OxyContin (Oxycodone) Facts About Usage, Abuse, Addiction and Treatment

OxyContin (oxycodone HCI controlled-release) is the brand name for an opioid analgesic (pain reliever) -- a narcotic analgesic or painkiller (opiates). It is available by prescription only and is used to treat moderate to severe pain when around-the-clock analgesic is needed for an extended period of time. In the short term, drugs like OxyContin block pain messages and cause drowsiness. A large single dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Long-term use leads to physical dependence and, in some cases, addiction.

Like many prescription medications, OxyContin (oxycodone) can be very effective in treating individuals with the medical need for these medications; however, using these drugs without the supervision of a physician or for purposes different from their intended use can lead to serious adverse consequences, including death from overdose and physical addiction. When abused, prescription drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone) can be as addictive and dangerous as illegal street drugs. According to the office of Drug Control Policy, in 2006 prescription pain killers abuse now ranks second—only behind marijuana—as the Nation's most prevalent illegal drug problem.

What does it look like?

OxyContin is available in tablet form in 5 doses: 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160mg. (However, the manufacturer is no longer shipping 160mg).

What are the street names/slang terms for OxyContin?

Killers, OC, OXY, Oxycotton.

How is it used?

As pain medication, OxyContin is taken every 12 hours because the tablets contain a controlled, time-release formulation of the medication. Most pain medications must be taken every three to six hours. Oxycontin abusers remove the sustained-release coating to get a rapid release of the medication, causing a rush of euphoria similar to heroin.

What are its short-term effects?

The most serious risk associated with opioids, including OxyContin, is respiratory depression. Common opioid side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Taking a large single dose of an opioid could cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death.

What are its long-term effects?

Chronic use of opioids can result in tolerance for the drugs, which means that users must take higher doses to achieve the same initial effects. Long-term use also can lead to physical dependence and addiction -- the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped.Properly managed medical use of pain relievers is safe and rarely causes clinical addiction, defined as compulsive, often uncontrollable use of drugs. Taken exactly as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain effectively.

OxyContin Addiction Treatment

The widespread abuse of OxyContin and other prescription drugs has stimulated extensive efforts to develop treatment and detox programs for this type of opioid addiction. Medically-managed detox has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for people who are addicted to opiate drugs, including prescription painkillers like OxyContin (oxycodone). Patients are given medication such as Suboxone or Subutex (both medicines contain Buprenorphine hydrochloride) which work to reduce the symptoms of opiate dependence. Subutex and Suboxone are the first narcotic drugs available under the Drug Abuse Treatment Act (DATA) of 2000 for the treatment of opiate dependence that can be prescribed in a doctor’s office. In addition to medications and detox treatment, behavioral interventions, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can be effective in decreasing drug use by patients in treatment for OxyContin abuse. Providing the optimal combination of treatment services for each individual is critical to successful withdrawal and treatment outcome.

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