Inspired by the principles of crowdsourcing, StreetRx is a one-of-a-kind program that identifies and tracks the street value of prescription and illicit drugs. StreetRx gathers user-submitted data to map the street price of a variety of drugs across the country.
StreetRx users can anonymously post, view, and rate submissions, shedding new light onto the often muddy waters of the black market. By providing invaluable information about the preferences of users, health communication specialists can adapt the outreach efforts to the local needs of their community.
Oxycodone: In Brief
Oxycodone was developed when two German scientists, Martin Fruend and Edmund Speyer, synthesised it from thebaine in 1916. The drug came about in an attempt to find an alternate to opiates that effectively treated pain – but were also creating dependency and addiction. (Morphine and heroin are examples of such opiates.) Oxycodone was developed with other semi-synthetic opioids that were created for the same reason.
It made its clinical debut in 1917, and was introduced to the United States market in May of 1939. It became a practitioner favourite for treating acute postoperative pain and other types of severe pain, such as symptoms from cancer treatment. But the improper use and abuse of oxycodone became a problem. Two decades later, the US government classified oxycodone as a Schedule II narcotic. It remains an active ingredient in a number of popular medications, including Roxicet, Roxiprin, Percocet, Percodan, Endocet, Endodan, and OxyContin.
Oxycodone: In the Streets
Despite the original intention behind its creation, oxycodone has proved to cause dependency in some people. This potential for addiction has led the United States government to impose a classification of Schedule II, defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse. In Canada, it is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996. When unable to procure oxycodone through legal means, many turn to buying it on the streets and other black market resources.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate the underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of oxycodone is approximately C$1.87 per milligram.
Percocet: In Brief
Percocet is an analgesic (painkilling) drug, which is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Its precursor was first created when pharmacists began mixing oxycodone with aspirin in the 1950s. They called it Percodan, and it quickly became the leading painkiller in the United States. It reigned for a couple of decades, but began to lose favour in 1974 upon the introduction of Percocet, which, due to the substitution of aspirin for acetaminophen, is less likely to result in postoperative complications.
This popularity had a downside, with overprescription quickly becoming a problem. In 1995, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that prescriptions be limited, as Percocet had been associated with liver damage. Then, in 2000, the FDA found that the abuse of Percocet was leading to overdose and liver damage, leading to nearly 400 deaths per year. They then further tightened restrictions on availability, classifying Percocet as a Schedule II narcotic. In Canada, any oxycodone product is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996.
Percocet: In the Streets
Unfortunately, Percocet is widely misused and abused, regardless of the FDA’s classification. When it comes to available studies and general comprehension of the street market for prescription drugs, there is a real knowledge gap in regard to Percocet and other pharmaceuticals like it. Because of this, the black market has been able to grow and flourish. Many who are unable to acquire it legally depend on various black market means, including street dealers.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate this underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of Percocet is about C$2.34 per milligram.
Methadone: In Brief
In 1937, this drug was first developed in Germany. It offers longer and stronger analgesic (painkilling) effects than many other options. Eli Lilly and Company first introduced methadone to the United States market in 1947 and it is still approved as an effective and reliable analgesic today.
Because it is able to block the euphoric highs of drugs like morphine or heroin, this drug is often used by present-day practitioners in the US for treating opioid dependency. Due to its aforementioned long-lasting and potent effects, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed methadone as a Schedule II controlled substance. In Canada, methadone is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996.
Methadone: In the Streets
Even though governments regulate methadone, it is still widely desired for the treatment of opioid addiction and pain. Some people are not able to acquire it via legal means; because of this, many use the black market in order to procure it.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate the underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of methadone is approximately C$1.35 per milligram.
Tramadol: In Brief
This drug is an analgesic (painkiller) that is effective on moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is another German creation, first developed by the pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH in the late 1970s. Tramadol is less addictive than some other opioid painkillers because it is a synthetic agent. It’s not likely that patients will develop dependency on tramadol, even when it is used long-term.
