Over the past three years, the number of prescriptions for oxycodone in New York City has doubled. The city's special narcotics prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, testified that last year more than 1 million prescriptions for oxycodone — the generic name for OxyContin — were filled in the five boroughs. That means one in every eight people per capita, or roughly 13 percent of the population, has access to synthetic, temporary, highly addictive happiness in pill form. Perhaps misunderstanding how the words pure opium can motivate some people, Brennan told the City Council's Public Safety Committee:
"The public flat out needs to be better informed about how widespread the problem is and how dangerously addictive these substances are. It's pure opium. And that's an addictive drug. It's nothing to be played with."
The crisis has hit the five boroughs disproportionately with people in Staten Island apparently popping pills as liberally as they administer hair gel. Last year, on a per capita basis, the number of oxycodone prescriptions filled represented an "astounding" 28 percent of Staten Island's population. Add in Vicodin prescriptions, and it goes up to 33 percent.
Brennan is also concerned with the attendant violence. In many cases, drug investigations have led to gun seizures, in some cases uncovering a mini arsenal. Last month, officers investigating a suspected drug stash at an apartment on the Upper West Side found 350 oxycodone pills, plus crack cocaine and three loaded semi-automatic handguns. But those investigations are in danger of losing funding as Mayor Bloomberg's proposed cuts would bring budget cuts to Brennan's office at a loss of $1.65 million over two years.
Not only are we in the middle of an oxy crisis and without the funds to address it, but New York is seriously losing its edge as a cultural influencer. Oprah had a show on the oxy epidemic among rural and suburban housewives years ago. C'mon, local drug fans, get ahead of the curve!