Addiction to Oxycontin® is as severe as heroin, and may also
require treatment at an Oxycontin
Oxycontin is prescribed for chronic pain such as back pain, cancer,
The active ingredient in Oxycontin is oxycodone. Oxycontin also comes
in capsule or liquid form. Oxycontin is also referred to as oxy,
O.C., OxyCotton, Oxy 80 and killer.
Oxycontin is legitimately prescribed as a timed-release tablet,
providing relief from chronic pain for 12 hours. Generally, pain
sufferers need to take the pill only twice a day, whereas another
medication would require more frequent use to control the pain.
Oxycontin abuse has increased dramatically in recent years. An Oxycontin
abuser can easily develop a physical craving. Oxycontin abusers may
crush the tablet and ingest or snort it - or they may dilute it in
water and inject it to get a quick, strong high. This can lead to
a toxic overdose, releasing too much of the medication into the bloodstream
Respiratory depression is the most serious risk associated with
Oxycontin, and should not be combined with other substances that
slow down breathing, including alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates,
Other common side effects include: nausea, constipation, vomiting,
headache, dry mouth, dizziness, sweating, and weakness.
Addiction to Oxycontin can be as powerful as that of heroin. Chronic
abuse of Oxycontin leads to increased tolerance, so higher doses
must be taken to receive the initial high. Oxycontin will be come
physically addictive over time, causing withdrawal symptoms when
the drug is not present. Oxycontin is a powerful drug that contains
a much larger amount of the active ingredient, oxycodone, than other
prescription pain relievers. By crushing the tablet and either ingesting
or snorting it, or by injecting diluted Oxycontin, abusers feel the
powerful effects in a short time.
Abuse, crime and fatal overdoses have all been linked to Oxycontin
addiction. Many reports of Oxycontin abuse occur in rural, economically
depressed areas, where the temptation to make extra income may make
some people sell their Oxycontin prescriptions for profit. Those
addicted to Oxycontin will go to great lengths to get the drug, including
writing fake prescriptions and robbing pharmacies.
Most people who take OxyContin as prescribed do not become addicted.
Individuals who are taking the drug as prescribed should continue
to do so, as long as they and their physician agree that taking
the drug is a medically appropriate way for them to manage pain.
Pain patients, however, may sometimes develop a physical dependence
during treatment, that is not an addiction. A gradual decrease
of the medication dose over time, as the pain is resolving, brings
the former pain patient to a drug-free state without any craving
for repeated doses of the drug.
If the addicted patient continues to have a strong and uncontrollable
craving it almost always leads to eventual relapse in the absence
of adequate treatment. It is this uncontrollable craving that
differentiates the OxyContin addicted patient from the former
pain patient. OxyContin abuse occurs when patients take more than
is needed for pain control. Addiction is characterized by the
repeated, compulsive use of OxyContin despite adverse social,
psychological, and/or physical consequences. OxyContin addiction
is often (but not always) accompanied by physical dependence,
withdrawal syndrome, and tolerance.
The absence of this substance produces symptoms of withdrawal,
characterized by overactivity of the physiologic functions that
were suppressed by the drug and/or depression of the functions
that were stimulated by the drug. This drug often causes sleepiness,
calmness, and constipation, so OxyContin withdrawal often includes
insomnia, anxiety, and diarrhea.
Supervised Oxycontin withdrawal followed by a few months of abstinence-oriented
treatment might be sufficient for the nonaddicted patient who
abuses OxyContin. If, however, this patient subsequently relapses,
then that would support a diagnosis of OxyContin addiction, and
may require treatment.
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