Overview Of Oxycontin
It is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic prescribed for chronic or long-lasting pain. The active ingredient is oxycodone, which is also found in drugs like Percodan and Tylox. It can contain between 10 and 80 milligrams of oxycodone in a timed-release tablet, compared to about five milligrams a day in Percodan.
How It’s Used
Generally, this drug is prescribed to be taken twice a day, a benefit over other pain-relieving medications that have to be taken several times a day. OxyContin is available in tablet form in seven dosage levels from 10 to 80 milligrams.
It is usually prescribed to help patients with chronic pain, such as back and neck pain. It may also be prescribed to cancer patients to help decrease pain and improve function.
How it’s Abused
People who misuse this drug use the medicine in amounts or ways that are not prescribed or intended. They can either crush the tablet and ingest or snort it, or they dilute it in water and inject it. Crushing or diluting the tablet disarms the timed-release action of the medication, but crushing OxyContin in this way can give the user a potentially fatal dose.2
In 2010, the FDA approved a new formulation of OxyContin to prevent such tampering. The drugmaker, Purdue Pharma LP, made changes so that breaking up the tablet does not immediately release oxycodone. Also, if someone attempts to dissolve these new tablets for syringe injection, the liquid becomes gummy.
Despite these measures, the FDA continues to admit that abuse and misuse of OxyContin remain possible. Further, there is an increase in OxyContin abusers who are turning to heroin because it is a significantly lower-cost opioid.
According to a 2013 study, nearly 80% of American heroin users reported misusing prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin before they were introduced to the illicit street drug.3
Some of the street names for OxyContin include Oxy, O.C., Cotton, kickers, Ox, OCs, beans, rushbo, Orange County, killer, and hillbilly heroin. It is frequently mispronounced and misspelled as “oxycotton.”
Effects Of Oxycontin
Under the prescribed dosage, it is an effective pain reliever. When crushed and snorted or injected, the drug produces a quick and powerful “high” that some abusers compare to the feeling they get when doing heroin. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that in some areas of the country, OxyContin abuse rates are higher than heroin abuse.
OxyContin, like heroin and other opioids, is a central nervous system depressant. An overdose can cause respiratory failure and death.
Some symptoms of OxyContin overdose include:
- Clouding of mental functions
- Cold and clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Reduced vision
- Slow breathing (respiratory depression)
- Small pupils
In Case of Overdose
If you believe someone has taken an overdose of OxyContin, call 9-1-1 immediately. Narcan (naloxone hydrochloride) is an emergency medication designed to counteract an opioid overdose. First-responders can use it to revive someone if they can reach them soon enough.
If medical attention is received promptly, there may be few long-term consequences of an overdose. When treatment is delayed, an overdose of Oxy can be fatal or result in permanent brain damage.
Is It Addictive?
Like all opioids, OxyContin has the potential to be highly addictive. Due to the potential for abuse, it is a Schedule II drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Even pain patients who use the drug as prescribed are advised against suddenly stopping the use. Instead, the dosage should be gradually reduced to avoid withdrawal symptoms. However, very few people who take this drug as prescribed become addicted to the drug.
People who misuse the drug and take a higher than the prescribed dosage, can develop a tolerance for Oxy. This can cause them to take ever-increasing amounts to achieve the same effect. It is possible to become dependent on the drug rather quickly.
Opioid Addiction Discussion Guide
Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions at your next doctor.
Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as six hours after the last dose and can last up to one week. People who have gone through it’s withdrawal compare the process to the intensity of heroin withdrawal:
- Constant yawning
- Heart palpitations
- Hot/cold sweats
- Joint and muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Uncontrollable coughing
- Watery eyes
There are many different types of pain that affect people in different ways. What works for you may not work for someone else. For this reason, there are many different medications to treat pain. Oxycodone is one type of pain drug. It comes in an immediate-release form and an extended-release form. The immediate-release form of oxycodone is available as a generic drug. The extended-release form is only available as the brand-name drug OxyContin. This article helps you understand the differences and similarities between these two drugs and how they work.
Read more: All about opioids and addiction »
OxyContin is a brand-name version of the extended-release form of oxycodone. They are different versions of the same drug. OxyContin and immediate-release oxycodone belong to a drug class called opioids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way and are often used to treat similar conditions. Immediate-release oxycodone and OxyContin both bind to receptors in your brain and spinal cord. When they do this, they block pain signals and stop pain.
Immediate-release oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as from surgery or an injury. OxyContin is usually reserved for longer-lasting pain from the late stages of a long-term disease, usually cancer. Doctors may sometimes add immediate-release oxycodone to treatment with OxyContin during brief moments when the pain becomes severe.
The following table lists features of both drugs.
|Why is it used?||Treatment of moderate to severe pain, such as pain after surgery or from a severe injury||Treatment of moderate to severe pain that usually is associated with the last stages of chronic diseases|
|Is a generic version available?||Yes||No|
|What are the brands?||Oxaydo
|What are forms?||Immediate-release oral tablet
Immediate-release oral capsule
Immediate-release oral solution
|Can the capsule or tablet be opened, cut, or crushed?||Yes||No|
|What are the strengths?||Immediate-release oral tablet:
Generic: 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Roxicodone (brand): 5 mg, 15 mg, 30 mg
Oxaydo (brand): 5 mg, 7.5 mgImmediate-release oral capsule: 5 mg
Immediate-release oral solution: 5 mg/5 mL, 100 mg/5 mL
|Extended-release tablet: 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg|
|How often do I take it?||Every four to six hours||Every 12 hours|
|Do I take it for long-term or short-term treatment?||Short-term treatment, usually three days or fewer||Long-term treatment|
|How do I store it?||Store at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C)||Store at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C)|
OXYCOTIN VS OXYCODONE