The abuse rate of OxyContin and Oxycodone is multi-faceted. We will discuss both the addictive nature of Oxy medications as well as how society played its hand in abuse trends.
Is Media Hype Responsible for Widespread Oxy Abuse?
OxyContin abuse has been appearing in the news since 2000. Features were done on how one could compromise the time-release drug. Concerns were expressed to the medical profession about the risk of Oxy abuse and addiction.
Media coverage spoke of this once believed “miracle drug” and what it was doing to American society. As a result of OxyContin addiction, there were house robberies, theft, addicts breaking into pharmacies, and fraud. Some doctors were guilty of supporting Oxy use and abuse by frequently prescribing the drug for no medical reason.
Some believe it was the media coverage making OxyContin out to be a villain that promoted it to be abused. At the core of it however, getting addicted to Oxy is a risk for anyone who encounters it. Oxycodone has a similar feeling to heroin when crushed and snorted. They can be manipulated to give one a greater high which is why Oxy abuse is such an issue in the US today.
Oxycodone, a Drug for Pain
There are many kinds of pain that require different types of pain killers. This is why the pharmaceutical companies have produced so many different medications to help patients cope with pain. Oxycodone is just one type of drug for pain.
It comes in two forms. There is an immediate-release form as well as an extended-release form. While the immediate-release form is available as a generic drug, the extended-release form is under the brand name OxyContin.
Oxycodone vs OxyContin
Oxycodone and OxyContin are the same drug but are considered different versions. OxyContin and oxycodone are both opioids and work in a similar way to treat pain. The conditions they treat are also similar.
Oxycodone immediate-release and OxyContin work by binding to the receptors in your brain and spinal system. This is what will stop the signs of pain from affecting you so you feel no pain.
Features of Oxycodone
- Oxycodone is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. It will often be administered after surgery or a serious injury.
- Generic versions available. Oxaydo, Roxicodone.
- Oxycodone comes in the form of immediate release capsule, immediate release tablet and an immediate release solution. All are taken orally.
- Immediate release form: 10 mg to 30 mg, every four hours.
- Controlled release form: 20 mg to 640 mg, per day in patients with cancer pain.
- The daily dose prescribed is about 105 mg per day.
- Lasts for 4-6 hours.
- It’s a short term treatment used for less than 3 days.
Features of OxyContin
- OxyContin is specifically used for long-lasting pain. It will be used for late stages of long-term diseases like cancer. Doctors might also add an immediate-release oxycodone alongside of OxyContin when pain becomes severe in patients.
- There are no generic versions and it only comes in an extended release tablet form.
- OxyContin tablets come in 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 160mg tablet strengths for oral administration.
- They can be taken every 12 hours.
- Long-term treatment for often terminally ill patients.
Availability of OxyContin and Oxycodone
OxyContin addiction statistics have shown that oxycodone abuse and addiction is more prevalent due to its higher availability. Due to the fact Oxycodone is available as a generic drug, your insurance company is more likely cover patients for it.
Oxycodone costs less and it is used for the more common types of pain. OxyContin really is a drug meant for serious illness where pain is not going to subside and only worsen.
Drugs Similar to Oxycodone and OxyContin
Fentanyl is a part of the synthetic opioid family just like OxyContin. It is an analgesic that is much like morphine but is up to 100 more potent. It is often used to help people manage their pain after surgery. It is also used for those with chronic pain who have become tolerant on other opioids. It is used as a street drug but its prescriptions names are Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze.
Tramadol is another pain reliever with narcotic-like characteristics. It is used to manage moderate to severe pain. There is an extended-release form of Tramadol that can be used for 24 hour pain. The brand names are ConZip and Ultram.
Hydromorphone is used for severe pain and is often used as part of combination therapy. So you may have to take other medications with it. Hydromorphone is used to treat severe pain that isn’t controlled by other opioid drugs. The extended-release tablet is used for people who need daily, around-the-clock pain treatment. It can be used for around the clock pain management. It’s available in a liquid oral solution or a solution that can be injected by a health provider. The immediate release tablet is under the brand name Dilaudid. The extended release version is called Exalgo.
Codeine is a pain relieving opiate often used in cough medicine (Promethazineor) to reduce diarrhea. It treats mild to moderate pain. It is more beneficial when combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Codeine comes in oral solution, oral syrup, oral tablet, and oral tablet extended release.
Aspirin and Oxycodone are combined to relieve moderate to severe pain. Aspirin reduces substances in the body that cause the pain. This includes inflammation and fever. Oxycodone binds the receptors so pain signals don’t reach the brain. In Percodan, a brand name for the Aspirin and Oxycodone combination has 4.8355 mg of Oxycodone and 325 mg of Aspirin. Other brand names are Percodan-Demi, Roxiprin, and Endodan.
Why is OxyContin and Oxycodone Such a Drug of Abuse?
