Oxycontin (Generic - Oxycodone) is a powerful pain medication used to treat people with severe health conditions. Doctors prescribe it to help with moderate to severe pain. Like many other pain medications, Oxycontin is in the opioid family.
Millions of Americans take Oxycontin every year. While the drug effectively treats pain, it is also very addictive. When their prescriptions run out, many people turn to the black market to buy pills from other people.
There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion surrounding Oxycontin and its role as one of the most prominent drugs contributing to the national opiate epidemic. The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Oxycontin, its risks, and legal information.
Is there a difference between Oxycontin and Oxycodone?
Oxycodone and Oxycontin are both narcotic painkillers. Essentially, Oxycontin is the brand name for the generic drug Oxycodone. Oxycodone manufacturers combined the opiate with non-narcotic analgesics such as acetaminophen.
Some of the opiate prescription drugs associated with Oxycontin include:
- Percodan (Oxycodone and aspirin)
- Percocet (Oxycodone and acetaminophen)
The main ingredient in Oxycontin is Oxycodone. However, companies manufacture Oxycontin to include a time-release mechanism. This means Oxycontin users don't have to take the medication as often.
It is worth mentioning that there are street names for this drug as well. For example, illegal drug dealers refer to Oxycontin as "Roxys," “Percs," "Whites," "Cotton," “Oxy," and "Killers." Many people also refer to the drug based on its strength, such as calling ten-milligram Oxycontin "tens" on the street.
What conditions does Oxycontin treat?
Oxycontin relieves ongoing pain associated with cancer, arthritis, and other conditions. However, it's not intended to relieve mild pain or discomfort that will subside in a few days. Doctors should only prescribe Oxycontin to people with chronic moderate to severe pain.
Oxycontin is not for people who need help on an as-needed basis. For mild to moderate pain, doctors tell patients to use over-the-counter analgesics. Unfortunately, once people develop a physical dependence on the medication, they may exaggerate their symptoms to convince their doctor they need Oxycontin. This is one of the reasons so many people have become addicted to this powerful drug.
When do doctors prescribe Oxycontin?
Doctors only prescribe Oxycontin (or Oxycodone) to patients with tremendous pain. Sometimes, they prescribe this drug in low doses for patients after they undergo outpatient surgery. Other times, healthcare providers give this medication to patients with a chronic or terminal condition.
Some of the health issues Oxycontin addresses include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic pain
- Serious injuries
The goal is for the patient to be on this drug briefly. Doctors may also prescribe Oxycontin over the long term for patients with a chronic or terminal condition. In these cases, the drug dosage is often much higher than for ordinary patients.
Do I need a prescription to take Oxycontin?
Yes, you need a physician's prescription to get Oxycontin. Unfortunately, doctors expect their patients to wean off the drug at some point. Since the drug is so addictive, however, some patients resort to obtaining the medication illegally.
What are the side effects of Oxycontin?
Like most other medications, Oxycontin has adverse side effects. Many of these side effects occur regardless of whether the patient takes the drug for short-term or long-term pain relief.
Some of the common side effects of prescription opioids include:
- Stomach pain
- Light headiness
- Muscle weakness
- Itching, headache
- Dry mouth
- Decrease in the ability to feel pain
- Respiratory depression,
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Abnormal heartbeat
If you experience any of these side effects to the point where you are uncomfortable, contact your prescribing physician and let them know. They may be able to prescribe an alternate medication that has fewer side effects.
What are the risks associated with taking Oxycontin?
Taking Oxycontin with other drugs increases the risk of adverse side effects. When you take Oxycontin, there is also the chance that it will interact negatively with other medications.
Some of the drugs that pose dangerous effects when combined with Oxycontin include the following:
- Other narcotic pain medications
- Sleeping pills
- Anxiety medication (benzodiazepines)
- Muscle relaxers
Oxycontin, like other opioids, is highly addictive. Some patients may not become addicted but may instead develop a tolerance for Oxycontin. Your doctor must help you slowly wean off the drug when this happens.
People who develop an opioid addiction often fear letting their doctors know. Instead, they seek opioid drugs through illegal means. Many others seek treatment for their addiction. Some medications used to help with substance abuse and opioid addiction include naloxone, buprenorphine, and methadone.
What's the dosage for Oxycontin?
Oxycontin is available in controlled-release at several dosages, including 5/10/15/20/30/40/80 milligrams. The starting dosage for patients who aren't opioid tolerant is usually 5 milligrams orally every four to six hours.
What about Oxycontin OP?
Oxycontin OP is a reformulated version of Oxycontin. The drug maker, Purdue Pharma, made changes to control the misuse of Oxycontin. Abusers of opioid medications may crush the tablet to ingest or snort it, or they dilute it in water and inject it. Taking the drug this way results in an immediate high that users compare to the euphoria of illicit drugs like heroin.
Oxycontin OP, unlike the original version of Oxycontin, doesn't offer immediate release when broken up. It is also difficult to dissolve or crush this version of the drug. That is why many healthcare providers choose this drug over the original versions of Oxycontin.
What is the treatment for opioid abuse/oxycontin addiction?
Regarding Oxycontin and other opioid addiction, some people take five to ten times more than they should. Others eventually turn to other methods of taking the drug, such as via injections, because they do not feel the effects when they take it orally.
Once a person accepts that they are addicted and need help with their drug use, various treatments are available. Some people choose to enter detoxification and rehabilitation. These places have healthcare professionals experienced with addiction. Others opt to visit a methadone clinic for help or meet with a doctor who specializes in addiction treatment.
How can opioid misuse be prevented?
Some assume people dependent on Oxycontin can just kick the habit without realizing how difficult this can be. The side effects of opiate withdrawal are severe. Unsurprisingly, many people continue to take the drug even after learning they are addicted.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms of Oxycontin include the following:
- Restless leg syndrome
Ideally, a person would talk to a substance abuse treatment counselor before they attempt to wean themselves off Oxycontin. Unfortunately, as with most controlled substances, getting treatment is not as easy as it sounds.
Can you file a lawsuit based on Oxycontin addiction?
The short answer to this question is yes. Companies that make Oxycontin, such as Purdue Pharma, must ensure the safety of their products. They are liable for certain damages associated with Oxycontin's misuse and abuse.
There are numerous lawsuits regarding the drug maker's role in the nation's opioid crisis. Addicted patients have filed opioid lawsuits. In addition, counties and State Attorneys General have also filed suit against the drug manufacturers.
These lawsuits are difficult to prove. The drug manufacturers blame the patient and, sometimes, their doctors for misuse and abuse. They argue that they provide medications that doctors prescribe. However, given that Oxycontin and other opiates are Schedule II narcotics, special rules apply.
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