Q.) What is OxyContin?
A.) OxyContin, approved by the FDA in 1995, is an opium derivative that contains the same active ingredient as Percodan and Percocet. OxyContin is intended for use by terminal cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers. The structural formula for oxycodone hydrochloride is as follows: The chemical formula is 4, 5-epoxy-14-hydroxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one hydrochloride. OxyContin is designed so that the oxycodone is slowly released over time.
Oxycodone is a white, odorless, crystalline powder derived from the opium alkaloid. Oxycodone hydrochloride dissolves in water (1 g in 6 to 7 mL). It is slightly soluble in alcohol (octanol water partition coefficient 0.7). The tablets contain the following inactive ingredients: ammonio methacrylate copolymer, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, lactose, magnesium stearate, povidone, red iron oxide (20 mg strength tablet only), stearyl alcohol, talc, titanium dioxide, triacetin, yellow iron oxide (40 mg strength tablet only), and other ingredients.
Q.) What are the various strengths of OxyContin?
A.) OxyContin (oxycodone hydrochloride controlled-release) tablets are an opioid analgesic supplied in 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg tablet strengths for oral administration. The tablet strengths describe the amount of oxycodone per tablet as the hydrochloride salt.
Of the various strengths of OxyContin, the most commonly abused and diverted strength is the 40 mg tablets, although all strengths (10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg, and 160 mg.) have been encountered.
Q.) What are the slang terms used for OxyContin?
A.) Below is a list of common slang terms used for OxyContin:
- 40 = OxyContin pill
- 40 = OxyContin pill
- 80 = OxyContin pill
- Doctor shopping = The practice of going from doctor to doctor to obtain prescriptions for pharmaceuticals
- Hillbilly heroin = OxyContin
- Kicker = OxyContin
- Oxy = OxyContin
- Oxycotton = OxyContin
- Pharming = Consuming a mixture of prescription substances
- Pill ladies = Female senior citizens who sell OxyContin
Q.) How does OxyContin work?
A.) OxyContin is an opiate agonist. Opiate agonists provide pain relief by acting on opioid receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and possibly in the tissues directly. Opioids, natural or synthetic classes of drugs that act like morphine, are the most effective pain relievers available. OxyContin is manufactured by modifying an alkaloid found in opium. OxyContin is a central nervous system depressant. OxyContin's action appears to work through stimulating the opioid receptors found in the central nervous system that activate responses ranging from analgesia to respiratory depression and euphoria.
Q.) How is OxyContin used?
A.) When used properly, OxyContin contains a time-release mechanism that spreads the release of the drug over a 12-hour period. The time-release mechanism can be circumvented by crushing the tablet and the drug can be used in one of the following ways:
- The tablets can be chewed
- The tablets can be crushed, then snorted like cocaine
- The tablets can be crushed, dissolved in water, then injected like heroin
Q.) Why would someone abuse OxyContin?
A.) OxyContin abuse is spreading for a variety of reasons. First, the elevated opiate dosage makes it highly addictive. Second, in contrast to drugs such as cocaine or heroin that can be laced with other substances, with OxyContin you know how much of the drug you are getting. Since the dosage is consistent, it delivers a dependable high. Finally, OxyContin is covered by most health insurance plans, so it is significantly cheaper than street drugs.
OxyContin Abuse is becoming a wide spread problem in America. OxyContin is a leading treatment for chronic pain, but officials fear it may succeed crack cocaine on the street. The DEA says it is only a matter of time before every community in the country is confronted with the problem of OxyContin abuse. No prescription drug in the last 20 years has been so widely abused after its release, federal officials say.
Q.) What are the effects of OxyContin?
A.) OxyContin will give you a high much like high grade heroin but with worse consequences. A 5mg tablet of OxyContin has has as many active ingredients as 1 Percocet. So, chewing or snorting a 40mg tablet of OxyContin is similar to taking 8 Percocets at once. An 80mg tablet of OxyContin is like taking 16 Percocets all at once.
Users of OxyContin might experience:
- stoned / high
Q.) What are the side effects of OxyContin?
A.) Respiratory depression is the chief hazard of OxyContin. Respiratory depression
occurs most frequently in elderly or debilitated patients, usually following
large initial doses in non-tolerant patients. There is also a big risk when
OxyContin is given in conjunction with other substances that depress respiration.
Common OxyContin side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness,
vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness.
The side effects of OxyContin include but are not limited to:
- Gastrointestinal Tract and Other Smooth Muscle
Oxycodone causes a reduction in motility associated with an increase in smooth muscle tone in the antrum of the stomach and duodenum. Digestion of food in the small intestine is delayed and propulsive contractions are decreased. Propulsive peristaltic waves in the colon are decreased, while tone may be increased to the point of spasm resulting in constipation. Other opioid-induced effects may include a reduction in gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretions, spasm of sphincter of Oddi, and transient elevations in serum amylase.
- Cardiovascular System
Oxycodone may produce release of histamine with or without associated peripheral vasodilation. Manifestations of histamine release and/or peripheral vasodilation may include pruritus, flushing, red eyes, sweating, and/or orthostatic hypotension.
