A growing number of prescription drug abusers in Jersey are turning to a new painkiller - Opana - to feed their addiction instead of OxyContin.

Steven Liga, the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says Opana "is similar to OxyContin - except it's twice as strong."

He says for years addicts had been crushing OxyContin - and then snorting or injecting it to get high.

"Once OxyContin changed its formula so that you could not crush it - then get the full effect all at once, people started switching to Opana."

Now, however the manufacturer of Opana has changed its formula., so it can no longer be crushed either.

But Liga points out there is still a lot of the product on the market - and it will take quite a while for all of it to disappear, so until it does, the abuse will continue.

He says Opana is "very similar to a heroin type of a high- it's in the same class of drugs, so it's going to be one of relaxed euphoria…But once all of the crushable Opana is off the market, what abusers are going to have to go to would be heroin- and that's actually what most OxyContin users did - most of em switched to heroin rather than the Opana - it was not as easy to get…Some addicts will simply take more Opana pills…But it's not going to be the same - that has been happening and still does happen to some degree with OxyContin - you just take more if it - but it doesn't give that intense rush."

Liga adds this cycle may continue for quite some time because "basically what happens is pharmaceutical companies are always trying to make a more effective cost- effective or more powerful medication - so that is going to continue."

He also points out there has not been a big surge in Opana use in Jersey, and at some point in the future, pharmaceutical companies may only offer a non-crushable form of their medication.