OxyContin® use and misuse in three populations: Substance abuse patients, pain patients, and criminal justice participants


  • Martha J. Wunsch, MD
  • Karen L. Cropsey, PsyD
  • Eleanor D. Campbell, MS
  • Janet S. Knisely, PhD




prescription medication misuse and abuse, OxyContin (TM), pain patients, criminal justice, substance abuse


Objective: This study was designed to describe and compare individuals in rural Appalachia prescribed, abusing or diverting OxyContin® a region with high rates of prescription medication abuse and misuse.
Setting and Participants: Fifty subjects treated for OxyContin®abuse, 34 subjects prescribed OxyContin®for pain and 50 subjects incarcerated due to OxyContin®-related charges from rural Appalachia.
Interventions: The Addiction Severity Index, DSM-IV Checklist, and an investigator developed questionnaire were administered to all three groups.
Results: All three groups included individuals prescribed OxyContin® for pain and demographic variables and psychiatric/medical histories failed to discriminate between the pain and substance abuse (SA) subjects. SA and criminal justice subjects were significantly more likely to have a current DSM-IV diagnosis of psychoactive abuse/dependence and more likely to be younger and unmarried.
Conclusion: This study found that these groups are not distinct and in depth evaluations, including a detailed SA history, are needed to identify the pain patient at risk for abuse and/or diversion of prescribed opioids.

Author Biographies

Martha J. Wunsch, MD

Addiction Medicine, Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Karen L. Cropsey, PsyD

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Alabama School of Medicine, West Birmingham, Alabama.

Eleanor D. Campbell, MS

Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. Janet S. Knisely, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.

Janet S. Knisely, PhD

Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.


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How to Cite

Wunsch, MD, M. J., Cropsey, PsyD, K. L., Campbell, MS, E. D., & Knisely, PhD, J. S. (2018). OxyContin® use and misuse in three populations: Substance abuse patients, pain patients, and criminal justice participants. Journal of Opioid Management, 4(2), 73–79. https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2008.0011