Oxycodone is an opiate analgesic for the relief of moderate to severe pain. It was developed in 1916 in a German laboratory and has a similar chemical structure to that of codeine. Oxycodone is derived from thebaine, an opiate alkaloid.
OxyContin is the extended-release version of oxycodone and was introduced in the U.S. in 1996. Oxycodone can be administered orally, rectally, intranasally or through intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections.
OxyContin is available in the U.S. in dosages of 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg and 80 mg. Because of its sustained-release formula, it is usually effective for 8-12 hours. Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance. Oxycodone is used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain and is available in both extended release ad immediate release tablets.
Oxycodone is used for the continuous treatment of pain and for those whose doctors have found them to be opiate tolerant. Oxycodone may be habit forming and should be taken exactly as directed.
Oxycodone patients should not take more of this medicine than prescribed or take it more frequently than prescribed. For those who have abused Oxycodone, a sudden discontinuation of use may result in withdrawal syndrome.
Both oxycodone and OxyContin have the potential for abuse and dependence. Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin , has been involved in legal action for misbranding practices and misleading the public about its potential for abuse, addiction and withdrawal. The company’s top executives pleaded guilty for related charges and paid millions of dollars in fines for marketing the drug aggressively for off-label use.
The federal government regulates drugs, classifying them based on their potential for abuse and dependence. A prescription is needed for oxycodone-based drugs and they cannot be called in to a pharmacy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit use of prescription drugs – especially painkillers – is on the rise. Many are obtained through falsified prescriptions, “doctor shopping,” pharmacy diversion, theft and illegal sale and trade.
Oxycodone Side Effects
Side effects reported with oxycodone use include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Cramps and abdominal pain
In rare cases, oxycodone has been reported to cause impotence and enlargement of the prostate gland. In patients who aren’t tolerant to opiates, or in the case of overdose, effects can be more serious. They include shallow breathing, cold and clammy skin, hypotension, pupil constriction, circulatory collapse, respiratory arrest and death.
People taking oxycodone should reduce their use slowly. Stopping abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms to set in quickly. Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever with similar properties to that of Morphine. The physical and psychological discomfort of withdrawal is one of the main reasons people delay seeking treatment for an opiate addiction.
Symptoms of withdrawal are much the same for all narcotic pain medications. They include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- flu-like symptoms
- tremors and restlessness.
Detoxing from opiates can be difficult, especially in those who have used drugs for a long time, at high doses. Often it is difficult to stop using opiates without help.
In-patient and out-patient treatment centers offer a variety of therapies for addiction. Depending on the severity and length of abuse, treatment could entail detox, rehabilitation and counseling. Hospital-based programs are available to provide supervision and medical services to make detox safe and comfortable.
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