Oxycodone/ OxyContin Addiction

What is Oxycodone/ OxyContin?

OxyContin is the a trade name for the narcotic oxycodone hydrochloride, is a painkiller available in the United States only by prescription. Oxycodone/ OxyContin is legitimately prescribed for relief of moderate to severe pain resulting from injuries, bursitis, neuralgia, arthritis, and cancer. Individuals abuse oxycodone/ OxyContin for the euphoric effect it produces--an effect similar to that associated with heroin use.

How is Oxycodone/ OxyContin Abused?

Oxycodone/ OxyContin tablets have a controlled-release feature and are designed to be swallowed whole. In order to bypass the controlled-release feature, abusers either chew or crush the tablets. Crushed tablets can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. 

Smoking of oxycodone/ OxyContin is the most commonly seen form of abuse in Snohomish County.  This is commonly done by using foil and a heat source.

The new form of OxyContin released in Sept 2010 by Purdue Pharma is more tamper-resistant, due to its chemical make up.

How Does Oxycodone/ OxyContin Affect the Brain?

Opioids act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. When these compounds attach to certain opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, they can effectively change the way a person experiences pain.

In addition, opioid medications can affect regions of the brain that mediate what one perceives as pleasure, resulting in the initial euphoria or sense of well-being that many opioids produce. Repeated abuse of opioids can lead to addiction—a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful consequences.

What Other Adverse Effects Does Oxycodone/ OxyContin Have on Health?

Individuals who abuse oxycodone/ OxyContin risk developing tolerance for the drug, meaning they must take increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effects. Long-term abuse of the drug can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Individuals who become dependent upon or addicted to the drug may experience withdrawal symptoms if they cease using the drug.

What Treatment Options Exist?

Individuals who abuse or are addicted to prescription opioid medications can be treated. Initially, they may need to undergo medically supervised detoxification to help reduce withdrawal symptoms; however, that is just the first step. Options for effectively treating addiction to prescription opioids are drawn from research on treating heroin addiction. Behavioral treatments, usually combined with medications, have also been proven effective. Currently used medications are—

Withdrawal symptoms associated with oxycodone/ OxyContin dependency or addiction include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements.

Individuals who take a large dose of oxycodone/ OxyContin are at risk of severe respiratory depression that can lead to death. Inexperienced and new users are at particular risk, because they may be unaware of what constitutes a large dose and have not developed a tolerance for the drug. 

  • Methadone, a synthetic opioid that eliminates withdrawal symptoms and relieves craving, has been used successfully for more than 30 years to treat people addicted to heroin as well as opiates.
  • Buprenorphine, another synthetic opioid, is a more recently approved medication for treating addiction to heroin and other opiates. It can be prescribed in a physician’s office.
  • Naltrexone is a long-acting opioid receptor blocker that can be employed to help prevent relapse. It is not widely used, however, because of poor compliance, except by highly motivated individuals (e.g., physicians at risk of losing their medical license). It should be noted that this medication can only be used for someone who has already been detoxified, since it can produce severe withdrawal symptoms in a person continuing to abuse opioids. 
  • Naloxone is a short-acting opioid receptor blocker that counteracts the effects of opioids and can be used to treat overdoses.

Source
NDIC and NIDA and SRDTF