Oxycodone, more widely known as Oxycontin, is a Schedule II narcotic, which allows for its use for medical purposes. Still, the drug’s production is limited and controlled by the FDA. Developed in the early 1900’s as a pain reliever that would replace morphine and heroin, Oxycontin was deemed unsafe by the United Nation’s Dangerous Drug Ordinance of 1960 due to the rise of Oxycontin addiction and abuse. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that it was approved for medical use in America by the FDA as a replacement for Vicodin. Because of its time-released characteristics, Oxy allowed patients to not have to take as many pills throughout the day. But there was a downside as well. