The UK is currently facing an opioid crisis due to the overprescribing of powerful opiate and opioid analgesic drugs such as Oxycontin. The current painkiller epidemic is particularly evident in the north of England, where research has shown that painkilling opiates are prescribed up to four times more than in London.
Stronger opiates such as Oxycontin are not drugs that should be taken lightly. Abuse and addiction to Oxycontin can lead to death. Most people don’t realise that just because this drug is prescribed that it is any less dangerous than a Class A street drug when misused.
As many as 75% of Oxycodone users (the extended-release form of OxyContin) switch to heroin once they become Oxycodone tolerant.
Oxycontin itself is a drug that holds huge potential for abuse and is extremely addictive. If you or a loved one are suffering from Oxycodone or Oxycontin addiction, we urge you to seek professional addiction help without delay.
What is Oxycontin?
Oxycontin is a very powerful semi-synthetic opioid pain killer that belongs to a class of prescription medications known as opioid narcotic analgesics. It is usually only prescribed for severe pain and is most commonly used to control the pain in those suffering from cancer or post-operative pain.
OxyContin is the short release version of Oxycodone. Both medications are sometimes used in the treatment of long term chronic pain conditions, where tolerance to other opiate-based drugs has occurred.
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Oxycontin is derived from the opium poppy plant and works on the brain’s opioid receptors to change the way the body interprets and responds to pain, providing very effective pain relief.
The higher strengths of Oxycontin should only be used if a person is already used to the medication. Strengths of 40 milligrams or more can cause an overdose and death in someone who is not tolerant of opiates.
OxyContin immediate-release tablets start to work within 15 to 30 minutes from ingestion. The peak pharmaceutical effects can be felt within 1 hour, and OxyContins effects last between 3 to 6 hours, depending on the individual’s pain levels and their opiate tolerance.
OxyCodone controlled-release tablets are longer acting, and their effects can last for up to 12 hours. OxyCondones peak pharmaceutical effects can be felt 2 to 4 hours after ingestion. Oxycodone is harder to abuse than Oxycontin, which tends to be favoured by drug addicts for its fast and powerful delivery.
Forms of Oxycontin available
Oxycontin comes in various forms and is often combined with other analgesics for more effective pain relief. Oxycontin is available in the following forms in the UK:
- Oxycontin immediate-release tablets and capsules (brand names include OxyContin, Oxaydo, OxyFast, OxyIR, OxyNorm, Roxicodone and Roxybond)
- Oxycontin oral solution – Used for individuals that are unable to swallow tablets and also for breakthrough pain management in cancer patients. Oxycontin solution can also be administered intravenously through a tube.
- Oxycontin sublingual (under the tongue administration)
- Oxycontin extended-release tablets and capsules – OxyContin ER, OxyCodone and Xtampza ER – extended-release gradually releases a steady supply of oxycontin into the bloodstream over a period of 12 hours
- Immediate-release Oxycontin with paracetamol (brand names include Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet sand Tylox)
- Immediate-release Oxycontin with aspirin (brand names include Endodan, Oxycodan, Percodan and Roxiprin)
- Immediate-release Oxycontin with ibuprofen (Combunox)
- Extended-release Oxycontin with Naloxone (brand names include Targin, Targiniq and Targinact) works for 10-12 hours of controlled release
- Extended-release Oxycontin with naltrexone (Troxyca) works for 10-12 hours of controlled release
There is a very good reason why Oxycontin is the favoured prescribed drug by opiate addicts. Its effects are delivered quickly, and they are very potent.
In an individual that is suffering from a genuine pain condition, the medication works by delivering powerful pain relief. With an individual that has no pain, the drug works differently and produces sought after effects desired by those seeking to get high.
The sought after effects of Oxycontin include:
- A feeling of warmth and well being
Oxycontin’s desired outcomes can come at a high cost to an individual that is abusing the drug; Oxycontin is one of the more powerful opioid medications available on the market.
Misuse of Oxycontin can cause instant overdose and death; it can also lead to Oxycontin dependence and Oxycontin addiction.
Oxycontin warnings and precautions
Oxycontin comes with many warnings and precautions, all of which need to be taken seriously.
Taking Oxycontin both as prescribed and off prescription exposes patients to addiction, abuse and misuse of the drug, and opioid withdrawal symptoms
Taking Oxycontin for a prolonged period whilst pregnant can lead to neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome – a condition where the baby is born with physical dependence to Oxycontin from the mother’s blood. Babies born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome suffer from full-blown opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction, abuse and misuse of Oxycontin can lead to respiratory depression and death.
Life-threatening respiratory depression is more likely to occur in patients who are opiate intolerant, those that snort or inject the drug, and those who mix Oxycontin with alcohol or other depressant drugs including opiates, sedatives and benzodiazepines.
Oxycontin tablets should be swallowed whole – crushing, chewing or dissolving Oxycontin tablets can cause rapid release and absorption, leading to a potentially fatal dose.
Those that become addicted to Oxycontin or abuse it are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin according to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health
Oxycontin prescribing is only indicated for those that require severe pain management around the clock and not for an as-needed basis. This is due to its potency; patients must be opioid-tolerant and correctly titrated with medical supervision in order to avoid an overdose.
Oxycontin in any form is not suitable for those that have addiction problems past or present.
