OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, an opiate painkiller medication commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. When the medication is used exactly as prescribed, it can be highly effective. However, when the medication is used for non-medical purposes or in any way other than a doctor prescribed, it has the potential to cause some serious side effects and symptoms. Here are some quick OxyContin facts to consider:
- OxyContin is a semi-synthetic opiate medication created from thebaine, an alkaloid found within the opium poppy.
- It’s estimated that the immediate release formulation of OxyContin is approximately 1.5 times more potent than morphine. Extended release formulations of oxycodone are considered to be twice as potent as morphine.
- One of the more concerning OxyContin facts is that the medication is considered a gateway drug (3). Studies show that people who abuse oxycodone are more likely to progress to intravenous heroin use as the addiction to opiate drugs deepens. Buying OxyContin on the black market can be expensive, which leads many users to turn to heroin as a cheaper and more readily available alternative.
- Many users assume that taking oxycodone in order to get high must be somehow safer than illicit street drugs like heroin as the medication was prescribed by a doctor.
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were 53 million oxycodone prescriptions filled by US pharmacies in 2013. While many of those prescriptions were for legitimate medical use, a large number are diverted onto the black market for sale as recreational opioid drugs.
- Oxycodone abuse statistics show that a person who abuses the medication over a period of time may develop tolerance to the drug’s effects. The user feels the need to take higher doses in order to achieve the same effects that used to be reached with much smaller amounts.
- More Americans die each year from overdosing on prescription opioid painkiller medications than from heroin. In 2015, a total of 33,000 people died in the US from overdosing on opioid drugs. Of those deaths, 13,000 were caused by heroin. OxyContin statistics show that the remaining deaths were caused by abusing prescription opiate medications (1).
- Oxycodone abuse statistics show that OxyContin is listed as one of the most commonly overdosed opiate drugs, along with methadone and hydrocodone (Vicodin) (2). Approximately 1,000 people per day are treated in emergency rooms across America for overdosing on opioid drugs. If a user attempts to crush an oxycodone pill in order to snort or inject it, the risk of accidental overdose is dramatically increased.
- Abusing OxyContin over a prolonged period of time increases the risk of developing a physical dependency on the substance. If a person with a physical dependency tries to stop usage suddenly, it’s likely that a range of unpleasant and painful withdrawal symptoms may emerge.
- The withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxing from OxyContin are identical to those caused by withdrawing from heroin. However, as oxycodone has a much longer half-life than heroin, the symptoms can extend for a longer period of time.
- Of all the OxyContin facts and statistics available, the one that surprises users the most is that treating oxycodone addiction is identical to treating heroin addiction. Drug rehab centers use prescription medications such as Suboxone or methadone to safely manage the detox process and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.