Web sites have sprung up with buyers and peddlers in search of each other, but also with the testimonials of users lamenting their experience with the drug. On one such web site, one self-described addict says she had a $50,000-a-year habit on OxyContin, which she'd begun taking illegally for chronic back pain.
An OxyContin prescription costs about $100, while the street price runs about a dollar per milligram. Because pills range from 10 to 80 milligrams, the profit margin can be lucrative for those who sell the drug illegally. In some small towns, OxyContin is a full-time job for some deputies.
"We started running into OxyContin on the street ( about two or three years ago ). It's the big thing down here now. It's what everybody wants. Addicts say once you do it, you've got to have it."
This translates into big bucks for dealers. In these small towns, poverty makes for good business if you're an OxyContin dealer. "Most of these people selling this stuff aren't paying for the prescriptions anyway. They're either on some kind of assistance through the state or their insurance pays for it."
"Nine out of 10 ( dealers ) don't have jobs," one sheriff said. "Most of these people don't want to work. They're making big money on selling dope. We arrested a lady last month ... we confiscated her money. Some of our buy money ( police money used to make an illegal deal for arrest purposes ) was in that money, plus she had food stamps in there."