OxyContin is an opioid pain medication. Opioids are often referred to as narcotics and are morphine-like drugs. The OxyContin drug has a high risk for addiction and dependence. It is a pain medicine that, when prescribed, is to be used for around the clock pain management, not on an as-needed basis. When used properly it can give pain relief up to 12 hours. OxyContin should not be used by a person with severe asthma or breathing problems, or anyone with a blockage in their stomach or intestines.
Recently there has been a lot of media focus on OxyContin due to increasing reports of its abuse. People who abuse the drug crush the tablet and swallow or snort it, or they dilute it in water and inject it. This destroys the time-release mechanism so that the user gets the full effects of the narcotic. It is the high potency of oxycodone that makes OxyContin popular on the streets. Users compare the high to the euphoria of heroin.
Street names for the OxyContin drug include OC, Kicker, and Hillbilly heroin. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Oxycodone has been abused for over 30 years. But with the introduction to OxyContin in 1996, there has been a marked escalation of abuse. Because it reacts on the nervous system like heroin or opium, some abusers are using OxyContin as a substitute for, or supplement to, street opiates like heroin.
Physical Signs and Symptoms of OxyContin Drug Abuse
Constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness confusion, addiction, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, increased risk of heart attack, coma, death.
- Extreme drowsiness
- Pinpoint pupils
- Dry mouth
- Appearance of being disoriented or confused
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Persistent interpersonal problems
- Neglecting important work, school, or home obligations
- Weight loss
- Slurred speech
- Severe itching
- Intermittent, periodic euphoria and apathy
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Sleep apnea
Once a dependence on OxyContin has developed, quitting the drug will result in painful withdrawal symptoms. Some people relapse during oxycodone withdrawal because the symptoms are too intense. Others continue using oxycodone just to feel “normal” and avoid withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal can arise within hours of the last dose. Less frequent users may experience shorter, lighter symptoms similar to the flu. Long-term, heavy users are more likely to experience symptoms similar to those of heroin withdrawal. Because oxycodone is the active ingredient in these painkillers, the symptoms of Percocet withdrawal and OxyContin drug withdrawal will be very similar depending on the amount, duration and frequency of oxycodone use. Symptoms typically appear six to 24 hours after the last dose. Within the first few days, withdrawal will be at its peak. Most of the painful symptoms taper off by the end of the week. For some, intense psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a week to even years after quitting.
Spotting an Addiction
One key indicator of addiction is a marked change in behavior. If your loved one’s behavior changes unexpectedly to the point where you no longer recognize the person in front of you, drug abuse might be the cause. If the person is abusing prescription drugs recreationally, you might notice discarded pill bottles, white powder stains, or missing pills from your own supply. Money might go missing, or perhaps you might realize your partner can’t pay all the bills this month. If you’re concerned about yourself or someone you care about, don’t wait to get help.