OxyContin, also known as oxycodone, is a legal opiate that is available by prescription to manage severe, debilitating pain, such as that experienced by people suffering from end-stage cancer or with bone or neurological degeneration. The time-release formulation delivers hours of continuous pain relief for those in unremitting pain.
OxyContin is a Schedule II narcotic, and is available only via a prescription from a licensed physician for treating pain. Unfortunately, a substantial amount of ‘Oxy’ (street name) is diverted and made available on the street. Other street names include OC, Hillbilly Heroin, OxyCotton, and Kickers.
The intended use of OxyContin is for the long-term relief (up to 12 hours) of moderate to severe pain associated with conditions such as arthritis or cancer. When used based on a doctor’s prescription, any signs of addiction can be monitored and controlled more effectively than if the user is not under the care of a physician.
Individuals who abuse OxyContin do so in one of three ways: chewing, IV injection after crushing the tablet and dissolving the powder in water, or crushing the pill and snorting the fine powder. Unfortunately, these techniques dramatically increase the risk for OC overdose. In fact, the new OxyContin formulation introduced in September 2013 sought to make it hard to crush the pills in order to discourage the abuse of this powerful opiate.
OxyContin has many similarities to other drugs of abuse, including marijuana, heroin, and alcohol, in that they elevate the levels of dopamine – a substance found to be associated with pleasure experiences. As such, prolonged use and abuse of OxyContin medications will eventually manipulate the brain in such a way that the user cannot quit on their own – a typical sign of addiction.
Some users combine Oxy with other downers, like alcohol or benzodiazepines, to increase the high. This is a deadly combination that can lead to respiratory depression and even death. Other users combine OC with stimulants like cocaine, meth, and amphetamines to subdue the unfavourable side effects of stimulant abuse. However, this combination is known to cause stroke and heart attack.
OxyContin addiction results in varied symptoms among different individuals depending on the frequency of use, duration of addiction, and the amount of OC used. Common symptoms of abuse include:
Many addictions are associated with co-occurring mental illnesses, including alcoholism, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and depressive disorders.
An Oxy addiction can cause tremendous damage to the lives of those who become unable to live without using the drug: loved ones may desert you; you may lose your job after the OC interferes with your ability to deliver at work; you may get into financial debt and legal problems; and your health will keep deteriorating.
At Canadian Addiction Rehab, we understand how hard it is to give up OxyContin once you begin to rely upon it. For some, OC may be a way to numb overpowering feelings or a way to deal with life stressors; whatever the reason you have become dependent on OxyContin, we are here to help you deal with actual problem and get you started on the path to recovery.