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The Scourge of Oxycodone Addiction
By Noah Evslin, Director of Medical Research
If you watch our show closely, you'll realize it's not the medical treatments that make Private Practice different than other shows on television; rather, it's the ethical debates surrounding the myriad decisions our doctors need to make every week.
I'm going to depart from my regular blog format to talk about the subject that's at the heart of "Who We Are" -- Shonda Rhimes' riveting episode about oxycodone addiction.
A lot of thought (and by thought I mean: discussion, argument, consternation, bickering, and heartbreaking research) went into the creation of this episode because oxycodone addiction is such a crippling epidemic, and it's only getting worse every year.
In 2010, about 12 million Americans (age 12 or older) reported nonmedical use of prescription painkillers. One in 20 Americans (age 12 and older) have used prescription painkillers in a nonmedical manner. That year, the number of new nonmedical users of Oxycodone aged 12 or older was 598,000, with an average age at first use of 22.8 years among those aged 12 to 49. The numbers are staggering. And tragic. They are growing larger every year, and they affect all walks of life.
I had a big argument with one of the doctors who consult with the show over having one of our main characters get hooked (and almost die) by using such a potentially dangerous drug (when used incorrectly). The consultant wasn't upset that a character used drugs on our show, rather, she was upset because that person happened to be a doctor. A medical professional. Somebody who should definitely know better.
But, isn't that kind of the point?
Although Amelia's a great doctor, she's no different than anybody else when it comes to the powerfully addictive nature of oxycodone. And by showing her battle with addiction, as well as her subsequent intervention and treatment, we're showing that it can happen to anybody.