If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 OxyContin Helpline at 877-793-1090.
OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, a prescription opioid medication used to manage long-lasting and severe pain that does not respond to other medications. OxyContin is the brand name referring to an extended-release formulation of oxycodone, the active ingredient. Typically, this type of painkiller is prescribed for moderate to severe pain caused by a variety of diagnoses ranging from arthritis to cancer.
People who misuse opioids like OxyContin may do so because it gives them a feeling of euphoria. Opioids can be addictive, and misuse can lead to the development of a substance use disorder and ultimately even death. It is estimated that approximately 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose, so it’s important to understand OxyContin addiction to recognize when it is being misused.
What Is OxyContin?
OxyContin is the brand name for a long-acting, or extended-release, form of oxycodone. Oxycodone is a synthetic form, or derivative, of morphine, originally isolated from the opium poppy plant. OxyContin acts on pain receptors in the brain to create a feeling of relaxation and pain-relieving effects via the brain’s endogenous opioid system. Endogenous opioids are opioids that are found in the brain naturally.
When you compare the two names, you might be wondering, “what is the difference between oxycodone and OxyContin?” Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin and it is available in an immediate-release formulation under the brand names Roxicodone or Roxybond. Oxycodone is also available in combination with other pain medications, such as when combined with aspirin as the brand name Percodan. OxyContin specifically refers to oxycodone with a coating that makes it extended-release.
What Is OxyContin Used For?
OxyContin is useful for severe, chronic pain that is associated with conditions like cancer and arthritis. Sometimes OxyContin is prescribed to patients when they no longer respond to other opioids because of tolerance. In other words, once people develop a tolerance to the pain medication they’ve been taking, OxyContin may be a better option to provide pain control.
OxyContin has a high abuse potential and misuse of the drug may lead to addiction. Opioids such as OxyContin can also make people feel relaxed and experience euphoria, or a mental “high”, which is why they are sometimes taken for recreational reasons. This can be dangerous because opioids suppress the respiratory system, making overdose and death possible.
Dosage & Administration
There are guidelines that physicians follow when prescribing OxyContin. Broadly speaking, patients should always use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time. The starting OxyContin dose for patients who have not taken other opiates is 10 mg every 12 hours. It is typical for OxyContin to be taken every 12 hours to maintain around-the-clock pain care because of the extended-release coating.
OxyContin pills are available in 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 30mg, 40mg, 60mg and 80mg tablets. The maximum dose of OxyContin per day depends on the individual, the specifics of their medical condition and their tolerance based on their previous history of prescription opioid use.
OxyContin tablets should only ever be taken whole and as directed. They should never be crushed, chewed or broken in any way. If someone you know is crushing OxyContin pills in order to snort, smoke or inject them, this is a sign that they are abusing the drug.
What Does OxyContin Look Like?
OxyContin tablets are small and round, with numbers engraved on them to indicate the strength. These tablets can be several different colors including white, blue, brown and yellow. Pictures of OxyContin can be referenced or you can call your local pharmacy if you need help identifying a certain pill. All OxyContin tablets are imprinted with “OC” on one side and the strength on the other.
- OxyContin 10mg: White tablets with “10” imprinted
- OxyContin 15mg: Gray tablets with “15” imprinted
- OxyContin 20mg: Pink tablets with “20” imprinted
- OxyContin 30mg: Brown tablets with “30” imprinted
- OxyContin 40mg: Yellow tablets with “40” imprinted
- OxyContin 60mg: Red tablets with “60” imprinted
- OxyContin 80mg: Green tablets with “80” imprinted
Street Names for OxyContin
If someone buys OxyContin without a prescription illegally, or “off the street”, it is likely that the pills are referred to by a street name. Some of the common street names for OxyContin include:
- Hillbilly Heroin
- Oxy Cotton
OxyContin Side Effects
In the short term, OxyContin can relieve pain and provide a feeling of relaxation or happiness, but there are many other physical and psychological side effects of this medication. OxyContin can affect people differently depending on specific factors such as age or if they are pregnant.
The most common physical side effects of OxyContin are:
- Abdominal pain
OxyContin’s effects on the body can be overwhelming. These can serve as early indicators that someone is misusing OxyContin.
OxyContin misuse can also affect an individual’s psychological or mental well-being. After taking OxyContin over an extended period of time, it will cause a depletion in neurochemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine, that normally make an individual feel happy. When OxyContin floods the brain, it targets the brain’s natural reward circuitry by activating dopamine receptors. Over time, this causes the brain to produce less dopamine on its own because it senses there is already too much dopamine in the brain. This can have adverse effects on mood.
As a result, psychological side effects of OxyContin are also common and can include:
- Anxiety in the form of nervousness or panic attacks
- Depression demonstrated by extreme sadness, apathy and social withdrawal
- Psychosis, or a disconnection from reality
OxyContin Side Effects in Elderly
OxyContin side effects in elderly individuals can be even more pronounced. Aging populations are particularly at risk for opioid addiction because they are more likely to have access to the drug through a legitimate prescription. They are also more sensitive to the medication’s effects. Elderly individuals can be more likely to experience stronger OxyContin withdrawal symptoms and have a greater possibility of an overdose.
OxyContin During Pregnancy
OxyContin crosses the placental barrier, meaning a pregnant woman’s baby will also get a dose of the medication. As such, it is possible for the baby to experience many of the side effects, such as respiratory depression during an overdose. Furthermore, prolonged use of OxyContin while pregnant can lead to neonatal withdrawal syndrome after the baby is born. It’s sometimes necessary for the newborn baby to undergo medical detox with medications. It perhaps goes without saying that OxyContin and pregnancy is not a safe combination.
