Oxycontin Facts & Effects

Oxycontin is the time-release form of the opioid oxycodone, and it is usually prescribed for chronic and severe pain. Because it contains almost pure oxycodone, Oxycontin has become one of the most abused prescription drugs in the United States.

OxyContin ER (extended release) is a powerful prescription painkiller that slowly releases the opioid oxycodone over an extended period of time.  Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid, which means it has been chemically altered from its natural state.  

Unlike most prescription painkillers, OxyContin contains almost pure oxycodone. However, OxyContin contains a small variety of inactive ingredients such as butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), hypromellose, polyethylene glycol 400, polyethylene oxide, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide, and coloring agents.

OxyContin comes in various doses, including 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg tablets. Because it is almost purely oxycodone, OxyContin is highly addictive and thus classified as a Schedule II drug.

People get high on OxyContin by tampering with the drug’s controlled-release mechanisms. By cutting, chewing, dissolving and injecting, or snorting the tablet, they release all the oxycodone in the tablet at once. These methods of abuse are extremely dangerous because of the strength of oxycodone and the large dosage involved.

To prevent this, a new reformulated version of OxyContin was released in 2010. The “tamper-proof” tablet turns into a gooey substance that cannot be snorted or drawn up into a syringe. Even though this significantly reduces the likelihood of abuse, those determined to abuse OxyContin find a way to extract the drug in the form they want it. 

Alcohol, depressant drugs (Xanax), other opioids (Percocet, Vicodin), and stimulants (amphetamine, Ritalin) should not be taken together with OxyContin. The combination of their effects could result in overdose.

  • Alcohol, depressants, and opioids all slow down brain activity. When mixed together, they could lead to dangerously slow breathing and heart rate.
  • Taking stimulants with opioids is like playing cardiovascular tug-of-war: the stimulants tell your heart to speed up, and the opioids tell it to slow down. This could lead to fatal effects such as heart dysrhythmias, heart attack, or heart failure. Additionally, this combination is even more deadly because stimulants can mask the symptoms of OxyContin overdose.

Short term effects include:

  • Confusion
  • Altered mental state
  • Headache
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed breathing

Long term effects include:

  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Decreased levels of testosterone
  • Coma
  • Tolerance
  • Addiction

Overdose effects include:

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Extremely low heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Oxycontin can be detected in the urine for two to three days and longer for long-term users.

The effects of OxyContin start within one hour after the drug is taken and can last for 12 hours.The length of an OxyContin high depends on the route and dosage of the drug, which can last from 30 minutes to six hours. Snorting or injecting will result in faster highs, and higher dosages will provide longer effects. 

However, tolerance builds with each use. After a while, the same dosage taken the same way will not produce the same effect, and users often end up spending hundreds of dollars to chase a few minutes of pleasure.

Due to the sheer amount of oxycodone in a single pill of OxyContin, any abuse of the drug poses a risk of overdose. When a person chews, injects, or snorts an Oxy pill, the entire 12-hour dose hits your system at once and could cause an overdose.

As usual, this depends on your body metabolism and how tolerant you are to the drug already. A single dose of OxyContin greater than 40 mg or taking more than 80 mg of oxycodone a day could be fatal for those new to OxyContin. Since OxyContin contains so much oxycodone, any abuse of the drug could lead to fatal overdose symptoms.

Addiction occurs when an individual continues to use methadone despite the negative consequences. Other signs of addiction include:

  • Needing more of oxycontin to achieve the same effect (tolerance)
  • Using more oxycontinthan intended
  • Unable to cut down or stop oxycontin
  • Spending more money than you have on oxycontin
  • Continuing to get high despite the problems it causes
  • Depending on oxycontin to relax or enjoy yourself
  • Neglects daily responsibilities
  • Others have expressed concern about your oxycontin use
  • Feelings of guilt when using oxycontin
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