OxyContin is a prescription opiate drug provided for pain relief. It is a strong medicine, comparable to morphine, that releases potent substances throughout the body for twelve hours. It is an effective drug when used for pain, but its potency as an opiate makes it easy to abuse, or fall into a pattern of abuse unintentionally. OxyContin addiction involves a high level of physical and mental dependency that can take a monumental effort to break.
What is OxyContin?
It first appeared in the market during the mid-nineties, as an alternative to regular pain relievers and other opioids of its nature that have to be taken every few hours. Instead, it releases over time to provide consistent relief for individuals inflicted with moderate to severe pain levels. However, the timed release can be subverted by abusers, and even people taking the recommended dosage is considered at risk of developing an addiction. As early as six years after its initial distribution, OxyContin because of the best-selling non-generic medicine in the United States, and remains a popular drug, legally and otherwise.
Short Term Effects
People taking it for pain relief usually only feel that pain subside. People who abuse OxyContin by taking it without need, snort or inject it do so to get high and are more susceptible to other side effects.
Along with the intended effects, anyone who takes it may experience:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, headache and unusual fatigue
- Diminished or lost physical strength
- Indigestion, loss of appetite, and stomach pain
- Trouble sleeping and strange dreams
Short-term effects vary from person to person. Some may experience no negative consequences, others may experience worse. OxyContin, especially when misused, can disrupt the body’s equilibrium and dramatically impact a person’s mental and emotional state.
Long-Term Effects of OxyContin Use
Over time and with a consistent use or abuse, OxyContin’s side effects become more dangerous both physically and mentally. People with a dependency undergo behavioral changes that negatively affect their social lives, and suffer from physical inhibitions that make it even more appealing to withdraw from the world.
Many of the long-term effects of OxyContin use are synonymous with a physical dependency or addiction:
- Decreased motivation
- Erratic or irrational behavior
- Disinterest in former passions
- Lethargy, oversleeping or insomnia
- Stomach pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Joint and muscle pain
The negative effects of long-term use of OxyContin may not go away after a person stops taking it. Individuals inflicted with an addiction to the drug will, in fact, find themselves in worse pain without it. Like any opiate, OxyContin withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable. Many of the above symptoms repeat themselves for a period ranging from weeks to months, and less severe withdrawal symptoms will persist for longer. It is highly beneficial that addicts seek inpatient care to help them adjust without relapsing. Often, the withdrawal symptoms will force people back into their addictions on their own.
Prevalence of OxyContin Addiction
OxyContin continues to be one of the most heavily abused prescription drugs available.
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 6.1 Million people abuse prescription drugs every month and that 52 million people over the age of twelve have done so in their lives.
- In 2010, an estimated 5.1 million people abused painkillers out of 8.76 million prescription drug abusers.
- According to the CDC, there was nearly 15 thousand prescription painkiller-related deaths in 2008.