Opiate abuse is one of the fastest growing and most deadly diseases currently facing the United States. Each year, thousands of people overdose on heroin or prescription opiates, and despite the best efforts of law enforcement and public health officials, opiate addiction continues to be on the steady incline.
While for most people, the idea of a dangerous drug brings to mind heroin, crack, and even methamphetamine, OxyContin is actually one of the deadliest and most addictive substances available. The fact that OxyContin is manmade and is accessible through a doctor’s prescription does not make it safer for human use than a drug like heroin. In fact, prescriptions for OxyContin are what have led to the majority of drug use progressing to abuse and onto addiction in the United States.
OxyContin: The Drug
OxyContin, the brand name of Purdue Pharmaceuticals’ pill version of the painkiller, oxycodone, is a narcotic, just like heroin. Along with Vicodin, Percodan, Percocet, morphine, codeine, methadone and heroin, OxyContin and this entire classification of drugs, called opiates or opioids, have an extremely high rate of abuse, an even higher rate of addiction, and an undeniable link as the cause of thousands of overdose deaths every year.
What Does OxyContin Do?
OxyContin, created to mimic the effects of morphine, is comprised mainly of oxycodone. The drug works by blocking pain messengers in the brain, via the central nervous system. Internal levels of the natural neurotransmitter, dopamine, are affected, making the individual feel more pleasure and even euphoria, but the whole experience is chemically created. As a result, organic dopamine production is thrown out of whack, and the drug seems to be the only way to ever have a positive experience again.
When used properly, as medically prescribed, OxyContin is a highly effective painkiller that relieves the suffering of cancer patients and those with major physical pain. In an effort to treat acute and chronic pain, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved OxyContin for medical use in 1995. Since its introduction to the medical community, OxyContin has quickly become one of the most addictive and most deadly drugs available. When taking more OxyContin than medically necessary, the drug produces a euphoric feeling, but that is never why a physician has recommended the drug for use.
The pill version of oxycodone was designed with a slow-release formula so that only the appropriate amount of medication makes its way into the user’s bloodstream at any given time. With this method, ongoing pain can be properly alleviated. However, the potential for ways to abuse OxyContin were realized almost immediately. Instead of just relieving pain, OxyContin users figured out how to manipulate the drug to also get high.
OxyContin has been the subject of countless news reports and research studies. As the FDA witnessed the impact of OxyContin on the United States’ population, the organization began conducting research studies. Results, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, announced that oxycodone-related deaths increased 93% and oxycodone-related emergency room visits increased 32% between 1997 and 1998.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information that 15,000 Americans died of opiate and opioid related deaths in 2008, which marked a 300% increase from 1999. The rate of prescription pill deaths in one year was more than the total number of deaths linked to heroin and cocaine combined. Further, in 2008, Purdue Pharmaceuticals reported over $2 billion in annual OxyContin sales, nearly double the amount sold in 2007. The drug’s sales increased to nearly $3 billion the next year, and made it to $3.1 billion in 2010. This means that enough prescriptions for painkillers had been administered in 2010 to medicate every adult in the U.S., 24 hours a day, for an entire month.
After years of OxyContin sales, Purdue Pharmaceuticals was found liable for the drug’s addiction and death rates. The company entered a guilty plea to a single felony count of misbranding and paid out $600.5 million. Plus, three of the company’s top executives were each charged with misbranding misdemeanors and fined $34.5 million, which the company paid.
Changes to the Deadly Drug
As a result of the law suit, Purdue Pharmaceuticals reformulated OxyContin to reduce its abuse potential. Along with the changes came a new label warning of the drug’s side effects, dangers, and probability toward addiction. The combined changed have proven effective in decreasing the demand for OxyContin.
OxyContin: The Effects
Unlike some other pharmaceutical drugs, the side effects of taking OxyContin are not mild. Instead of just possible dizziness and dry mouth, OxyContin affects the entire central nervous system. This means that the heart, the lungs, the brain, the reproductive, respiratory, digestive, and immune systems, and every major organ are impacted by the drug’s abuse.
As a result, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports record high cases of OxyContin abuse, physical and psychological dependence (i.e. addiction), and overdose deaths. Purdue Pharmaceuticals has been criticized for downplaying the dangers of OxyContin and has been required, by the FDA, to make changes to the label. The side effects are now listed right on the bottle of OxyContin along with what the FDA calls the strongest warning ever for a pharmaceutical drug.
- Depressed respiration, or respiratory failure
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slowed pulse
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach cramps
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Inability to stay awake
- Impairment of menstrual cycle in females
- Severe withdrawal symptoms when drug use stops
Increased OxyContin Use
Similar to heroin, an increased tolerance to the pain-blocking euphoric effects leads an OxyContin user to want a larger dosage of the drug each day. Accidental OxyContin overdose is caused when a user does not stop increasing the dose, until one day, the amount of the drug is too much for the body to metabolize. Rarely does an OxyContin overdose result in an outcome other than death or permanent brain damage.
Stopping the Progression of OxyContin Use
The dangerous side effects of OxyContin make its use incredibly risky. If you are using OxyContin, or know someone who is, the behavior can stop with the right medical help. Recovery Now TV finds the treatment centers with the most experience and the best staff to help stop the progression of OxyContin use to abuse and addiction.
Give Recovery Now TV a call today at 800-281-4731 to find out where you can start your new life.
When a prescription drug is used in any way other than how a doctor prescribed it, the drug is being abused. The purpose is no longer proper pain treatment; the goal is to get high.
If a 90-day supply of OxyContin is deemed necessary for recovery after surgery, for example, and the individual uses the given quantity in 60 days, the drug has been abused. Similarly, when a portion of one’s personal quantity of OxyContin is sold to someone who does not also have a doctor’s prescription, the drug is being abused.
- What is OxyContin Abuse?
- What Makes OxyContin Dangerous?
- The Progression From Use to Abuse
- What to Do About OxyContin Abuse
Although OxyContin was manufactured as a time-release pill, designed to relieve pain for up to 12 hours, when the drug is crushed and injected, snorted, chewed, smoked, or dissolved into a liquid, the time-release function is destroyed. Abusers feel a heroin-like rush from eating, drinking, snorting, or injecting the powdered, or pulverized, form of OxyContin.
The pleasurable feeling created by the abuse of OxyContin is leading even those who truly needed a prescription, to abuse the drug for the euphoria and the complete alleviation of all pain. Since the pharmaceutical drug can be so easily abused, often users quickly progress from legitimate use to abuse, and then onto addiction. Individuals who have not been educated on the dangers and side effects of OxyContin may not understand the drug’s powerful narcotic impact on the human body.
All too often, a person who has been prescribed OxyContin believes that the drug is safe because a doctor has deemed it medically appropriate. Sadly, the true effects of OxyContin abuse are widely unknown to most of the people who are taking the pharmaceutical. Consequently, OxyContin’s side effects become the reason for thousands of emergency room visits and causes of death every year.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), via the organization’s Drug Abuse Warning Network, emergency room incidents involving oxycodone increased 89% between 1993 and 1999. Those rates jumped another 68% from 1999 to 2000; illustrating the reality of the influence OxyContin abuse is having on our society.
As one of the most powerful pain relievers on the market, OxyContin became a substitute for heroin. Instead of injecting a risky street drug, individuals started going to a doctor, complaining of chronic pain, in an effort to get what is essentially the pill form of heroin. The pharmaceutical versions seem less dangerous than heroin, are perceived with less cultural stigma than “street drugs,” and come in a pretty little pill instead of via a needle, but make no mistake: prescription opiate narcotics are no less dangerous than any other version, like heroin, codeine, and morphine.
When the first high is experienced from OxyContin, abuse goes beyond just pain relief. The desire for an amount of the drug that creates that euphoric high is continuously pursued. For those users, who are not educated on the dangers of opiates, OxyContin use can unintentionally spiral out of control.
The body begins to change and chemicals in the brain begin to adapt to the continuous, and often rising, presence of OxyContin. The appropriate pain relief that used to come from one or two pills now requires five or six pills. As abuse continues to progress, it is not unusual for an individual to then need a dozen pills of OxyContin to feel the effect that used to come with just a couple. Physical tolerance to the drug has developed and the systems of the body and the brain now require more pills to ward off pain, or to get high.
When the body can no longer handle the dose that is being taken, meaning that the amount of the drug in the person’s system can no longer be metabolized, the drug becomes lethal. This is an overdose. The body does not distinguish between OxyContin, another pharmaceutical, and heroin when dosages become so high that breathing stops and other organs shut down, including the heart. OxyContin overdoses are just like heroin overdoses. The body cannot handle the level of narcotics present.
The good news is that complete recovery from any opiate is possible. With help from trained professionals, OxyContin abuse can stop before an overdose, or the progression to addiction, ends a life.
Recovery Now TV offers the latest in medical detoxification and effective therapeutic techniques for treating OxyContin abuse. Through effective referrals, our treatment team will help find the best detox and treatment program for you. Call Recovery Now TV to find out more: 800-281-4731.
- Loss of control over substance use
- Obsession with use
- Continued use despite adverse life consequences
- Denial that there is a problem with a substance
- A powerful likelihood of relapse
Addiction is defined as a chronic disease with a high probability of relapse. When a person fits the criteria of addiction, he or she can be diagnosed with physical and psychological dependence upon at least one mind-altering drug, or life-impairing behavior. The ability to stop using is diminished, and every aspect of the person’s life can reach incapacitation.
