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An In-Depth Overview of OxyContin

OxyContin is the brand name of an opioid analgesic or pain reliever. OxyContin is the time-release form of oxycodone HCI that is used as a narcotic painkiller or analgesic. Killers, OC, Oxycotton and OXY are some of the street names and slang terms that are used to refer to OxyContin. OxyContin is used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain and is available only by prescription. In simple words, OxyContin blocks pain messages and causes a person to feel drowsy.

OxyContin, like many prescription medications, can prove to be very effective for the treatment of individuals who need to use these it as medication. However, serious adverse consequences can occur by using this drug for unintended purposes or without a physician's supervision. When abused, OxyContin can be as dangerous and addictive as illegal street drugs. A large single dose of OxyContin can result in severe respiratory depression and can prove to be fatal. Long-term use can lead to addiction, in certain cases.

What does OxyContin look like?

OxyContin is available in the form of tables in five doses of 10mg, 20mg, 40 mg, and 80mg. However, 160mg tablets of OxyContin are no longer being shipped by the manufacturer.

How is OxyContin used?

As a pain medication, OxyContin is prescribed to be taken every twelve hours or twice a day because the tablets contain a controlled, time-released formulation of oxycodone. Most pain relieving medications must be taken every 3 to 6 hours, and this is why OxyContin is a convenient alternative. Usually, patients suffering from chronic pain, such as neck and back pain, and cancer patients are prescribed OxyContin to improve function and for pain relief.

How Is OxyContin Abused?

Those who abuse OxyContin either crush the tablet, remove the coating and snort it inject it after diluting it in water. Abusing OxyContin this way causes an euphoric rush similar to heroin. Not only is the time-released action of OxyContin tablets disarmed when it is crushed or diluted, but abusers can also end up taking a potentially lethal dose.

What Are the Effects of OxyContin?

OxyContin is a highly effective pain relieving medication under prescribed dosage. However, a powerful and quick "high" is produced by the drug when it is injected or snorted. It has been reported by the NIDA that the rates of OxyContin abuse are actually higher than that rates of heroin abuse in certain areas of the country.

OxyContin is a central nervous system depressant just like other opiods and heroin, and respiratory failure and even death can occur as a result of an overdose. Following is a list of some of the symptoms of OxyContin overdose:

  • Clouding of mental functions
  • Clammy and cold skin
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Reduced vision
  • Respiratory depression or slow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Small pupils
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Is OxyContin addictive?

OxyContin like all opioids is potentially very addictive. Even patients using OxyContin as a prescribed medication for pain relief are recommended never to stop taking the drug all of a sudden. Instead, they are commended to reduce the dosage of the drug gradually in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. However, a very small number of people who take OxyContin as prescription medication actually become addicted to it. Those who abuse this drug by taking a higher dosage than what is prescribed tend to become tolerant to it. Therefore, to achieve a similar effect they start taking larger ever-increasing amounts. So they quickly become dependent or addicted to the drug.

What are the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin?

The following are included among the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin:

  • Constant yawning
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hot/cold sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Joints and muscles ache
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Watery eyes

If patients do not take OxyContin six hours after the previous dose, they will start feeling withdrawal symptoms that can last for up to one week. People who have experienced the symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal compare them to the symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Patients who are using OxyContin regularly can take the missed dose as soon as they remember that they missed it. However, a missed dose should be skipped if it is almost time for the next dose. Even if a dose is missed, an extra dose of this drug should never be taken.

Although OxyContin had started out as a very useful pain relief medication, it is now among most abused prescription drugs in the US.

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