A BOOMING black market has sprung up in Griffith for a powerful prescription drug dubbed “hillbilly heroin”.
Griffith Police have charged a string of offenders in recent months for dealing or illegally possessing Oxycontin, a potent painkiller which can also produce feelings of euphoria in users.
The market is being fuelled by the ready availability of the drug, with police saying dealers – some legitimate pain sufferers – are “doctor shopping” for prescriptions.
The dealers then sell the tablets on the street for an average of $40 to $50 each, meaning one packet can fetch more than $1000 on the black market.
A local Oxycontin user, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said the amount of buyers for the drug had exploded in Griffith over the past year.
“It’s been popular in Griffith for ages, but it’s just starting to really come out now,” she said.
“I can go to the doctor and get two boxes of 28s and they could all be sold by that afternoon.
“People are willing to pay the money and it ends up being a cheaper hit than speed or heroin.
“But they’re not something to play with. The first time I had one I’d been drinking and it made me really sick.
“If you give it to someone who’s not used to it, it will knock them rotten.”
She said the tablets came in varying strength – from 10mg to 100mg – and generally sold for $1 per mg on the street, meaning a 10mg tablet sold for just $10.
Some users, she said, melted the opiate-based tablet down into a liquid and injected it to boost the effects.
“They give you a real high at first and then you crash and get a downer,” she said.
“Parents should really be watching their kids because these tablets are everywhere. If they muck around with them, it will drop you and if you don’t know how much to take, it will drop you.”
Griffith Police crime manager Detective Inspector Paul Smith said police were “deeply concerned” about the rise in popularity of the drug.
“Five years ago, we had no dealings with it, but now it’s a common occurrence,” Det Insp Smith said.
“It’s cheaper than other drugs so users are getting twice the bang for half the buck.
“A lot of its supply is through people ‘doctor shopping’ for prescriptions but we’ve also had reports of people breaking into homes to get it.
“We also think some dealers might have certain pharmacists on-side.”
He said a number of dealers had been charged across the command and warned others they would face the full force of the law if caught.
“It’s no different to speed, ecstasy or heroin – if you buy it from a dealer you’re putting your life in their hands,” he said.
A response was sought from Murrumbidgee Medicare Local about claims of doctor shopping but not received.