- Concentration--Efficacy Relationships (Pharmacodynamics)
Studies in normal volunteers and patients reveal predictable relationships between oxycodone dosage and plasma oxycodone concentrations, as well as between concentration and certain expected opioid effects. In normal volunteers these include pupillary constriction, sedation and overall "drug effect" and in patients, analgesia and feelings of "relaxation." In non-tolerant patients, analgesia is not usually seen at a plasma oxycodone concentration of less than 5&10 mg/mL.
Q.) What is OxyContin addiction?
A.) Physical addiction to OxyContin which is sometimes unavoidable develops when an individual is exposed to OxyContin at a high enough dose for an extended period of time. The user's body adapts and develops a tolerance for the OxyContin. This means that higher doses are needed to achieve the drug's original effects. OxyContin mimics the action of chemicals in your brain that send messages of pleasure to your brain's reward center. It produces an artificial feeling of pleasure. OxyContin is able to produce pleasurable effects by acting like normal brain messenger chemicals, which produce positive feelings in response to signals from the brain.
The result is of the predictable drug which, short circuits interests in and the motivation to make life's normal rewards work. More and more confidence is placed in OxyContin while other survival feelings are ignored and bypassed. The result of this addiction cycle is a lack of concern for, and confidence in, other areas of life.
Q.) What are the symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal?
A.) OxyContin withdrawal is similar heroin withdrawal in that it is almost
impossible to go through alone. Withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin are worse than
heroin and last longer. Professional help from a drug rehab center is the best
and safest way to do this. Unfortunately, there is no known "painless"
method for OxyContin withdrawal.
OxyContin withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
- perpetually being tired
- hot/cold sweats
- heart palpitations
- joints and muscles in constant pain
- uncontrollable coughing
- watery eyes
- excessive yawning
Q.) What are the symptoms of an OxyContin overdose?
A.) OxyContin is designed so that the oxycodone is slowly released over time, allowing it to be used twice daily. You should never break, chew, or crush the OxyContin tablet since this causes a large amount of oxycodone to be released from the tablet all at once. This could potentially result in a dangerous or fatal OxyContin overdose.
An overdose of OxyContin is serious and may require hospitalization. Occasionally, the individual needs to be temporarily hooked to a ventilator to help him breath until the OxyContin wears off.
Indications of an OxyContin overdose are:
- slow breathing (respiratory depression)
- loss of consciousness
- cold and clammy skin
- small pupils
- reduced vision
- clouding of mental functions
Q.) How is OxyContin detox accomplished?
A.) OxyContin detox is accomplished similarly to other drug detoxification. The individual is stepped down slowly off their dose of OxyContin until they no longer physically need to take it. Without this process, the withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin may be so severe that OxyContin detox may seem impossible to the individual.
OxyContin detox not only helps in easing the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the individual, but it also helps in the path of OxyContin addiction recovery. Detox from OxyContin is invaluable to recovery because it helps in diminishing cravings for OxyContin as well as ridding the body of harmful toxins deposited during OxyContin use.
Q.) What steps are currently being taken to address the widespread abuse of OxyContin?
A.) DEAs approach to dealing with the abuse and diversion of OxyContin® is consistent with the methods normally used in combating the diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances. These approaches include; liaison with the healthcare community, the pharmaceutical industry, and other domestic and international agencies; education of medical professionals regarding various scams that are used to obtain controlled substances for illicit purposes; and the investigation of suspected diverters.
Q.) What are some fast facts about OxyContin?
- OxyContin, approved by the FDA in 1995, is a time-released form of oxycodone, an opium derivative, which is the same active ingredient in Percodan and Percocet.
- The powerful prescription pain reliever has become a hot new street drug that has resulted in more than 120 deaths nationwide.
- Addiction and abuse of the drug, crime, and fatal overdoses have all been reported as a result of OxyContin use.
- OxyContin is intended for use by terminal cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers.
- It has been reported that OxyContin sales exceeded $1 billion in the United States in the year 2000.
Q.) What is the history of OxyContin?
A.) Oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin®, is a semi-synthetic opiate derived from thebaine, an element of morphine. Oxycodone has been in medical use for moderate to severe pain for many years, under a variety of brand names. Two drawbacks of the previously available brands are; they are available only in low dosages, so some patients must take many pills a day to get relief; they are found in combination with other drugs, like acetaminophen or aspirin, which can cause dangerous side effects when taken in large quantities.
OxyContin® went on the market in 1996. For patients with serious, ongoing pain, the drug is highly preferable to previous brands because it avoids their two drawbacks. OxyContin® contains no other active ingredients which can cause side effects. It comes in larger dosages with a special timed-release coating, so patients may take only two pills a day.
Legal sales of OxyContin® in 1996 reportedly totaled about $40 million. By 2000, sales were greater than $1 billion, making it the number one narcotic pain relief pill. Most of the pills sold are believed to have been used by legitimate patients.
In May 2001 OxyContin®s manufacturer voluntarily stopped selling their 160 milligram pill. The dosage in these pills, if taken all at once, could kill a first-time user. Critics of the company feared that this move would not have much of an effect, as the 160 mg pills only made up about 1% of the total amount of OxyContin® available.
Purdue Pharma announced in early August 2001 that they are working on a new
formulation of the drug that would make it harder to abuse. Such a formulation
could take three years or more to come to market, however.