Is OxyContin Addictive?
OxyContin has the potential for addiction because of the way opioids trigger dopamine release in the brain, reinforcing the act of taking the drug and leading to addiction.
Certain areas of the brain, like the hippocampus, also create a long-lasting memory that pairs the good feelings associated with OxyContin with the circumstances and places in which they occur. These memories often lead to drug cravings when the person struggling with addiction re-encounters those people, places or things, driving people to seek out more drugs even in the face of family or legal intervention.
Many people also wonder: How long does it take to become addicted to OxyContin? The answer is complicated, and depends on the person. In general, because OxyContin is so potent, the transition from use to addiction can be a fairly quick one.
So, how can you tell if someone you love is addicted to OxyContin? Certain behavioral changes can be an indicator:
- Prolonged euphoria or delight
- Social withdrawal
- Changes in mood, including anxiety
- Stealing to have access to the drug
- Neglecting physical appearance
- Neglecting personal responsibilities, including school, work, family or friends
- Excessive preoccupation thinking about how to obtain OxyContin
Can You Overdose on OxyContin?
How much OxyContin does it take to have an overdose? Even a single dose of OxyContin can be fatal. People who misuse OxyContin by snorting, smoking or injecting it bypass the slow release mechanism to release the drug into their body at once rather than over an extended period of 12 hours. This can be enough to cause respiratory failure and death.
Symptoms of overdose on OxyContin include:
- Respiratory depression
- Extreme sleepiness or drowsiness
- Small, constricted pupils
- Cold or clammy skin
- Muscle weakness
- Pulmonary edema, or fluid buildup in the lungs
How Long Does OxyContin Stay in Your System?
Unlike oxycodone instant-release formulations, OxyContin is designed with a long-lasting, extended-release formulation. This means that it is gradually absorbed into your bloodstream over a period of about 12 hours after taking a dose.
Although the medication is designed to be slow-release, people can find ways to consume OxyContin that greatly accelerate its actions, including snorting or smoking crushed pills or dissolving the tablet and injecting it with a needle. When taken in any of these ways, OxyContin enters the system very quickly. From there, it has a half-life of about 3.5 hours.
The half-life of a drug is the period of time that it takes for the concentration of drug in the body to be reduced by exactly one half. Since OxyContin has a half-life of 3.5 hours when misused, it will take approximately 18 hours for the body to eliminate it completely.
Does this mean OxyContin is only detectable for 18 hours? Not exactly. Metabolites of a drug can linger for much longer than the drug itself. This, in part, depends on how OxyContin levels are detected, whether by testing blood, urine, hair or breastmilk. The amount of OxyContin in the body will depend not only on how it is being measured, but also on factors such as age, weight, the amount of the drug typically consumed and more.
- Blood: Although it isn’t the most common way to perform a drug test, OxyContin and its metabolites are detectable in an individual’s blood. Typically, in blood samples, OxyContin is detectable for up to 24 hours.
- Urine: Urine tests are a far more common method to test for drug use. OxyContin typically stays in the urine longer than it does the blood and is detectable for approximately three to four days.
- Hair: Hair tests are useful when evaluating a longer timeframe. OxyContin is typically detectable in hair samples for up to 90 days.
- Breast milk: Some drugs pass from the bloodstream into milk glands very easily, including OxyContin. Is OxyContin use during pregnancy a good idea? For some medical reasons, it can be impossible for a mother to completely discontinue opioid use. It is recommended that the continuous use of opioids should be limited to less than two to three days. After this amount of time, OxyContin levels become dangerously high in infants. In one study, oxycodone could be detected in breast milk from four to 36 hours, depending on how many doses of oxycodone were taken. As always, specific questions should be directed to your provider.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to OxyContin, help is one phone call away at Orlando Recovery Center. Contact us to learn about our personalized and confidential services that will best fit your situation, and make the first step towards recovery today.
When an opioid like OxyContin is used on a regular basis, tolerance can develop. This happens as the brain’s response to repeated stimulation. As a result of tolerance, it can take more and more of a drug to feel the same effect. Physical dependence is also possible, where the brain and body become accustomed to the drug’s presence and therefore cannot function normally without it. When a dependent individual stops taking the medication, this can lead to OxyContin withdrawal.
Opioid withdrawal can be dangerous, but medical detox or an OxyContin taper can help. Your doctor can work with you to develop a taper plan, which slowly decreases the amount of the drug. This can help minimize withdrawal symptoms and make the entire process safer and more comfortable.
OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms
Tapering down too quickly or attempting to stop OxyContin “cold turkey” can lead to symptoms of withdrawal, including:
- Body aches
- Runny nose
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Inability to concentrate
- Thoughts of suicide
OxyContin Addiction Treatment
In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million Americans age 12 or over misused opioids like OxyContin, and prescription misuse was the second most common form of illicit drug use. Central Florida, in particular, has seen a 70% increase in drug overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding safe and effective help is more important now than ever before.
Fortunately, help is available. If you or someone you care about is struggling with OxyContin addiction, professional facilities like Orlando Recovery Center are here to help. At Orlando Recovery Center, there are many options including safe, medically assisted detox, inpatient and outpatient care, and aftercare support.
Contact us today to start your journey towards a healthier, opioid-free life for you or someone you love.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.