As a Class C controlled drug, prescribers should assess each individual patient carefully and only prescribe oxycontin where alternative medications are no longer sufficient or suitable.
Oxycontin painkiller abuse is widespread. Drug addicts and those that abuse drugs favour it over other drugs for the following reasons:
- It is easy to obtain – from the internet friends, relatives and street dealers
- It delivers a very powerful and lasting euphoric high
- It is perceived as safer than Class A street drugs such as heroin as it is a prescribed medication
Abuse of Oxycontin and Oxycodone is hazardous and can easily lead to drug addiction and drug dependence.
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OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma faces bankruptcy
Purdue Pharma, who is a huge and established US pharmaceutical company and the manufacturers of OxyContin took drastic action earlier this year in response to the rapid rise in deaths associated with this drug.
Purdue laid off their entire sales team following more than 2,000 allegations and lawsuits from cities, states and counties in the US. Purdue Pharma’s sales of OxyContin has been alleged to have fuelled the US opioid crisis; the company are now facing bankruptcy.
The UK is also facing an opioid crisis. Statistics taken from NHS Digital show a vast increase in the number of people attending hospital with prescription opioid poisoning and overdose.
Figures have more than doubled in England for hospital admissions relating to prescription opiates – from 4,891 people in 2005-06 to 11,660 in 2016.
This just goes to show that whilst there are tighter controls in place for the prescribing of Oxycontin and other strong opioid drugs, people are still able to obtain and abuse them easily.
Oxycontin addiction can occur as a result of abusing this heavyweight opioid. It can also occur as a result of taking a prescription for genuine reasons. Oxycontin dependence develops quickly, as does Oxycontin tolerance. A person who is taking a prescription for a prolonged period of time is more vulnerable to developing an addiction as well as dependence.
You may well ask – What is the difference is between addiction and dependence?
An individual with Oxycontin dependence will be able to wean off the medication and stay off the medication. They may even require an Oxycontin detox, but once the drug has been safely removed from their system, they are able to carry on as normal and continue with their life Oxycontin free.
A person suffering from Oxycontin addiction, on the other hand, will struggle to reduce the amount they are taking and often abuse the medication or increase the dosage themselves when tolerant to its effects. They will go to extreme measures to ensure that they have a constant supply of Oxycontin available. This may include manipulating and lying to doctors, stealing Oxycontin off others or buying from the dark web or street dealers.
Once an addicted individual is detoxed safely from Oxycontin, they will still crave the drug, and their thoughts will be preoccupied with obtaining it. They will reminisce over what Oxycontin did for them as opposed to them. They will be highly susceptible to relapse.
Addiction is a disease of the brain which occurs through repeated exposure to a certain drug or drugs. The brain’s pathways are chemically altered over time to seek and take the drug. This remains even once the drug has been removed.
Oxycontin addiction is characterised by repeated relapse on Oxycontin or a similar potent opiate, obsessive and dysfunctional thought patterns and compulsive and destructive behaviour.
Oxycontin addiction requires more than just detox in order for the individual to stay in recovery and free from Oxycontin. A substantial change in mindset, willingness to work on recovery and a change in behaviour is also needed.
Free rehab for Oxycontin addiction
If you have an addiction to Oxycontin and are looking for a free drug rehab programme, please contact your local drug and alcohol team for community support and to find out what your local services offer.
Sadly due to significant funding cuts to drug and alcohol services in the UK, free drug rehab places are very few and far between. You can, however, access support in the community.
Help for Oxycontin addiction can also be sought through mutual aid support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Smart Recovery.
If you are a family member or loved one of someone with an Oxycontin addiction and require support yourself, please contact Adfam who can advise you of local self-help and support groups
Oxycontin addiction treatment and Oxycontin rehab
For those suffering from Oxycontin addiction, ideally, a comprehensive drug rehab programme is recommended following an Oxycontin detox.
Detox Plus UK specialises in the treatment of opiate addictions. We can help you or your loved one to break from the misery and pain of addiction and show you how to create a life that is drug-free, productive, and beyond what you ever thought possible.
Oxycontin addiction and abuse kills; addiction is a life-threatening illness that requires specialist treatment delivered by qualified addiction treatment professionals.
By undergoing treatment at one of our CQC drug rehabs in the UK, you will benefit from numerous evidence-based treatments designed to unearth and heal the root causes of addiction.
Drug rehab for Oxycontin addiction also offers the following benefits:
- A full medical Oxycontin detox where dependence is identified. This will enable you to become Oxycontin free!
- 24/7 care from medical and addiction treatment professionals
- A comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation
- A bespoke drug rehabilitation programme
- A safe and nurturing recovery-focused environment that is conducive to healing
- Undergo evidence-based addiction treatments that are adapted to your individual treatment needs
- Be shown the tools of recovery and essential relapse prevention techniques
- Benefit from a full holistic rehab programme including therapies such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, art, drama, tai chi, fitness, music and more.
- Learn how to have fun and enjoy life once again in a drug-free environment
- Be shown how to build healthy relationships with others and repair some of the damage from your past
There are numerous benefits to attending a drug rehab for Oxycontin addiction. Our rehab centres and detox clinics ensure that every patient receives a completely bespoke treatment programme. We understand that there is no one size that fits all when it comes to successfully treating addiction. We also realise that aftercare and continued support on completion of treatment is an essential part of recovery in the early days.
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