Jack and the "Bean" Stalk
It's Sunday night in State College and Jack is lying on a tattered leather couch next to me. It's been a long weekend for Jack, you can tell just by looking at him. His face, unshaved and pale, his white undershirt, stained and worn from three straight days of use, and as he checks his Blackberry for a glimmer of hope he lights his last Marlboro with a shaking hand.
Jack might as well be a ghost, a mere shadow wandering among human forms. A man whose physical presence can be seen but not felt.
Jack is an OxyContin addict, struggling to face the bleak reality that the $120 dollars he gave his dealer on Friday has vanished, like all those white lines over the years, and the little jar he wears around his neck, reserved for the drug's white powder, will not be filled anytime soon.
"What the fuck dude," said Jack, who asked to be identified only by his first name, "I don't believe this kid beat me for a buck twenty large."
Jack fell hard and fast into the prescription drug epidemic. "(I) Started popping some Vikes (Vicodin) in high school and I haven't stopped since," said Jack, a Penn State senior, "The stuff was everywhere."
But what started out as mere dabbling in high school, soon morphed into a full-blown addiction in college with the discovery of the potent OxyContin.
"Oxy's took it and me to the next level," said Jack.
In 1995, the Federal Drug Administration approved OxyContin, a tiny pill designed to aid sufferers of chronic pain and severe accident victims. But as with anything good there must come evil, when OxyContin was placed on the market in 1996, abusers discovered the heroin-like high that could be reached by crushing the pill and swallowing, injecting or sniffing its contents, landing OxyContin the street name "Synthetic Heroin."
"It was like nothing, like no high I'd ever experienced before in my life," said Jack.
This sentiment, maybe even this exact quote, has been expressed by millions of young adults across the United States. About 1 in 20 high school seniors have acknowledged taking OxyContin, according to a 2005 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The report, first reported on by NPR, shows that in just three years times, OxyContin abuse is up 40 percent nationwide.