OxyContin is a semi-synthetic opiate that is a popular brand of a powerful painkiller named oxycodone. OxyContin is a prescription opioid that is used in pain management to treat mild to severe pain. These medications are typically prescribed to patients who have suffered an injury or who have cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved OxyContin, the extended-release form of the drug, in 1995 subject to the same restrictions as other forms of oxycodone.
A recent study of statistics showed that approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients who were prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. When OxyContin is taken as prescribed it is a controlled-release form of oxycodone pills and is dispersed slowly into the bloodstream over a 12-hour period. When these opiates are found on the street, they are considered illicit drugs and referred to as drugstore heroin, OxyCotton, Oxy, or OC.
You may wonder how to tell if someone is on OxyContin. There is no clear-cut way to know if someone is using opioids. Some side effects that these drugs cause are:
- Dry mouth
- Constricted pupils
- Slowed breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
What are Prescription Opioids?
Prescription opioids are drugs that are used for the treatment of certain health conditions that cause pain in patients. Opioids are prescription medications that act on opioid receptors in both the spinal cord and brain to reduce the intensity of pain-signal perception.
Prescription opioid medications include Oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl, codeine, oxymorphone (Opana), and others.
How do Opioids Work?
An opioid works by attaching itself to opioid receptor proteins in nerve cells found in the spinal cord, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. When they are attached, they begin to inhibit the pain signals. This often results in feelings of relaxation, drowsiness, mental confusion, constipation, nausea, and respiratory depression.
When these drugs are taken at higher doses than intended or taken not as directed it acts on brain regions involved in reward causing feelings of euphoria. When people take them in ways other than directed there is a much higher likelihood of overdose to occur.
Who Abuses OxyContin?
According to the United States Department of Justice, more than 13 million Americans abuse oxycodone. Among this group could include young adults and even children.
OxyContin diversion and abuse have become a major problem in certain areas of the United States, particularly rural areas, and Appalachia. Despite the dangers of the drug, many people still abuse oxycodone and often use it with alcohol. Some have developed a tolerance, while others do not realize the risk of addiction or overdose in taking these prescription drugs.
Drug Overdose Deaths and Dangers
One of the most significant dangers and risks that come with taking OxyContin or oxycodone is the chance for an overdose from the medication. These substances make changes in the brain to help reduce pain receptors, but along with this they also interact with parts of the brain that control breathing. If too much of the drug is taken it could turn into a true medical emergency, or drug overdose rendering medical advice right away.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 70,000 people in the United States died from an opioid-involved drug overdose in 2019. This number has remained steady and growing since 1999 and this number includes a drug overdose from illicit drugs.
Deaths involving other synthetic opioids other than methadone (primarily fentanyl) continued to rise with more than 36,359 overdose deaths reported in 2019.
The following are the most common OxyContin overdose symptoms:
- Slowed or shallow breathing
- Extreme sleepiness
- Uncontrolled vomiting
- Constricted pupils
- Cessation of breathing
Due to the potent effects of these drugs, there is a high potential for drug abuse and OxyContin addiction. When OxyContin/Oxycodone is taken as prescribed by a doctor, there is less likely a chance for abuse, but dependence can always occur depending on the dose of the medication.
There was a time when substance abuse and addiction were mostly associated with illicit drugs like heroin or meth. OxyContin prescriptions can be easily found in a person’s medicine cabinet, which means it is easy to access them. Typically, when someone is suffering from OxyContin abuse, they will crush, snort, inject or chew the drug. OxyContin tablets or capsules are often chewed or crushed and snorted, mixed into a solution, and injected, or smoked on tin foil.
Some statistics assessing current criteria for opioid use disorder (OUD) in many chronic pain patients receiving opioids found that 28.1 percent had mild OUD, 9.7 percent had moderate OUD, and 3.5 percent had severe OUD (addiction). This number has remained steady and will more than likely continue to grow.
Overall, drug overdose deaths rose from 2018 to 2019 with 70,630 drug overdose deaths reported in 2019. When these prescription medicines are broken down, they no longer have the time-release feature which means that the drugs flood the brain with the drug, which produces an intense “high” and euphoric state like opium or heroin for the person using the drug. With these effects, many people have abused OxyContin and they are highly addictive.
Signs of OxyContin Opioid Abuse and Addiction
Common signs of OxyContin addiction and Opioid abuse:
- Doctor shopping to get prescribed OxyContin
- Taking OxyContin or Oxycodone from family members
- Using prescriptions inappropriately by crushing, chewing, or snorting the pills
- You experience withdrawal symptoms upon quitting the drugs
- Taking the drug with other medications or alcohol
- Needing more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect
- Continuing to take the drug despite adverse consequences or potential health problems
When certain drugs are taken in combination with OxyContin it can be dangerous and even life-threatening. For example, taking alcohol and OxyContin at the same time can be fatal due to the sedative effects.
Behavioral Treatment Facilities
Despite the rise in addiction, it is possible to get proper rehab with the help of a treatment provider. There are many treatment centers across the country that specialize in different types of addiction, including OxyContin abuse.
Treatment centers around the U.S. offer treatment options such as counseling, addiction education, and other information on recovery for educational purposes. Inland Detox is a leading substance abuse treatment center that works with clients to help them move toward recovery. If you are looking for a healthcare provider to assist you with your recovery, please contact our team for more information.
Treatment at Inland Detox
Inland Detox is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in Temecula, CA. We are a leading treatment provider in the U.S. and our professional care team will work individually with each client to determine the proper addiction treatment plan.
Some of our treatment options include detox care, nutrition and life counseling, family counseling, and other holistic care for treating addiction. We treat all different types of addiction, including heroin to prescriptions like OxyCodone/OxyContin. Despite what some may think, taking a prescription even for a health problem can lead to dependence, addiction, or drug overdose deaths.
Even if addiction has not happened directly to you, it still may affect the entire family. We believe it is important to include the entire family unit during treatment to ensure that everyone is treated and heard during the process.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and is looking for treatment options, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you in your treatment recovery today! It is not too late to get help now. We hope the information provided has clarified the risks and dangers of OxyContin and other opioids.