OxyContin is one of the most commonly abused opioid medications in the United States. Although it is a prescription medication, the drug comes with some negative consequences, effects, and dangerous. Using it for any other reason or in any other way than your doctor recommended could cause you to suffer both in the long term as well as in the short term.
OxyContin is a brand name drug for oxycodone. It is typically prescribed by physicians and doctors for the relief of pain. If you use this drug exactly as your doctor recommended, it can be effective at managing pain.
Unfortunately, millions of people abuse this powerful opioid pain relief medication. When this happens, many of them end up struggling with an opioid use disorder, or an addiction. The only way to overcome this problem is by seeking professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation services.
The drug is also classified as a semi-synthetic opioid drug that can be effective at managing moderate to relatively severe pain. Doctors prescribe it for clients who are dealing with issues like cancer recovery as well as those who were injured physically.
As a controlled release pill or capsule, the drug contains oxycodone as its primary ingredient. If you use it as prescribed, you need to take it orally where it will dissolve into your bloodstream slowly over a period of around 12 hours.
However, the drug is also widely available today - both on the internet as well as on the streets. Those who sell and buy it illegally use a number of street names to avoid detection by figures in authority, such as law enforcement officials and so on. These street names for OxyContin include OC, Oxycotton, Oxy, and drugstore heroin.
A brand name drug, OxyContin is one of the most potent synthetic opiate pain relief medications available on the market today. Doctors typically prescribe to the management of moderate to very severe pain.
This makes the drug quite useful for people who have been struggling with the symptoms of chronic pain as a result of issues like severe burns, heart attack, bone pain, and cancer treatment.
Produced in a time-release formulation, the rug can provide hours of continuous relief from pain especially if you are dealing with unremitting pain. The DEA - the Drug Enforcement Administration - has classified it as a schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act passed by the federal government.
This effectively means that the drug has some medical uses but also comes with a high potential for abuse, diversion, dependence, and addiction. For this reason, it is only available through a valid prescription. That said, the drug is also sold over the internet.
The oxycodone content in this drug is similar to heroin. Apart from pain management, it also produces an euphoric and pleasurable high due to the stimulation that it causes on the reward and pleasure centers of the brain.
Through this mode of action, oxycodone elevates the levels of dopamine - a neurotransmitter that the brain produces naturally. This neurotransmitter is the pleasure chemical that the brain uses to produce pleasurable effects after you have engaged in happy activities, such as watching a nice movie or eating a delicious meal.
If you start abusing OxyContin, you may do so in various ways. You may crush the capsules into a fine powder that you then snort. Alternatively, you may chew the pills directly. The other route of administration would be to crush the pills before dissolving the resulting powder into a solution like water so that you can shoot it up - or take it through an intravenous injection.
In the past, all these routes of administration were effective at destroying the extended release coating that is on the drug. However, you need to realize that abusing this medication can increase your risk of suffering a drug overdose.
In 2013, OxyContin was reformulated so that it would be harder for people to crush the tablets. The goal was to ensure that fewer people would be able to abuse the drug as they used to in the past.
As mentioned above, addiction to this drug occurs because of its impact on the brain. When you take it, it will trigger your brain into producing dopamine in excess amounts. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the brain produces to create sensations and feelings of wellness and happiness. Using OxyContin, to this end, will cause you to feel euphoric pleasure.
The release of dopamine after taking this drug will also make your brain think that it is a pleasure for you to use the medication. Eventually, it will reinforce the behavior of seeking out as well as taking the drug. Over time, this will lead to the development of tolerance.
When tolerance occurs, you will not be able to experience the pleasurable effects that your brain has come to associate with OxyContin if you take it at the same level, volume, or frequency that you used to in the past.
As a result, you will find that you need to take this drug in higher doses or more frequently so that you can recreate the intense sensation and euphoria that you remember from the first time you used it.
In the course of your substance abuse, you will find that you have develop dependence. This means that you will not be able to go for any extended period of time without using this drug.
Dependence will occur because the medication would have caused chemical changes in your brain due to long term substance use. In case you try to reduce your normal dose of the drug or completely stop using it, you will experience intense and uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. This would be a sign that you have already become addicted to OxyContin.
