What is Oxcontin? – Oxycodone

OxyContin is a trade name for the drug oxycodone hydrochloride. Manufactured by Purdue Pharma L.P., OxyContin is a controlled-release form of oxycodone prescribed to treat chronic pain. When used properly, OxyContin can provide pain relief for up to 12 hours.

Recently, there has been a lot of media focus on this prescription drug due to increasing reports of its abuse. According to an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) fact sheet, an estimated 1.6 million Americans used prescription-type pain relievers for non-medical reasons for the first time in 1998. Furthermore, ONDCP reports that the number of oxycodone emergency cases increased nearly 36 percent in a single year, from 3,369 in January to June 1999 to 5,261 in January to June 2000.

Oxycodone is an agonist opioid. Opioid agonists are some of the most effective pain relievers available. Unlike other analgesics, opioid agonists have an increasing analgesic effect with increased doses. Meaning that the more you take, the better you feel. Other analgesics, like aspirin or acetaminophen, have a threshold to their effectiveness. You can see why, particularly for people who suffer chronic pain, a medication like OxyContin can be so beneficial: It can potentially provide up to four times the relief of a non-opioid analgesic, so even the most severe degree of pain can be managed.

Once oxycodone enters the body, it works by stimulating certain opioid receptors that are located throughout the central nervous system, in the brain and along the spinal cord. When the oxycodone binds to the opioid receptors, a variety of physiologic responses can occur, ranging from pain relief to slowed breathing to euphoria.

When abused, OxyContin, like other opiates and opioids, can be dangerously addictive. Rather than ingesting the pill as indicated, people who abuse OxyContin use other methods of administering the drug. To avoid the controlled-release mechanism, they either chew, snort or inject the medication to get an instant and intense “high.” Frequent and repeated use of the drug can cause the user to develop a tolerance to its effects, so larger doses are required to elicit the desired sensation and the abuser gets increasingly addicted to the drug.

Oxycodone-based products have been used illicitly for the past 30 years. Like other opioids, oxycodone can behighly addictive when used in non-medical circumstances. In the U.S., the drug carries an FDA “Black Box Warning”—the most severe warning to medical personnel and consumers that the drug has an “abuse liability similar to morphine.”  Labelling of the product in Canada lists similar contraindications and safety precautions.

Abuse of OxyContin was first reported in mid-2001 when some patients in rural areas of Virginia discovered that they could sell the drug, like other prescription opioids, for profit. Incidents of theft, robbery and prescription fraud made it hard for legitimate patients to obtain OxyContin since many pharmacies refused to carry it. Recent studies have demonstrated that trafficking in prescription drugs is one of the only cases where the product  actually gains in value when sold illegally (as compared with stolen goods such as TVs and camcorders).

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New vs. Old Formula of Oxycotin


By StopOxy

It has been almost a year since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released theirnew formulation for OxyContin. The FDA released the new design of the tablet to help prevent the illegal misuse and abuse of the pain relieving drug. As successful as the new formula may be, the new version is causing authorities across the nation new stress. Authorities have been noticing a rise in more individuals turning to heroin to get the sensation of euphoria that at one time OxyContin was able to fulfill. Read more »

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The Effects of Oxycotin


Oxycotin Long Term Effects

OxyContin differs from other forms of oxycodone (like Vicodin® and Percodan®) in only one way: The oxycodone in OxyContin is a “sustained-release” form of the drug, which means that OxyContin tablets pack higher doses of oxycodone than would otherwise be safe, since the drug is designed to be released more slowly. But users quickly discovered that, by simply chewing the tablets or crushing and sniffing them, all the oxycodone in a tablet can be released at once, in a huge, heroin-like rush of oblivion. And a new drug problem was born.


 Defeating its sustained-release feature eliminates OxyContin’s safety margin, making it as addictive and deadly as other narcotics. Oxy abusers found out about that first, too, faster than the media could say, “hillbilly heroin.” Read more »

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Treatment for OxyContin abuse

Treatments for abuse of OxyContin, like other opioids,  includes the use of various opioid substitution therapies such as methadone, LAAM (levo-alpha-acetyl-methadol), naltrexone and buprenorphine to help with symptoms of withdrawal.

Treatment can also involve detoxification, including rapid detoxification techniques, and traditional behaviour-oriented therapies such as  individual counselling, group or family therapy, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioural therapies. Currently there is no research base of controlled treatment outcome studies specifically examining OxyContin.

For help in South Africa, contact The Addiction  Action Campaign www.aac.org.za

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Teen Abuse of Painkiller OxyContin on the Rise

OxyContin can deliver a high similar to that of a heroin rush. Many teens who abuse OxyContin crush up the 12-hour time release pills and snort them, so they get hit with all the opiate at once.

Chris Arnold, NPR

Cheryl Oates holds a photo of her son, Christopher, who died of a heroin overdose two months ago. Christopher turned to heroin after first becoming hooked on OxyContin.

OxyContin & 12th Graders

Percentage of 12th graders who reported using OxyContin in the year prior to being surveyed:

NPR Online/University of Michigan/2005 Monitoring the Future Study

The use of OxyContin has risen by almost 40 percent among 12th graders since 2002. The powerful prescription painkiller can be highly addictive when abused.

December 19, 2005

About 1 in 20 high school seniors now acknowledges taking OxyContin, a prescription drug for managing severe pain that, when abused, can be powerfully addictive.

OxyContin and Addiction

Doctors say opiates like OxyContin are highly effective for treating pain. And patients are much less likely to get addicted if they use these drugs in just the dosage necessary to treat their pain.