The use of OxyContin negatively impacts the entire central nervous system. The influence on the body and the brain decrease a person’s ability to make good choices. OxyContin addiction begins to affect relationships, commitments, and responsibilities, as the drug begins taking daily priority. When abuse crosses over into addiction, jobs are lost, schoolwork falls by the wayside, relationships crumble, families are torn apart, physical and mental health deteriorates, and even legal consequences can begin dictating a person’s life.
A well-cited definition of addiction includes these five criteria:
- A Loss of Control over substance use;
- Obsession with substance use;
- Continued use Despite Negative Life Consequences;
- Denial of a problem with substances and/or behaviors; and,
- A powerful tendency to Relapse back to substance use.
When used in an example, a person who has become addicted to OxyContin is unable to stop taking pills on his or her own. Each day this person is obsessed with finding the drug and using it, and even after this behavior has caused adverse life consequences (i.e. loss of a job, complete financial devastation, or the end of an important relationship), OxyContin use continues.
Through all of this, the addict denies that there is a problem with OxyContin, sometimes in the some form of, “I need the drug to treat my chronic pain.” Denial is very powerful, and so is OxyContin. Even when use stops, whether the person admits a problem with the substance or not, someone who can be diagnosed with addiction returns to the drug, or relapses, often after just a short time of cessation.
Whether for you or for a loved one, this list provides signs and symptoms of addiction to look for in someone who is taking OxyContin:
- Feeling physically sick when the supply of OxyContin is gone. (i.e. withdrawal symptoms)
- Engaging in illegal activity to get OxyContin.
- Increasing the amount of OxyContin taken each day. (i.e. increased tolerance)
- Experiencing feelings of guilt or shame about OxyContin use.
- Losing a job, failing out of school, or losing a loved one because of OxyContin use.
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Mood swings.
Additionally, in an effort to feel a satiable high again, many opiate addicts will combine alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other pharmaceutical drugs with OxyContin. This signals drug addiction. The act of combining chemicals is extremely dangerous because drug interactions in your body are unpredictable, and therefore, high risk and often life-threatening. Via several famous opiate addicts, like Heath Ledger, Cory Monteith, and most recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman, we see just how easily prescription pills, heroin, and the mixture of several drugs can lead to an untimely death.
Instead of suffering through the life of addiction, break the cycle by calling Recovery Now TV. OxyContin addiction must be treated, and with the help of our team, you can begin the detox and recovery process today.
Recovery Now TV has helped hundreds of people overcome opiate and opioid addiction. With proven techniques and effective medical procedures, recovery begins with medically supervised detoxification. Once OxyContin is out of the body, rehab can begin where treatment plans are customized to each individual client and a wide variety of services are available to heal the mind, body, and soul.
Give Recovery Now TV a call today at 800- 281-4731 to explore your options and to treat your OxyContin addiction.
Withdrawal from OxyContin
- Muscle and bone pain
- Cold flashes
- Involuntary leg movements
OxyContin withdrawal is no less serious than quitting heroin, despite the fact that OxyContin use may have started with a legitimate doctor prescription.
Opiate and opioid withdrawal indicators are physical symptoms experienced when the body reacts to a lack of any drug in the opiate family. The body and the brain have become accustomed to having a painkiller to function, so when a substance like OxyContin is suddenly taken away, pain seems excruciating, digestion is a major problem, and the entire central nervous system revolts. Muscles cramp, bones and joints ache, and the entire body sweats. Nausea, an inability to sleep or eat, and a relentless experience of anxiety also ensue. Overall, OxyContin withdrawal produces flu-like symptoms and major discomfort.
The pain and distress of OxyContin withdrawal can be minimized under proper medical supervision. Recovery Now TV has connections with monitored detoxification programs for opiate addiction.
OxyContin withdrawal is not a process you want to go through on you own. To stand a chance at making it through the first few days without returning to OxyContin use, seek participation in one of Recovery Now TV’s referrals with medical facilities, professional doctors, and licensed counselors helping you through the entire process.
Give us a call today at 800-281-4731 for a private consultation. We can help you stop using OxyContin and start a new life free of addiction.
Detox & Treatment
Completely ridding the body of OxyContin is vital for any chance at recovery from opiate addiction. As the most addictive class of drugs, these substances are not easily forgotten. With the assistance of medical professionals, who can administer proper medications and can continuously monitor vital signs, detoxification can be completed with greater ease.
Participation in a detox program sets a former OxyContin addict up for entry into a formal inpatient opiate treatment program. With individual therapy, peer group processing, family therapy, and other proven therapeutic approaches to recovery, an OxyContin addict can make changes with a positive attitude and a readiness to change. While not easy, a substance free life is available to addicts everywhere.
Recovery Now TV has dealt with hundreds of clients with your exact symptoms. Our effective treatment referrals are based on experience and research. If you are addicted to OxyContin, or someone in your life cannot stop using an opiate, it is time for help.
To find out where you can receive the best in opiate and opioid treatment, contact our team at Recovery Now TV, 800-281-4731. Our professional staff is standing by to give you a confidential consultation.