OxyContin® is a prescription painkiller used for moderate to high pain relief associated with injuries, bursitis, dislocations, fractures, neuralgia, arthritis, lower back pain, and pain associated with cancer.

OxyContin® contains oxycodone, the medication’s active ingredient, in a timed-release tablet.

Oxycodone products have been illicitly abused for the past 30 years. Oxycodone is a Schedule II narcotic analgesic and is widely used in clinical medicine. It is marketed either alone as controlled release (OxyContin®) and immediate release formulations (OxyIR®, OxyFast®), or in combination with other nonnarcotic analgesics such as aspirin (Percodan®) or acetaminophen (Percocet®).

The introduction in 1996 of OxyContin®, commonly known on the street as OC, OX, Oxy, Oxycotton, Hillbilly heroin, and kicker, led to a marked escalation of its abuse as reported by drug abuse treatment centers, law enforcement personnel, and health care professionals. Although the diversion and abuse of OxyContin® appeared initially in the eastern US, it has now spread to the western US including Alaska and Hawaii.

Oxycodone-related adverse health effects increased markedly in recent years. In 2004, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for marketing generic forms of controlled release oxycodone products.

Oxycodone is a potentially addictive opioid analgesic medication synthesized from thebaine. It is a commonly used medication for treatment of pain in cancer patients. It was developed in 1916 in Germany and introduced to the pharmaceutical market as Eukodal® (also spelled Eucodal) and Dinarkon®. Its chemical name is derived from codeine – the chemical structures are very similar, differing only in that the hydroxyl group of codeine has been oxidized (hence the “oxy” prefix) to a carbonyl group (as in ketones), hence the “one” suffix, the 7.8-dihydro-feature (Codeine has a double-bond between those two carbons), and the hydroxyl group at carbon 9 (codeine has just a hydrogen there), hence “oxy”codone. In the United States, oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance both as a single agent and in combination with products containing paracetamol (aka acetaminophen), ibuprofen or aspirin. It was first introduced to the US market in May 1939.

Symptoms of Abuse

Oxycontin side effects can include physical dependence when oxycontin is used for a long period of time. Physical dependence is the condition in which an oxycontin user’s body will show negative effects when the oxycontin use is suddenly stopped. Another common oxycontin side effect is addiction, which can commonly occur to users of mind-altering drugs. A serious oxycontin side effect that can occur when the drug is used is death. Other, less dangerous oxycontin side effects are dizziness and confusion, shortness of breath, constipation, sweating, dry mouth, headache, and sedation.

Short Term Effects

Pharmacological effects include analgesia, sedation, euphoria, feelings of relaxation, respiratory depression, constipation, papillary constriction, and cough suppression. A 10 mg dose of orally-administered oxycodone is equivalent to a 10 mg dose of subcutaneously administered morphine as an analgesic in a normal population. Oxycodone’s behavioral effects can last up to 5 hours. The drug is most often administered orally. The controlled-release product, OxyContin®, has a longer duration of action (8-12 hours).

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.

Long Term Effects

As with most opiates, oxycodone abuse may lead to dependence and tolerance. Acute overdose of oxycodone can produce severe respiratory depression, skeletal muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin, reduction in blood pressure and heart rate, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.

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.

Information contained above is courtesy of US Drug Enforcement Administration for more information please visit: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/oxycontin.html#3

If you have come across our Addiction Treatment Center web site, it may be because you or someone you love is in need of help for Oxycodone addiction. The Cove Center for Recovery is an Addiction Treatment Center offering a premier drug addiction treatment program that can help you or your loved one. Our aim is to treat the whole person, and not just an isolated symptom. During the addiction treatment process we will work with the client to identify the factors that may have contributed to their addiction whether it’s home, work, or relationship driven or simply a result of your medical history. We also believe that families have a vital role to play in the recovery process, and each program has a place for family participation, to educate them in the addiction treatment process and to equip them for their role as supporters.