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What Is “Hillbilly Heroin?”

What Is “Hillbilly Heroin?”

OxyContin is known on the street as Hillbilly Heroin

With the many street names that are given to drugs, it can be difficult to know what drug a person is referring to. “Hillbilly heroin” is one of the street names for a commonly abused drug called oxycodone. It may also be referred to as “poor man’s heroin” or “oxy.” Oxycodone, like heroin, is an opioid drug that is abused for a variety of reasons. It is called “hillbilly heroin” because of its popularity among rural populations.

Abuse Rates

According to the 2010 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), opioid drugs were the third most abused substance in the state of Iowa. This figure includes the abuse of hillbilly heroin, or oxycodone. Furthermore, SAMHSA’s 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) states that 4.9 million Americans ages 12 and over reported the use of pain relievers, like oxycodone, for non-medical reasons. Unfortunately, rates of opioid abuse have slowly increased over the years and are likely to continue rising.

Effects of Hillbilly Heroin

Because oxycodone is an opioid narcotic, it is known to have many effects on the body. This class of drugs plugs into receptors throughout the body and depresses the central nervous system (CNS) as a result. This means that it slows down the transmission of signals in the brain. These effects cause pain relief and euphoria, which are the main reasons the drug is used. Other less desirable effects of hillbilly heroin abuse include the following:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • Slow and shallow breathing

These side effects of the drug may not only be unpleasant, but can also be dangerous.

Hillbilly Heroin Risks

Many Des Moines communities mistakenly believe that oxycodone is safe to use, since it is available through prescription. However, this is far from the truth. The abuse of hillbilly heroin has many associated risks. The most immediate dangers occur directly through side effects of the drug. In high enough doses, a person’s breathing can become so slow that it ceases altogether. If this is not immediately reversed, brain damage can occur in just a matter of minutes. Drowsiness and dizziness are also strong concerns for those who abuse hillbilly heroin. This drug also impairs judgment, much like alcohol, leading oxycodone users to believe they are safe driving. Unfortunately, this leads to many motor vehicle crashes and deaths.

Aside from the dangerous side effects of hillbilly heroin, addiction is another concern for those that abuse this drug. High doses or frequent abuse of oxycodone can quickly lead to the development of an addiction. This is characterized by dependence, tolerance and withdrawal. Oxycodone dependence is present when the addict needs to take the drug to function normally, and tolerance occurs when the addict requires higher doses to achieve the same effects. Withdrawal is the development of specific symptoms that occurs when a drug addict suddenly stops taking the drug. Those addicted to hillbilly heroin, for example, may experience anxiety, sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, muscle spasms, and muscle and bone pain. Recovering from oxycodone addiction and withdrawal may be difficult, but is possible through the appropriate treatment.

Get Help for Oxycodone Addiction

If you or someone you know in Des Moines has become addicted to oxycodone, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for oxycodone addiction.