Oxycontin, containing Oxycodone, is a powerful painkiller that belongs to a class of drugs known as opiates. Developed in 1995, Oxycontin is a highly effective pain relieve intended to provide long-lasting relief for people in severe pain. Unlike most prescription pain medication that last four to six hours, this powerful painkiller lasts about 12 hours.
Oxycontin has long been a problem in depressed, rural areas in the US, where it is commonly known as "hillbilly heroin." In recent years, however, Oxycontin (or "oxy,") has become a serious, rapidly growing problem in urban areas.
If you think you are addicted to Oxycontin, or if you think a loved one may be at risk, consider these facts:
- Although Oxycontin is beneficial for people who experience severe pain, the downside is that many people are unaware of the risks associated with long-term use of the drug. Users often believe it is safe because unlike illegal street drugs, physicians prescribe Oxycontin.
- People who take Oxycontin for pain relief don't intend to become addicted, and most people use the drug without problems. Addiction occurs when people fail to take the drug according to the doctor's directions. For example, they take more of the drug than directed or more frequently than prescribed, or take the drug with the sole intention of getting high.
- Individuals who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs are at higher risk of becoming addicted to Oxycontin.
- Users often go to great lengths to attain the drug. They may go "doctor shopping," ask for refills early, or claim their prescriptions have been lost or stolen. Some may resort to serious crimes such as robbing pharmacies or stealing prescription pads to write bogus prescriptions.
- Oxycontin reduces pain by binding to receptors along the brain and spinal cord - the central nervous system.
- Most people take the pills by swallowing them with water, which releases the drug into the system gradually. However, some people chew the pills, creating a rush that hits all at once. Oxycontin is also being crushed into a powder that is mixed with water and injected.
- Long-term effects of Oxycontin use include chronic constipation, severe itching, headaches, nausea, sweating and sexual difficulties. Dangerous side effects include breathing problems, dizziness, heart failure, seizures, low blood pressure or cardiac arrest. The dangers are compounded when the drug is crushed and chewed.
- People who inject Oxycontin and share needles are at risk of hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and other infections.