After addiction has developed, you will have to engage in behavior that you were not initially accustomed to just so that you can get your hands on more of the drug. You may, for instance, using someone else's medication, borrow prescriptions, fake prescription slips, and even engage in doctor shopping where you visit several doctors in the hope that they will also give you a prescription for the drug.
Once you get to this point, you would already be aware that you have developed an opioid use disorder linked to this medication. However, you may not be able to stop seeking and abusing it unless you enroll in a professional addiction treatment and rehabilitation center - even in the face of the negative consequences and risky behavior that your growing drug problem has been leading you towards.
As mentioned above, when you abuse this drug you will often chew, crush and snort, or dissolve and inject its capsules and tablets. You may also smoke it on tin foil. All these routes of administration will enable you to override the time-release feature that is embedded on the pills. They will also cause the effects of the medication to flood your brain.
Abusing OxyContin will engage the neurotransmitters of the brain to produce an euphoric state or intense high that is similar to that produced when you abuse opium or heroin. It is for this reason that the drug is now only available in crush-proof tablets that are resistant to tamper with if you wish to inject or snort the drug. However, people still continue abusing this opioid pain relief medication.
Ongoing substance abuse involving this drug can lead to a number of negative side effects and consequences. These include but are not limited to:
It is also important to note that OxyContin is one of the most powerful and highly addictive medications available today. When you engage in this type of substance abuse, there is also a risk that you may suffer a drug overdose.
Essentially, taking the drug in high levels will cause you to suffer from its effects - because your body will not be able to handle the drug or process it out of your system. This could cause issues like a depression of the respiratory system - up to a point where it eventually fails. Alternatively, you may suffer permanent brain damage.
Once you have become dependent on this medication, you will start going to just about any length to acquire more of it. For instance, you may fake the symptoms of pain so that a doctor could give you a new prescription for the drug. Alternatively, you may even engage in doctor shopping. In extreme cases, you could harm yourself just so that a doctor can prescribe the medication for you.
The healthcare system has been improving the identification of drug seeking tendencies. This might force you into illegal means of acquiring the drug. For instance, you may convince your loved ones and family members to give you their prescriptions. When this stops working, you will eventually find yourself looking for the drug on the streets or over the internet.
Another problem associated with OxyContin abuse and addiction is that it can lead to the abuse of other stronger and more potent opioids - such as fentanyl and heroin. These two drugs are infinitely more dangerous and could cause even more problems in your life.
The volume of OxyContin that it will take to cause you to suffer a drug overdose will vary from one person to the next. It will largely depend on the size of your body, your metabolic rate, as well as on any other medications that you might also be using at the same time.
However, you need to realize that taking even one dose of this medication incorrectly could turn out to be fatal. On the other hand, snorting and injecting the drug to bypass its slow-release mechanism will cause it to be released in full into your system (a process that should ideally take place in 12 hours). This could be enough to lead to a drug overdose.
Irrespective of how you suffer an OxyContin overdose, the following are some of the signs and symptoms that you might suffer:
It is much more likely that you will suffer an overdose on this medication if you are also using other substances of abuse. Unfortunately, this is a high possibility especially because people who take OxyContin also abuse other drugs.
In case you are addicted to OxyContin, it is essential that you get help as soon as possible. In many cases, this help will be offered at drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities on an inpatient or an outpatient basis.
When you first check into a rehab center, you will have to go through medically supervised detoxification. The goal of this process would be to manage your drug cravings as well as deal with any of the withdrawal symptoms that will arise when you give up this medication or start tapering off from its abuse. These symptoms of withdrawal might include but are not limited to:
The goal of detoxification would be to manage these symptoms as well as help you overcome your physical dependence on the drug. Even after you have completed detox, however, you will still need additional recovery services.
The right type of addiction treatment will largely depend on how much of the drug you were abusing, how long the substance use problem was going on for, how frequently you took the drug, as well as the level of your personal health. It may also depend on the support that you have back at home as well as your family history of addiction to OxyContin and other drugs.