What Is OxyContin®?
OxyContin® is a pharmaceutical opioid analgesic that is used to ease severe, chronic pain. OxyContin is a brand name for the chemical Oxycodone. The drug plays a major role in the Opioid epidemic. The drug became legal and deemed safe to use in the United States around 1995 and is available in 10mg, 20mg, 40mg, and 80mg tablets. Other names OxyContin goes by include:
- Hillbilly Heroin
A noteworthy element of the drug are the varying pill colors and shapes they are available in, due to the dosage or a generic version. Typically, OxyContin are in the form of a white, round small pill; however, some pills are pink, yellow, blue, beige, and green in color. Lastly, some pills are rectangle in shape rather than circular.
Like other commonly used prescription Opioids, Oxycontin carries a high risk of dependence for addiction and should only be used as prescribed. Startling numbers of people with chronic pain and chemical dependencies to OxyContin continue to rise. In previous years, (from 2001 to 2003), there was a:
- 145% increase in 10mg pills (1392 to 2022 tablets)
- 262% increase in 20mg pills (1234 to 3231 tablets)
- 452% increase in 40mg pills (848 to 3836 tablets)
- 451% increase in 80mg tablets (367 to 1655 tablets)
In 2016, there was a total of 14,693,850 Oxycodone prescriptions written for individuals in the United States. The surge is partially from patients enduring more chronic pain, but a major component is due to patients abusing OxyContin or becoming increasingly dependent on the pills. In many cases, patients resort to doctor shopping, or visiting multiple doctors, to get more OxyContin pills.
Individuals finding themselves becoming tolerant to Oxycontin typically begin to feel like their dose is no longer offering them the same feeling. The doctor may have been prescribed 10mg or 20mg to the patient, and after months of taking the medication, they take more. 1 pill becomes 2, which becomes 3, and so on. Since the effects of the medication are now seeming less effective, they will end up taking a higher dosage or more pills.
OxyContin Dependence and Withdrawal
Similar to an Oxycontin tolerance, a dependence often includes an individual taking a higher number of pills to feel “normal.” Unlike a tolerance, there are withdrawal symptoms. The individual taking OxyContin for months, for example, has become used to the effects of the medication. They may, at this point, be using the pills for other reasons unrelated to their prescribed purpose, such as endorphins or the “high,” which may be a sign of a developing addiction.
Once patients stop taking the drug, they endure uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, which, unfortunately, cause some to continue abusing OxyContin. Withdrawal symptoms are worse if people stop taking OxyContin suddenly. Going “cold turkey” shocks the system and doesn’t allow the body and mind to process being without the drug. Symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal occur within 6 to 30 hours, and include:
- Muscle aches
- Depression/ low moods
- Dry mouth
Stopping a highly addictive substance like OxyContin should be done with the care of a medical professional. Don’t hesitate to contact a treatment provider to discover treatment options.
Combining OxyContin With Other Drugs
Opioids are highly addictive substances that can result in death. Several factors contributing to fatal overdoses include the amount of pills someone has taken, or a combination of OxyContin and other substance. In particular, combining Opioids with other Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (such as other Opioids, alcohol or Benzodiazepines) has the potential to lead to respiratory depression, overdose, coma, or death. In addition to an increased risk of fatal overdoses, people taking prescription opiates with alcohol can risk loss of coordination and unconsciousness.
Expectant Mothers and OxyContin Abuse
Expectant mothers may be prescribed OxyContin® in order to deal with chronic pain during pregnancy. Because of the highly addictive nature of OxyContin®, pregnant women are generally advised to not take the medication. If women were abusing OxyContin® before they became pregnant, they may find themselves abusing the pills while pregnant, unknowingly causing their unborn baby harm.
Babies absorb chemicals from drugs and alcohol through the mother’s bloodstream and through breastmilk, gaining exposure to the effects of the drugs. Babies, in turn, become born with “addictions” and even endure the pain of withdrawal symptoms. Because their bodies have not developed the strength to endure withdrawal symptoms of powerful Opioids, babies are born addicted. This is known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome experience the following symptoms:
- High-pitched shrill
- Violent tremors
- Low body weight
- Sleep difficulties
In order for babies to heal from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, medical professionals administer various methods of treatment. In rare cases, infants can experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Taking Control Is the First Step to Sobriety
Millions of Americans suffer from Opioid use disorders, and fatally overdose due to Opioid abuse. Take control of your life. There is help available. Contact a treatment provider to discuss treatment options.