View Full Version : Prescription drug abuse in 1998 and police responses in that time

04-20-2016, 06:01 AM
Does anyone know what types of prescription drug abuse would have been popular in rural West Virginia in 1998?

I'm writing a novel where a character is addicted to OxyContin (never had a prescription, strict recreational use), but I recently learned that OxyContin wasn't on the market until 96, and so wouldn't have been widespread in 98. (Also he is a white, working class male in his mid-twenties.) I know I could always switch the drug to something non-prescription if I absolutely had to, but it complicates things if he isn't addicted to pills of some kind. Is there anything remotely similar that would have been widespread, or becoming widespread in 98?

Furthermore, he's on house arrest and is waiting trial because he got caught with a pretty high number of pills and the police thought he was dealing. If anyone could tell me if this type of police response seems feasible, that would also be helpful.

I've been trying to dig around on my own, but searching the history of prescription drug abuse seems to bring up mostly addiction help sites. (Which makes sense, but doesn't answer my questions :P )

04-20-2016, 06:46 AM
Before OxyContin was around, the drug of choice was Percodan (or sometimes Percocet). Both Percodan and OxyContin are oxycodone, just different preparations of the drug.

Another popular drug was and is Dilaudid (hydromorphone) The high is very similar to heroin but a lot stronger and a lot better. But whereas Percodan was routinely prescribed for all sorts of things, Dilaudid was very hard to obtain and so wasn't seen in abuse cases on anything like the same numbers as Percodan.

For all intents and purposes, Percodan was the OxyContin of the 80s and 90s.

Police can't put someone under house arrest. Only the courts can do that, and that is pretty unusual it can be made a condition of release on bail, with an ankle monitor, but there has to be a really good reason for it and simply abusing or even being charged with dealing drugs is usually not enough.

04-20-2016, 06:46 AM
Prescription pills have been a problem for the police since at least the 1960s, maybe earlier. Uppers, downers, pain pills, muscle relaxants, and I'm sure some other categories. Oh, yeah, and don't forget steroids.

I'd think of something in the Amphetamine family. It's an upper and enables people to do more work, as well as other effects. Coal miners are often paid by production, so working harder is a good thing.

And house arrest would be very unusual at that point. Ankle monitors were just coming into existence. There was no way to keep track of someone.

Jim Clark-Dawe

04-20-2016, 07:10 AM
Thanks so much guys! I think either of your suggestions may work. I was looking into opiates, but Amphetamines may work as well. He's not in it so much for increased productivity (just for the high) but that could help with ease of access.

Does anybody know what the police would have been likely to do? The most important points are: he can't be in jail, at least not at the moment, but it would be better if jail were a serious threat, and he is being drug tested. Jim Clark-Dawe, I had tried to find out when house arrest became a thing before and struggled--thanks for pointing that out. I'd based my idea of house arrest on what happened with my cousin when he was caught with a large quantity of marijuana, but that happened about a year ago, not in 98. :P (Also he wasn't just accused of dealing, he specifically told them that he was.)

And thanks again! I've been finding these kinds of questions surprisingly hard to research online.

04-20-2016, 07:36 AM
Straight bail is always available. Terms and conditions can include reporting into probation on a daily basis, random drug testing, curfew, and having to stay at either work or home. Violate any of those conditions and you go to jail.

Jim Clark-Dawe

04-20-2016, 07:45 AM
The most common route for Percodan was through forged prescriptions. Back then it was not uncommon for doctors to leave the prescription pads just lying around. Some of the drug abusers were quite sophisticated and good at it.

The thing about opiate addiction is that people will do almost anything to get their fix. But other than their dependence on the drug, they're quite rational. When they're actually on the drug, are usually quiet and withdrawn.

Meth users spiral totally out of control, and during meth highs sometimes indulge in violent and bizarre behavior. So you can pick your drug of choice depending on how you want your character to behave and where your plot wants to take him.

04-21-2016, 06:08 PM
In a rural area, you were less likely to get drugs from forged prescriptions and more likely by stealing from relatives or even being given them by relatives. Valium was also commonly abused at the time and, given the location and time frame, drugs popular in the late 1970's could be appropriate as well. Rural southern areas tended to be as much as a decade behind large cities on the coasts as far as drug abuse. The internet has changed that delay in adoption quite a bit. Never saw a house arrest until the late 1990's but, before the major push on drugs with Clinton's crime bill, getting out on low or even no bail was common for low level offenses. Drug monitoring was, and still is, a common bail condition.

In rural West Virginia, make him the quarterback of the football team and have a state championship coming up. He'll be released in an hour. :)