety Research Bulletin describes the sudden growth in the use of this new drug and its antecedents. Describing the trends in use and abuse,this Bulletin presents evidence of an epidemic created in part by organizations in both the private and public sectors. It describes the marked changes in OxyContin arrests but concludes that arrest trendslikely reveal more about law enforcement than drug use. It also describes the much
publicized relationship between OxyContin use andcrime in Kentucky, with
emphasis on the eastern partof the state and suggests thatthe much heralded crime increases were more rhetorical than empirical.



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