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Article Summary

About OxyContin

OxyContin is very commonly prescribed long-acting analgesic, which is used medically for the treatment of moderate to severe acute and chronic pain. Since first being marketed in 1996, OxyContin has grown into a billion dollar industry. The semi-synthetic opioid oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin, which provides its pain relieving properties. One OxyContin tablet can contain anywhere between 10 and 160 milligrams of the narcotic pain killer. OxyContin is the longest-acting analgesic on the market, and can provide pain relief for up to 12 hours. Due to the fact that it is an opioid narcotic, rates of abuse and dependence are very high with OxyContin and it is currently one of the most abused prescription drugs.

What is OxyContin?

The way that opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin work is that they cause certain chemical reactions in the brain and central nervous system which ultimately blocks the individual's perception of pain. These are also the same areas of the body that are affected by heroin use for example, and this is why the drug can be abused. If using OxyContin to get high, individuals who are either prescribed the drug legitimately or have acquired it illicitly will take the drug in a high enough dose to produce a high that is similar to one that the individual would experience if they had taken heroin or another type of opiate. Due to these narcotic-like effects, individuals can begin abusing the drug even if they have been prescribed OxyContin under legitimate circumstances. It is also common for individuals who abuse drugs such as heroin and other opiates to abuse OxyContin as it produces such similar effects. And because prescription opioids are less stigmatized than more hardcore street drugs such as heroin, drugs like OxyContin are abused broadly by a wide range of people and has become known as the "White Collar" heroin.

OxyContin is dispensed in the form of a time-released tablet and it meant to be swallowed whole. However, individuals who abuse OxyContin may choose to administer the drug in a variety of ways which provide a more intense high. For example, OxyContin tablets can be crushed and insufflated (snorted). This causes the narcotic to go directly into to the bloodstream through the nasal tissues producing an almost instant and intense high. Illicit users may also choose to dilute OxyContin and inject the drug intravenously. Similar to injection of heroin, this method of administration provides an almost instance intense rush of euphoria for about 5 hours. Because OxyContin is a time-released narcotic, abusing the drug in this manner may cause a toxic and fatal overdose. Like all other drugs which are injected, individuals who choose the intravenous method of administration are putting themselves at risk of contracting a number of blood borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, both of which could result in loss of life.

OxyContin Addiction

If an individual abused OxyContin and takes too high of a dose, or is not yet tolerant to such opioid products, they are at risk of sometimes serious side effects and consequences, some of which can be life threatening. OxyContin overdoses may result in such serious consequences as loss of consciousness, seizures, hypotension, cardiac or respiratory arrest, coma and death. This is especially the case if the individual chooses to mix OxyContin with other substances which slow respiratory function such as alcohol. This is not a small problem, and OxyContin overdose is more common than one would like. In 2010 for example, 5,647 Florida residents died with one or more prescription drugs in their system, with OxyContin being responsible for the majority of these deaths.

OxyContin is not just available from your local pharmacist or medicine cabinet, and can be found being sold on the street right where hardcore street drugs are being sold. This is a multi-million dollar racket for the drug dealers, who hike up the price of each pill significantly to make an astounding profit. One regularly priced OxyContin tablet can run you about $4, but on the street the drug dealers charge anywhere from $20 to $40 for the same tablet. When being purchased illicitly, users are always running the risk of buying something they are being told is OxyContin when it may actually be something else. Illicit street buyers of the drug are therefore at risk of taking something which may actually cause a severe adverse reaction or worse yet a toxic overdose.

It is very common for individuals who are addicted to pharmaceutical drugs such as OxyContin to obtain their drugs by means of "doctor shopping". Addicted individuals will go from doctor to doctor, sometimes daily, complaining of this and that non-existent ailment in order to get a valid prescription for the drug. Because addicted individuals will typically not be able to hold a job, they also engage in illegal activity such as writing bad checks to pay for such doctor visits. On the flip side, the lengths that OxyContin addicted individuals will go to in order to obtain their drug of choice can be much worse and violent. Pharmacy robberies and thefts are extremely common amongst individuals who wish to get their OxyContin by any means possible. Addicted individuals will also commonly partake in health care fraud as part of their scam to continue abuse of the drug.

OxyContin Addiction Treatment

Due to how quickly individuals will develop a physical dependence to OxyContin, it can be very hard if not impossible to quit on one's own. If someone has been chronically abusing OxyContin, this dependence will ultimately result in physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. These symptoms can be similar to if not as severe as symptoms of heroin withdrawal, which is one of the worst types of drug withdrawal. This is why individuals who find themselves addicted to OxyContin will typically need assistance coming off of the drug and staying off of the drug. There are a variety of drug rehab programs available which treat OxyContin addiction. A drug rehab programs which treat OxyContin addiction understand the challenges involved in treatment opiate addiction and have the tools and wherewithal to help individuals through this process so they can become rehabilitated.

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