For the past week I have been visiting various infamous corners of Kings Cross and Redfern trying to buy ''Oxies'', aka oxycodone, Oxycontin, OxyNorm, ''hillbilly heroin'' or, as the media would have you believe, our ''newest drug scourge''.
Oxy is a semi-synthetic opioid highly sought by heroin addicts because it delivers a much better bang for your buck than the big H, manufactured as it is by multinational pharmaceutical companies. You know what you're getting: the dose, quality and purity is guaranteed, so there are no nasty surprises for the experienced user.
Long story short, however, there's been none about. Naught.
''It's dried up,'' said one dealer who declined to be further ''interviewed'' once I told him I wrote for this newspaper. I'll admit my scoring technique was a bit rusty and I looked far too clean to be a junkie. Dealers were suspicious and my timing was out when I first went a-hunting, about 10pm.
''Only fasts now. Slows in the morning, down the station. All the Oxy boys are asleep now,
one dealer said with a laugh.
By fasts he meant meth and ecstasy, but I didn't think I'd be able to slip those on my expense form for a column about Oxy. So I tried the next morning and the only dealer who claimed to be ''holding'' asked if I was a cop, then wanted to see my track (needle) marks.
''I only snort it,'' I said.
''Exactly what a cop would say,'' he replied.
''You don't f---in' have any [Oxies] anyhow,'' the man's girlfriend said to her partner. ''No one does. Just f--- off, mate.''
Another friend suggested faking track marks with a pin and non-metallic purple eye shadow to mimic bruising, but even this ploy didn't help me the next day.
''They're crackin' down, there's just nothing. I can get you hammer [heroin] and meth down the road,'' another dealer said, impressed by my bedraggled appearance and tracks. I declined.
What I did bring home with me, however, was a sense of the power government and law enforcement's intervention can have over the supply of legal drugs on the street.
Because the Oxy cat is out of the bag, so to speak, metropolitan doctors and pharmacists are much more suspicious about prescribing and dispensing it to patients.
''They also know they're being scrutinised,'' NSW Drug Squad head Nick Bingham says.
Thanks to the National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Strategy Committee, about 50 doctors are being monitored because of their largesse with said prescriptions.
However, Bingham admits: ''Police don't particularly want to have to target prescription opiates when there are other important things to tackle, such as organised crime.''
The sad fact about the Oxy crackdown is users are now being forced back to heroin and meth, manufactured and cut under far less exacting standards than those at a pharmaceutical laboratory. The consequence is some of our nation's most vulnerable and damaged citizens are being pushed back into the Russian roulette of shooting what's rightly known as junk.
Ain't life grand at the bottom?
June 30, 2013
Sam de Brito
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