OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride) is powerful prescription painkiller, manufactured by Purdue Pharmaceuticals. The substance itself is intended to provide time-released relief from severe pain and, when used correctly, is of tremendous benefit to the medical community. The drug is often abused, however, and has become one of our nation’s most commonly abused opioids.
As with heroin and other opioid substances, OxyContin’s interplay with opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the nervous system, produces analgesic (pain relieving) effects and/or euphoric sensations. The more OxyContin one takes, the more intensified its effects are—unlike other over-the-counter pain relieving drugs which generally have a “cap” in terms of their potential effects.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified the issue prescription drug abuse as a national epidemic. In an attempt to stifle OxyContin abuse numbers, the FDA recently announced measures aimed at deterring misuse of the opioid. Further, the FDA said it would not approve any generics of the drug which lacked these deterrant properties.
Basic OxyContin Facts
Oxy, OxyCotton, Oxy 80 (for the 80mg dose), or OC.
What Does OxyContin Look Like?
OxyContin most commonly exists in round tablets. These pills may range in dose from 10mg or 20mg to 40mg, 80mg or even 160mg dosages. OxyContin also comes in capsule or liquid form. As tablets, OxyContin pills are often identifiable by the “OC” stamp on one of its sides.
Short-Term Effects and Adverse Reactions
OxyContin carries with it a long list of risks and side effects, especially if taken incorrectly or excessively, or combined with other drugs, alcohol or medications. The most serious risk associated with OxyContin is shallowed, slowed or stopped breathing as is caused by respiratory depression. Users should be especially careful of combining OxyContin with antihistamines (including some cold or allergy medications), barbiturates or benzodiazepines. Other common side effects of OxyContin include constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Overdose and/or death can occur if the ingested tablet has been broken, chewed, crushed or snorted/ smoked. Tampering with the time-release coating can produce toxic overwhelm to the body, and some users report experiencing the drug’s euphoric effects for up to 5 hours.
One of the more obvious long-term effects of OxyContin use is physical tolerance and dependency which can lead to addiction. Use of the powerful opioid eventually can cause the body to adapt, requiring increasingly larger dosages in order for the same initial effects (pain relief, euphoria, etc.) to be produced. Over time, this can establish a physical addiction that in many cases is closely linked to the cycle of mental addiction. Immediate cessation of OxyContin use can cause moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, ranging from insomnia and restlessness to extreme bone and muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, hot flashes and more. Withdrawal can last from several days up to a week or more.
The Development of OxyContin Addiction
As a prescription-strength pain reliever, OxyContin has chemical properties similar to heroin or morphine and offers benefit to the medical community in emergency situations. The drug was initially developed and approved to address moderate to severe pain, and is often used among patients recovering from surgeries or who are severely injured (as by a gunshot wound or otherwise.)
The United States continues to experience increasing numbers of prescription medicine abuse. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, OxyContin and other oxycodone products remain some the most widely abuse prescription drugs in the country.
Abusers of OxyContin may ingest the drug by removal of the time release coating on the pills. Some chew the pills or crush them up (for snorting or smoking them), while others inject the opioid intravenously.
The wrongful obtainment of OxyContin through prescription fraud and abuse of the public healthcare system has remained a focus of American law enforcement officials. The illegal process of “doctor shopping” or other means of purchasing prescription drugs for their personal use without a prescription (or for their sale) is a criminal offense, punishable by law.
OxyContin addiction is a serious issue which is highly difficult, if not impossible, to overcome without proper rehabilitation. If you or someone you care about struggles with prescription drug addiction, please contact our team of counselors for more information.