Rise of OxyContin Addiction in America

Rise of OxyContin Addiction in America

Oxycodone, an opiate pain reliever available by prescription, has been in use in Western countries since the beginning of the 20th century. It was created to address concerns with the addictive properties of heroin and morphine, widely used for pain management at the time. It was partially successful in that it did not produce the same level of euphoric high as heroin or morphine, and the high it did produce did not last as long. Oxycodone is primarily used in the U.S. as the active ingredient in Percocet, Percodan and other similar prescription medications.

While Percocet oxycodone has been abused for decades, wide spread abuse has been curtailed by the dangerous side effects of long-term use. Because Percocet also contains acetaminophen, it can cause severe liver damage when used longer than directed. In 1996, however, OxyContin (which does not contain acetaminophen) hit the American pharmaceutical market. Without acetaminophen in the formulation, OxyContin does not produce the same long-term side physical effects of Percocet.

Since it’s emergence, OxyContin oxycodone has been increasingly abused and sold on the underground market. It was widely marketed by its manufacturer and gained popularity with both doctors and individuals prone to abuse almost immediately. Most OxyContin pills are high in strength because they are meant for sustained release over 12 hours, which is extremely beneficial for chronic pain sufferers. The time-release coatings on these pills are easily removed however, allowing substance abusers to take the entire dosage at once.

OxyContin pills can be illegally obtained in a number or ways including “doctor shopping,” faking chronic pain, buying pills on the Internet from other countries and through underground dealers. At present, OxyContin is the most widely abused drug in America next to marijuana.

Click here to read the next part in the series, "Signs of OxyContin Addiction." Click here to return to the first part in the series, "Introduction to Oxycodone Abuse, Addiction and Treatment."

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