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Addiction Facts – OxyContin

What is OxyContin?

OxyContin (“Oxy” or “OC” on the street) is a time-released pain medication developed in 1995 for people needing around-the-clock pain relief such as terminal cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers. OxyContin is an opium derivative that contains the same active ingredient as Percodan and Percocet. OxyContin is designed so that the active ingredient, oxycodone, is slowly released over time.

Oxycodone is a white, odorless, crystalline powder derived from the opium alkaloid, the same opioid that’s in Percocet, Oxycocet and Endocet. Both Percocet and OxyContin relieve pain, Percocet providing relief for about five hours while the effects of OxyContin last for about 12 hours.

OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release) tablets are an opioid analgesic supplied in 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg tablet strengths for oral administration. The tablet strengths describe the amount of oxycodone per tablet.

The most commonly abused OxyContin is the 40 mg tablets, although all strengths have been encountered.

What’s the difference between Percocet and OxyContin?

Percocet contains five milligrams of oxycodone, which is all released when the pill is taken. Percocet also contains acetaminophen (the drug in Tylenol), which makes people sick if they take a lot of it. OxyContin doesn’t contain acetaminophen. It is pure oxycodone in amounts much larger than in Percocet. In Canada. Just one OxyContin pill can have the same amount of oxycodone as 16 Percocet pills.

How does OxyContin work?

OxyContin providies pain relief by acting on opioid receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and possibly in the tissues directly. Opioids, natural or synthetic classes of drugs that act like morphine, are the most effective pain relievers available.

How is OxyContin used?

When used properly, OxyContin contains a time-release mechanism that spreads the release of the drug over a 12-hour period. The time-release mechanism can be circumvented by crushing the tablet and the drug can be used in one of the following ways:

  • The tablets can be chewed
  • The tablets can be crushed, then snorted like cocaine
  • The tablets can be crushed, dissolved in water, then injected like heroin

Why would someone abuse OxyContin?

OxyContin abuse is spreading for a variety of reasons. First, the elevated opiate dosage makes it highly addictive. Second, in contrast to drugs such as cocaine or heroin that can be laced with other substances, with OxyContin you know how much of the drug you are getting. Since the dosage is consistent, it delivers a dependable high. Finally, OxyContin is covered by most health insurance plans, so it is significantly cheaper than street drugs.

OxyContin is a leading treatment for chronic pain, but officials fear it may succeed crack cocaine as the drug of choice on the street.

What are the effects of OxyContin?

OxyContin will give you a high much like high grade heroin but with worse consequences. A 5mg tablet of OxyContin has as many active ingredients as one Percocet. So, chewing or snorting a 40mg tablet of OxyContin is similar to taking eight Percocets at once.   Users of OxyContin may experience euphoria, a feeling of relaxation and calm and/or a sensation of being stoned or high.

What are the side effects of OxyContin?

Respiratory depression is the chief hazard of OxyContin. Respiratory depression occurs most frequently in elderly or debilitated patients, usually following large initial doses in non-tolerant patients. There is also a big risk when OxyContin is given in conjunction with other substances that depress respiration. Common OxyContin side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and
weakness. The side effects of OxyContin include but are not limited to:

  • Oxycodone may affect the stomach and small intestine, delaying digestion of food and ultimately causing spasms that result in constipation
  • Oxycodone may produce release of histamine which can cause severe itching, flushing, red eyes, and sweating,
  • While under the influence, some people may be unable to concentrate.

What is OxyContin addiction?

Physical addiction to OxyContin develops when an individual is exposed to the drug at a high enough dose for an extended period of time and the user’s body develops a tolerance for the OxyContin. This means higher doses are needed to achieve the drug’s original effects.

OxyContin mimics the action of chemicals in your brain that send messages of pleasure to your brain’s reward centre, producing an artificial feeling of pleasure. The pleasurable feelings short circuit the motivation to make life’s normal rewards work. More and more confidence is placed in OxyContin while other survival feelings are ignored. The result of this addiction cycle is a lack of concern for, and confidence in, other areas of life.

What are the symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal?

OxyContin withdrawal is similar to heroin withdrawal in that it is almost impossible to go through alone. Withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin are worse than heroin and last longer. Professional help from a drug rehab center is the best and safest way to do this. Unfortunately, there is no known “painless” method for OxyContin withdrawal.
OxyContin withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • perpetually being tired
  • hot/cold sweats
  • heart palpitations
  • joints and muscles in constant pain
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • uncontrollable coughing
  • diarrhea
  • insomnia
  • watery eyes
  • excessive yawning
  • depression

What are the symptoms of an OxyContin overdose?

Those who abuse OxyContin typically crush the tablets for faster release of oxycodone, which can potentially result in a dangerous or fatal overdose. An overdose of OxyContin is serious and may require hospitalization. Occasionally, individuals must be temporarily hooked to a ventilator until the OxyContin wears off.
Indications of an OxyContin overdose are:

  • slow breathing (respiratory depression)
  • seizures
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma
  • confusion
  • tiredness
  • cold and clammy skin
  • small pupils
  • reduced vision
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • clouding of mental functions

Signs of OxyContin Addiction

OxyContin is a legal narcotic that is available, by prescription, to treat severe pain. It has a high potential for drug addiction and is only available by prescription from a licensed physician.

OxyContin addiction will leave the user suffering physically painful symptoms if their bodies do not get more OxyContin. Signs of OxyContin addiction can include insomnia, muscle and bone pain, sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramping, muscle twitching, as well as other physical effects.

When patients are in extreme pain and take OxyContin as directed, or to the
point where their pain is adequately controlled, it is not abuse or addiction. Abuse occurs when patients take more than is needed for pain control, especially if they take it to get high. Patients who take their medication in a manner that grossly differs from a physician’s directions are probably abusing that drug.

If a patient continues to seek excessive pain medication after pain management is achieved, the patient may be addicted. Signs of OxyContin addiction included but are not limited to:

  • Slow breathing (less than ten breaths a minute is really serious trouble)
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion
  • Being tired, nodding off, or passing out
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Apathy (they don’t care about anything)
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Many signs of OxyContin addiction lead people to think their friend is drunk. And they may be tempted to let them sleep it off, or tell their parents they had too much to drink. But don’t.  Seek immediate medical help.

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