What is OxyContin (oxycodone)?

Oxycontin is a brand name for narcotic analgesic, a medication prescribed for pain, and is the timed-release formula of oxycodone. Physicians prescribe oxycontin for conditions associated with severe pain, such as cancer, arthritis, and injuries.  Oxycodone mimics the effects of other powerful drugs, like morphine, and other analgesics such as Percodan (a mixture of oxycodone and aspirin), and Percocet (mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen). Oxycontin is an opioid that is used only in as needed purposes for severe pain, often around the clock for pain management. Oxycontin has up to 80 milligrams of oxycodone in a timed-release formula that combats up to 12 hours of severe or chronic pains.

How is Oxycontin abused?

Individuals who misuse or abuse this opioid, commonly crush the tablets, mixe it with water and administer it intravenously. Other people snort it or ingest it. The process of diluting oxycontin with water compromises time-releasing effects, therefore making the medicine more potent and potentially lethal.  A new formula of Oxtcontine was created in 2010, and approved by the FDA to prevent misuse and overdose.  Purdue Pharma, the drug maker of OxyContin, had developed a formula that altered its effects to suppress the immediate release of oxycodone. And if opioid mixed with water it becomes sticky, which makes it impossible to inject. Unfortunately, the abuse of Oxycontin is still on the rise.  Some of the most common street names for Oxycontin are Oxy, O.C, Orange County, Ox, beans, cotton and many more. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), oxycodone had been a source of abuse for over thirty years, and when OcyContin was developed in 1996 the abuse of this opioid had skyrocketed.

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What are the effects of Oxycontin use?

If a patient uses Oxycontin as prescribed by a medical professional, there are no risks involved in taking the medications. However, if a person misuses the drug by shorting or injection, the drug may become dangerous.  Many users compare the effects of Oxycontin similar to the effects of heroin. In recent statistics, it was reported that Oxycontin abuse had become much higher than heroin abuse. As a class of opioids that affect the central nervous system, Oxycontin may produce heroin-like effects, and even cause death. The following effects of Oxycontin abuse include the following:

  • shallow breathing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • constipation
  • confusion
  • skin irritations, rash, and hives
  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • loss of coordination
  • fainting
  • blurred vision
  • impaired decision making and judgment
  • coma
  • respiratory depression

What is Oxycontin addiction?

Similar to other opioids, oxycontin is very powerful and may lead to addiction. Patients who are prescribed Oxycontin, and are under a physician’s supervision, may be recommended to taper their use to prevent withdrawal symptoms.  There is no evidence of potential addiction if the drug is taken properly. However, if a patient continues taking this opioid without doctor’s orders, or if medication is taken as a recreational drug, the consequences may be dire. Misuse of oxycontin results in the development of tolerance to the opioid, that forces abuser to take higher dosages to achieve the same effects. Such misuse of drugs may lead to an addiction disorder.

What are the withdrawal symptoms of Oxycontin use?

The withdrawal symptom may occur when a person stops using the drug or attempts to reduce the number of opioids taken. Withdrawal symptoms from Oxycontin resemble any opioid type drugs, like heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone. The symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • rapid heart rate
  • insomnia
  • diarrhea
  • depression
  • muscle stiffness
  • vomiting
  • persistent cough
  • excessive sweating
  • anxiety and irritation
  • abdominal cramping
  • seizures
  • tremors
  • suicidal thoughts

What is the treatment for Oxycontin addiction?

A person who is struggling with addiction to Oxycontin is urged to seek help from a recovery specialist, who can develop a treatment plan based on the patient’s individual and personal needs. The evidence-based approach includes medically supervised detoxification, performed n a safe environment to rid the body of harmful toxins, and help ease withdrawal symptoms. Medication can be prescribed to overcome the effects of cravings and withdrawals. After successful completion of the detoxification process, the patient then transitions into a residential center to undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients to identify the cause of their drug use, learn the skills to cope with life’s stress, identify triggers for potential drug use, and understand how to avoid relapse.  A full comprehensive treatment may also include individual and group counseling, that reinforces the knowledge of addiction disorder,  and encourages peer participation. Family support during a recovery process is very crucial and is considered an important element of a successful recovery.


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