Clifford Woolf, the Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesia Research at Harvard Medical School, has suggested using capsaicin [the substance in chili peppers that causes "hotness"] to deter abuse of certain extended-release drugs such as OxyContin and Ritalin. When taken as prescribed, opioid prescription drugs such as OxyContin or stimulant drugs such as Adderall XR release their active chemical over time, but when crushed and insufflated, taken as a suppository, chewed, or injected, the larger than normal dosage is absorbed all at once and a much stronger effect is produced that can be highly habit forming and potentially fatal due to the higher risk of overdose. Woolf has argued that adding capsaicin into the capsules would be a safe way to deter abuse. A person taking the capsule in the prescribed way (i.e., swallowing it whole) would suffer no ill effects from the additive. However, a person crushing it would expose the irritant. Anyone then chewing it, snorting it, or injecting it would be exposed to the full power of the chemical. "Imagine snorting an extract of 50 jalapeño peppers and you get the idea," Woolf said in an interview with the Harvard University Gazette.
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