Oxy abuse in the US is for a few reasons. At the heart of it, OxyContin and oxycodone are powerful synthetic opioids. Opiate addiction takes a powerful hold on a person’s mind and body, especially when abused. Oxy acts very much like morphine. Doctors are controlling the substance more tightly now as they know how addictive these opioid prescriptions drugs are. This wasn’t always the case.
It isn’t easy to control how these drugs are prescribed despite best intentions. Addiction stories recount of how people scour other people’s medicine cabinets looking for drugs like OxyContin. It will either be sold on the street or abused within the household by another family member.
What Does an OxyContin High Feel Like?
OxyContin addiction has a lot to do with the feeling you get from abusing it. An OxyContin high gives you a sense of euphoria. It relieves pain but it also relieves anxiety and fear. Any of the similar opioids to OxyContin will affect the pain and pleasure sensation in the brain. The MU receptors have a natural liking for opioids for the feeling it gives them.
When used as prescribed, OxyContin slowly releases the oxycodone over time. This means taking the drug less often. Oxycodone abuse occurs when people intentionally take more than prescribed to get the euphoric feeling that is a lot like heroin. OxyContin withdrawal treatment may need to be administered in the event that someone chronically abuses it.
The Oxy Abuse Factor
Oxy abuse and addiction is considered an epidemic in the US. How did it get to the point where so many people had access to drugs like OxyContin? One of the reasons is that physicians aren’t formally trained to specifically pick out who is an Oxy abuser.
Patients with an addiction to Oxy will go doctor-shopping, getting prescriptions from various physicians. Further to it, they will visit different pharmacies so there is no record of previous prescriptions.
Fraud and theft may occur as well in the pursuit of abusing Oxy. The OxyContin street price is high enough that it’s worth committing criminal acts to obtain it for some. Oxy abusers crush the tablets, dissolve it and inject it. Users may also snort it. Doing this creates a high like heroin which is one of the factors in the high abuse rate of Oxy.
Reasons Why Oxy Abuse Became so Widespread
When the DEA investigated Oxy abuse, they found that the primary source of people getting the drug was through illegal acts by physicians and pharmacists. It is believed that physicians have been writing up fraudulent prescriptions to then supply the drug for distribution purposes. A study on why Oxy became so widely abused cited the DEA’s investigation.
When newspapers and magazines started demonizing Oxy, they explained in detail how one would best abuse the drugs. This back fired as it gave the public the magic recipe to abuse Oxycodone medications. Kids were running to their parent’s medicine cabinets to see if they had the powerful drug everyone was talking about.
Once the brain gets used to oxycodone, it will begin to think that the interference is normal. Oxycodone stimulates receptors and messages over time. When you try to stop, the brain will have a challenge trying to regulate. This is the source of the withdrawal symptoms.
If you should suddenly stop oxycodone, you put the central nervous system into shock. This is where the symptoms and side effects of oxycodone withdrawal occur. You should never stop taking oxy “cold turkey” unless you’re being supervised.
Oxycodone withdrawal is much like withdrawing from heroin. It can cause physical discomfort and negative mental symptoms such as:
- Agitation, irritability, depression, and anxiety.
- Inability to concentrate.
- Uncontrollable sweating.
- Aches in the body.
- Runny nose.
- High blood pressure.
A helpful measure to take is to go through medical detox. You may receive medications that help you get through the most severe part of the oxycodone withdrawal. Therapy should also be a part of the recovery process after oxy detox has been successful.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline
Oxycodone withdrawal is defined by the side effects that happen when the drug drains from the brain and body. Detox is the act of removing the drug from the body. It takes 8-12 hours from the last time you used oxycodone before it leaves your body. The peak of the withdrawal will be in the first 72 hours.
The time it will take before withdrawal symptoms kick in will largely depend on how oxycodone was taken. Immediate-release oxy has a half-life of 3-4 hours. OxyContin is an extended-release oxycodone so its half-life is around 12 hours. Reports have found that abusing oxycodone through snorting or injecting it will create an almost instant withdrawal.
Symptoms will start to decrease after a 7 day period. Psychological effects and cravings for the drug are likely to last longer.
How to Detox from Oxycodone
When you enter into a detox program, they will likely begin the process before oxycodone withdrawal symptoms start. This allows the drug to be removed safely. You will be monitored 24/7 for up to 7 days. If you were especially dependant on oxycodone, you may have to stay in detox for up to 10 days.
With vital signs being checked and medications to help the detox process, it is your most likely way to make a successful recovery. After detox has been successful, a substance abuse treatment program should ensue.
Dependence on Oxycodone can occur within a few weeks if you are taking it every day. Oxy abuse through snorting, injecting and generally taking high doses will cause a faster physical dependence. Once addiction has set in, you’ll have to seek out professional treatment to successfully stop.