In an earlier news article, we reported that prescription drug abuse is now one of the leading avenues whereby many unaware American public are becoming seriously addicted to drugs, and opiate addiction is the leading prescription drug problem. Before you or a loved one accepts a prescription for OxyContin, you should know the facts about this drug:
What is OxyContin?
OxyContin is the trade name for the strong narcotic (opiate) oxycodone hydrochloride.
The FDA has classified OxyContin as a Schedule II narcotic, which is the highest level of restriction on any prescription medication; however, the FDA permits legitimate prescriptions for this drug to treat moderate to severe pain. Patients wanting this drug can always attest to headaches and other common pains as having moderate to severe pain, which releases a doctor from any legal prescribing restrictions.
How is OxyContin Used and Abused?
OxyContin tablets have a controlled-release feature and are designed to be taken six to eight hours apart, but the entire dose of opiate painkiller can be delivered to the blood stream at one time by chewing the tablets, or worse, by crushing them and snorting the powder or dissolving it in water and injecting it into one’s veins.
How Many Americans are Abusing OxyContin?
The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reports that nearly one million American residents aged 12 and older used OxyContin for non-medical uses at least once in their lifetime and 4% of high school seniors abused the drug at least once in the past year, according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey.
Does Taking OxyContin Cause Physical and Psychological Addiction?
Emphatically YES! All opiates are both physically and mentally addicting. Opiates repress and replace the natural endorphins, or “feel good” neuro-hormones in our bodies. Continual consumption of the opiates will lead to a tolerance for the drug, requiring larger and larger doses to elicit a similar response experienced with the initial dose.
Depending on unknown personal differences, a person taking as little as three to five doses, can become physically addicted, meaning that he will experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as he stops taking the drug. Mentally, withdrawal symptoms cause severe anxiety and a preoccupation with the drug. This anxiety is accompanied with depression and an inability to care about anything other than finding and taking the drug.
At the same time, the body is also going through uncomfortable changes that can be so severe that when first experienced, the person thinks they are having a heart attack, convulsions or some ailment that requires medical attention. The physical withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, including severe leg cramps; insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, hot and cold flashes, involuntary leg movements, and with larger doses of the drug, the respiratory system can be depressed to a point of suffocation.
Those persons that inject these drugs are also at high risk for other complications, including contracting HIV, hepatitis B and C and other blood-borne viruses and bacteria.
With Such Severe Side Effects, Why are so Many People Becoming Addicted to OxyContin?
OxyContin is a powerful painkiller and acts on the part of the brain and cells in an identical fashion as endorphins, our natural “feel good” neuro-hormones. Therefore, any pain is reduced or eliminated, even feelings as minor as social discomfort and boredom, or more severe problems like; anxiety and depression or headaches. These most common human frustrations are temporarily relieved, but when they return, the body is no longer equipped with its natural resilience, and a person feels the need for more opiates. When the endorphins are replaced with larger quantities of a similar chemical, you feel happiness and euphoria that is usually reserved for the most thrilling moments in our lives. These “highs” have been described as similar to feelings that are associated with major accomplishment, like graduation, weddings and other equally momentous occasions.
The absence of opiates after artificially inducing these feelings is extremely dehumanizing and leads one to seeking instant gratification which is found by taking more of the same or other drugs. The long-term effect of being addicted to OxyContin requires extensive physical detoxification and the lengthy process of rekindling a person’s enthusiasm to find enjoyment in a drug-free life.
Given the consequences of opiate addiction and the strength of these opiate painkillers, they should be reserved for intractable pain from cancer and surgeries and never seen as a drug of choice or “recreation”. The pain and personal suffering that is seen from opiate addiction cannot be taken lightly.