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Substance Abuse - Oxycontin

Commonly Known As: Oxy, Oxy’s, Oxies, Oxycotton, OC’s, Killers, Oceans, O’s, Oxycoffins.

Access to Drug: By prescription, through dealers, parties, raves, friends, and the internet without prescription. It is illegal to possess Oxycontin without a prescription and arrests can be made for possession, sales, driving under the influence, and transporting the drug.

Scientific Name: Oxycodone Hydrochloride controlled release. It is an opioid analgesic, central nervous system depressant that relieves pain for up to 12 hours and induces sleep. It is highly addictive.

Interesting Facts: Oxycontin is rapidly becoming a wide spread problem in the United States. The drug was developed in the mid 1990’s from Oxycodone (Percoset) for time release extended pain management of chronic pain in dying cancer patients, and people suffering from around the clock chronic pain. Unfortunately, some patients prescribed Oxycontin and Oxycodone without proper instructions are finding themselves battling an addiction problem. Oxycontin abuse is also believed to be responsible for numerous deaths in adolescents, especially when combined with alcohol, and has contributed to an increase in crime in some communities. Purdue Pharmacies, which developed the drug, is currently exploring methods of creating a new form of Oxycontin which would include an opiate antagonist that would block the effects of the opiates if the pill is crushed.

Methods of Use: Oxycontin is a pill that is taken orally. Abusers will use methods including chewing, crushing the pill and snorting the ingredients, or intravenously. Some will lick or rub off the time release coating on the pill prior to administration.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Euphoria, dry mouth, motor impairment, impaired judgment, hallucinations, impaired gait, pin point pupils, slurred speech, nausea, and sedation. The effects are reported to be similar to Heroin but with worse consequences.

Duration of Intoxication: When taken as prescribed, the effects last approximately 12 hours. However, crushing or chewing a pill immediately releases all the narcotics into the system instead of over time and the effects can be felt for about four to six hours followed by intense cravings. Overdoses are common due to people not realizing that even half a pill when crushed can lower the respiratory system enough to cause coma or death.

Withdrawal: The intensity of the withdrawal depends on the amount of drug used and the duration of abuse. It is more intense than Heroin withdrawal and includes flu-like symptoms with body and muscle aches, itchy skin, inability to concentrate, sleep disturbance, amotivation, headaches, nausea, and hot and cold flashes. Regular abusers/addicts require cessation therapy in a medical facility. However, cravings combined with the extremely uncomfortable withdrawal often lead to relapse.

Effects of Long Term Use: Because Oxycontin is still relatively new, long term effects have not been documented. It is estimated that like Heroin addicts, the longer the use or abuse, the more intense the cravings as well as an increased need for more of the drug to reach the desired effects. Weight loss/anorexia, amotivation, brain dysfunction and other symptoms common to long term use of opiate drugs can be expected.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: Oxycontin is highly addictive both physically and psychologically. The body quickly adapts to the narcotics in the brain and muscle tissue while psychologically, users will crave the euphoric feelings created by the drug. Treatment is required in a supportive, medical environment in order to aid in the withdrawal process as well as make changes in behavior that was adopted in order to maintain the addiction. “Doctor hopping” is common with Oxycontin abusers as well as the development of psycho-somatic symptoms.

Associated Risks: Users of Oxycontin can experience any number of traumas due to the cessation of pain, physically and emotionally. Car accidents, suicide, overdose, seizures and death can result especially if Oxycontin is used in combination with alcohol, tranquilizers, hypnotics, and other central nervous system depressants. With addiction, abusers will often resort to crime to maintain their drug use.