Because of this, tramadol is not classified by the FDA with the other opiates and is instead a Schedule IV substance, which may be procured using a standard prescription. (If the pharmacy is in the United States, people can even order it online.) There have been over 55 different brand names for tramadol worldwide, including Ultram, Tramal, Ralivia, and Ryzolt.
Tramadol: In the Streets
Though this drug is widely available with little restriction, it still comes from opium, making it an opiate that can cause euphoric effects – which means that there is still a thriving black market for Tramadol. When seeing the doctor isn’t an option and a prescription can’t be found, people often head to the streets.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate the underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of tramadol is about C$0.16 per milligram.
Morphine: In Brief
The German pharmacist Friedrich Serturner first isolated morphine from opium in 1804. Merck began selling the drug on a commercial scale in 1827, but it was first distributed by Serturner himself in 1817. As a very potent analgesic (painkiller), morphine is most often used to control pain both before and after major surgeries. The invention of the hypodermic needle in 1857 gave morphine the ability to relieve even the most severe pain.
Morphine: In the Streets
Though it offers many benefits, morphine is another opiate, creating a feeling of euphoria in the user. Again, this gives it high potential for dependency and addiction. The United States government recognised this in 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. In Canada, morphine is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996. Unable to procure it traditionally, many people turn to the black market and illegal distributors.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate this underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of morphine is about C$0.73 per milligram.
Vicodin: In Brief
Vicodin was first introduced to the United States by another German pharmaceutical company, Knoll, in 1978. As a combination opioid-narcotic drug (acetaminophen and hydrocodone), it is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a Schedule II drug. In Canada, hydrocodone is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996. It is used as an analgesic (painkiller) for mild to severe pain, and when taken orally is estimated to be twice as potent as morphine.
Vicodin: In the Streets
As a Schedule II drug, restrictions are imposed on the distribution of Vicodin. Despite this designation, the black market for it is substantial. People who cannot procure Vicodin through traditional means often get it on the streets.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate this underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of Vicodin is about C$1.95 per milligram.
Lortab: In Brief
Lortab is a brand name medication that is generally used for managing and treating severe pain, often as a substitute for Vicodin or Percocet. It is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen and is currently classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Schedule II drug, which requires a valid prescription (all medications containing a hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination are in this classification.) In Canada, hydrocodone is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996.
Lortab: In the Streets
As an opiate analgesic (painkiller), Lortab has risks associated with its use, and especially with its misuse. These risks have led to the FDA placing restrictions on legally acquiring Lortab, which is why people often procure it on the streets or through the black market using other means.
The mission of StreetRx is to elucidate the underground drug market and use the knowledge obtained to aid in the reduction of prescription drug abuse. To this end, StreetRx collects data on the street prices of medications. The average street price of Lortab is about C$1.60 per milligram.
Cannabis sativa, more commonly known as marijuana, pot, or weed, is a plant that can be dried and used as a psychoactive drug. Natural oils can also be extracted so that specific chemical compounds like CBD (cannabidiol) can be isolated for medical purposes, in some cases without the psychoactive effects of other compounds, like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The whole plant (flowers, leaves, stems, etc.) can be smoked or ingested to elicit a feeling of euphoria, although this drug can be both a stimulant and a depressant. Long-term effects of cannabis use can include heart disease, respiratory issues, anxiety, and depression.
Cocaine, also referred to as coke, is a stimulant derived from the coca plant. The powder form of cocaine is usually snorted or dissolved and injected into veins, while the crystal form (crack) is smoked. Using this powerful drug creates a short period of intense euphoria due to the release of dopamine it elicits. Because the effects of cocaine are short-lived, many users feel the need to use it frequently to maintain the high. Even brief usage can cause issues like nosebleeds and elevated heart rate, but with long-term use, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, or death can occur.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is a synthetic stimulant also known as molly or ecstasy. Most often found in pill form (although it may also come in powdered form that can be snorted or dissolved and injected), this hallucinogenic drug stimulates the release of feel-good hormones like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin that cause users to experience euphoria. It also produces an energy boost and heightened feelings of trust, empathy, and sensual arousal. Many users alter their behavior under the influence of MDMA. While taking the drug, users may sweat heavily and feel nauseous and dizzy. Increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate are common. Long-term effects include disrupted sleep patterns, anxiety, and depression.
GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate), also called G, is a naturally occurring central nervous system depressant that goes through a synthetic production process to become a psychoactive drug. Because of depressant and amnesiac properties, this drug is not only used recreationally, but has gained a reputation as a date rape drug. It comes in the form of a white powder that users consume after mixing it with liquid, which renders it tasteless and odorless. Euphoria, intoxication, and loss of inhibitions are common side effects. Users may experience nausea, dizziness, or drowsiness under the influence of GHB, with effects lasting up to several hours. Dangerous side effects include unconsciousness and death.
A native plant found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand, Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree that’s part of the coffee family. When the leaves are added to food, brewed in tea, or simply chewed raw, users will experience effects similar to those of opioids. This may explain why it has long been used as part of many traditional medicines. Effects can last several hours, with small doses creating a stimulant effect and larger doses acting more like a depressant. Users may experience nausea, vomiting, and/or constipation. Long-term effects can include psychosis, respiratory problems, liver damage, and seizures.
LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide (often shortened to simply “acid”), comes from a fungus (ergot) that grows on rye grain. The crystalline form of the drug is converted to liquid and added to absorbent paper or made into tablets, capsules, or gelatin squares for consumption. LSD is best known for producing visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. It also affects mood and thought processes. An acid “trip” can last up to several hours, and users may experience sweating, dry mouth, increased blood pressure, and elevated heart rate, along with anxiety, delusions, and paranoia that may last long after the drug has worn off.
Commonly known as peyote, mescaline comes from any of several different cacti, including the peyote cactus, Lophophora williamsi. This naturally-occurring hallucinogenic drug requires very little preparation. Disk-shaped peyote buttons are simply cut from the ground and dried, after which they can be consumed. However, due to the buttons’ bitter flavor, most users prefer to brew dried buttons into a tea or create powder capsules. Mescaline has long been used as a medicine and is also used in certain ceremonies performed by Native Americans. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, paranoia, and anxiety, and use may increase respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Commonly referred to as meth, crystal, or crystal meth, this synthetic drug is a mixture of the decongestant pseudoephedrine and may contain a number of toxic chemicals, such as drain cleaner, paint thinner, and brake fluid. Methamphetamine comes in a powder form that is snorted, smoked, ingested, or injected to produce a stimulant effect similar to cocaine. It may also come in pill form. Feelings of energy and euphoria are intense, but short-lived, leading to frequent use and addiction. The detrimental effects of this drug with long-term use are significant, and can include oral health concerns, skin sores, weight loss, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, hallucinations, and delusions.
Phencyclidine, or PCP, was developed as an IV anesthetic in the 1950s, but development and usage were terminated when significant neurotoxic side effects were discovered. Subsequently, PCP, also known as angel dust, resurfaced as a recreational drug. The white, crystalline powder may be added to liquid, such as alcohol, although it is more commonly snorted, smoked, or taken in capsule form. PCP is known to cause hallucinations and feelings of strength and invincibility as it reacts with dopamine, glutamate, nicotinic, NMDA, and opioid receptors in the brain. Detrimental effects can include hostility, violence, psychosis, and amnesia, as well as numbness, loss of motor function, seizures, coma, and death.
Also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug found in certain types of mushrooms, which are consumed, often by adding them to food or brewing them in a tea. Consumption produces hallucinations and feelings of euphoria, with one notable effect being an altered perception of time. Effects may last for hours, with the peak typically occuring within the first hour following consumption. Nausea and vomiting are common, as are elevated body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Long-term use may produce adverse effects like panic attacks or psychosis.
Salvia, a plant native to the Oaxaca region of Mexico, has long been used by Mazatec shamans of the region for spiritual ceremonies, perhaps because it is claimed to produce a trance-like state and affect sensory perception, including sight and touch. It can also affect mood. Often, leaves are chewed or smoked, although they can also be brewed in a tea. Effects can be felt within just a few minutes and last up to about 30 minutes when smoked, while ingestion produced effects lasting up to two hours.