OxyContin is a brand name for oxycodone, an opiate pain medication. Unlike some other opiate painkillers, OxyContin is not a combination drug — oxycodone is the only active ingredient.
OxyContin is prescribed for the relief of moderate to chronic pain. It is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for this level of pain relief, and is also one of the most frequently abused drugs. It is prescribed in doses ranging from 10mg to 80mg of oxycodone.
Since it contains only oxycodone as the active ingredient, OxyContin is listed as a Schedule II drug. While it is considered safe to use when patients stick to the doses and schedule prescribed by a doctor, there is strong potential for a patient to slip into OxyContin addiction due to the euphoric effect the drug produces.
The drug is taken orally. Pain relief generally lasts for four to five hours per dose. Some possible side effects include constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and itchiness. An opioid overdose can cause coma or death due to respiratory depression.
It may also be referred to by the standard dosages it comes in — 10, 20, 40 and 80 milligrams.
OxyContin is prescribed as a tablet for oral use in one of the dosages listed above. Illicit street sale also usually consists of tablets in one of these dosages. These dosages may be designed for instant use or may have a time-release coating.
OxyContin is an opiate painkiller. It is the most common trade name for oxycodone, which is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. OxyContin is most commonly prescribed for chronic pain.
The DEA lists OxyContin (along with all oxycodone products) as a Schedule II drug. It is recognized as having high potential for abuse and addiction, but also has legitimate medical use when taken as prescribed by a doctor.
Both legitimate medical use and abuse consist of simply popping a pill. If the pill is of a time-release formulation, however, abusers may attempt to peel the coating off to get a more potent immediate onset of the effects, or crush and snort it. OxyContin has had a standard time-release coating on all pills since 2013, but older pills that release the full dosage immediately may sometimes still be sold on the street.
It is a very powerful painkiller, and also produces a sense of euphoria and warmth. Due to its potency, it is usually restricted to use for only two weeks at a time.
While on this medication, users often become lethargic and drowsy. They may also experience dry mouth, nausea, vomiting and an overall feeling of itchiness.
Long-term use puts users at an elevated risk for a number of serious diseases: cardiovascular infection, kidney disease and liver disease among them. It is also possible to develop chronic neurological symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia.
Due to the potency of this medication, and the intensity of the euphoria it brings on, addiction can develop very quickly. Death by respiratory depression due to overdose is also possible.
Due to its potency, OxyContin is usually abused on its own. If mixed, it is likely to be taken with another opioid in an attempt to increase the high.
OxyContin has become one of the most commonly prescribed opioid drugs for pain in the United States, and with the sharp rise in prescriptions has also come a sharp rise in addiction. Studies by the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration estimate that there are about 180,000 visits to emergency rooms related to OxyContin abuse. This is in spite of the attempts by the manufacturer to dissuade abuse with the time-release coating.
Statistics reveal that in 2012, and estimated 2.1 million Americans suffered from a substance abuse disorder involving prescription painkillers. The Centers for Disease Control report that as many as 78 people die every day from an opioid overdose.
Since OxyContin is so potent, an addiction will require a period of detox followed by an extended period of inpatient treatment at a certified medical facility. This period of inpatient treatment generally lasts at least 30 days, but can range for much longer in cases of severe addiction. Addicts often report that the cravings never entirely go away even after years of being clean, and may need to continue taking medications to manage their symptoms and attending group meetings indefinitely. Due to the strong addictive characteristics that OxyContin has been known to have, it is strongly recommended that anyone who suspects they have developed a dependence seek inpatient drug treatment. For information about rehabilitation, visit OxyContin Rehab.
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