But when a person starts taking opiates when they are not in pain, or in doses beyond what is required to treat their pain, doctors say the drugs have a different metabolic impact on the brain. In those situations, addiction is highly likely.

Many teens crush up OxyContin pills and snort them to get high, getting a hefty dose of opiate all at once when they are not in any pain to begin with. This form of taking in the drug is much more likely to lead to addiction. Read more »

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Oxycodone addiction – An addict’s average day


FreeFromHell is a social networking board for addiction where addicts, family and friends can interact, seek advice, and comfort. Read more »

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OxyContin® Diversion and Abuse

The abuse of oxycodone products in general has increased in recent years. In April 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study, which examined two data collection sources. The DEA Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) data tracks the distribution of oxycodone and other opioid analgesics and the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Medical Examiner (ME) and Emergency Department (ED) data ascertained the health consequences associated with its abuse from 1990 to 1996. The JAMA study found a 23 percent increase in the medical use of oxycodone with no corresponding increase in the illicit abuse of the drug. However, 1998 DAWN ME data reported a 93 percent increase in oxycodone mentions between 1997 and 1998 and the number of oxycodone-related DAWN ED mentions increased 32.4 percent from 1997 (4,857) to 1999 (6,429). Read more »

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Determining OxyContin Dependence vs. Addiction

When pain patients take a narcotic analgesic as directed, or to the point where their pain is adequately controlled, it is not abuse or addiction. Abuse occurs when patients take more than is needed for pain control, especially if they take it to get high. Patients who take their medication in a manner that grossly differs from a physician’s directions are probably abusing that drug.

If a patient continues to seek excessive pain medication after pain management is achieved, the patient may be addicted. Addiction is characterized by the repeated, compulsive use of a substance despite adverse social, psychological, and/or physical consequences. Addiction is often (but not always) accompanied by physical dependence, withdrawal syndrome, and tolerance. Physical dependence is defined as a physiologic state of adaptation to a substance.

The absence of this substance produces symptoms and signs of withdrawal. Withdrawal syndrome is often characterized by overactivity of the physiologic functions that were suppressed by the drug and/or depression of the functions that were stimulated by the drug. Opioids often cause sleepiness, calmness, and constipation, so opioid withdrawal often includes insomnia, anxiety, and diarrhea.

Pain patients, however, may sometimes develop a physical dependence during treatment with opioids. This is not an addiction. A gradual decrease of the medication dose over time, as the pain is resolving, brings the former pain patient to a drug-free state without any craving for repeated doses of the drug. This is the difference between the formerly dependent pain patient who has now been withdrawn from medication and the opioid-addicted patient: The patient addicted to diverted pharmaceutical opioids continues to have a severe and uncontrollable craving that almost always leads to eventual relapse in the absence of adequate treatment. It is this uncontrollable craving for another “rush” of the drug that differentiates the “detoxified” but opioid-addicted patient from the former pain patient. Theoretically, an opioid abuser might develop a physical dependence, but obtain treatment in the first few months of abuse, before becoming addicted. In this case, supervised withdrawal (detoxification) followed by a few months of abstinence-oriented treatment might be sufficient for the non-addicted patient who abuses opioids. If, however, this patient subsequently relapses to opioid abuse, then that would support a diagnosis of opioid addiction. After several relapses to opioid abuse, it becomes clear that a patient will require long-term treatment for the opioid addiction.

OxyContin Abuse

OxyContin is one of the most widely abused prescription drugs of all time. OxyContin is bought and sold on the black market with such names as “Hillbilly Heroin”, “Killers”, “OC”, and

“Oxycotton”. For those that have used this drug for extended periods of time, withdrawal can be serious. Anxiety, nausea, muscle weakness, and fever are some of the symptoms.

Today OxyContin has a largely negative connotation because of its abuse through the years. This is the drug that kids sell to each other at school, stay at home moms abuse, and people break into pharmacies to steal. It does not discriminate against age, race, or social status. For many people dealing with OxyContin addiction, treatment from a professional is a necessity.

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How is Oxycotin being abused?

Most people who take OxyContin as prescribed do not become addicted, but they may become somewhat physically dependent (there is a difference).

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports: “With prolonged use of opiates and opioids, individuals become tolerant . . . may require larger doses, and can become physically dependent on the drugs . . . studies indicate that most patients who receive opioids for pain, even those undergoing long-term therapy, do not become addicted to these drugs.” Read more »

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U.S. maker of OxyContin painkiller to pay $600 million in guilty plea

By Barry Meier

ABINGDON, Virginia — The company that makes the painkiller OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, has agreed to pay $600 million in fines and other payments to resolve the criminal charge of “misbranding” its product, one of the largest amounts ever paid by a drug company in such a case.

The company and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty in federal court here Thursday to criminal charges that the firm had misled doctors and patients when it claimed that the drug was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. Read more »

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Who produces Oxycotin?

Originally established in Montreal in 1956 as Purdue Frederick, Purdue Pharma Canada is a part of a privately owned worldwide group of independently associated companies, including Purdue Pharma, Mundipharma and Napp. After relocating from Montreal to Toronto in 1958, Purdue Pharma Canada moved to its current 15-acre site in the City of Pickering, Ontario in 1990.

Purdue Pharma Canada is also one of the limited number of pharmaceutical companies in the country that continues to maintain a fully integrated research and development (R&D) formulation laboratory, drug development function and manufacturing capabilities in Canada. Read more »

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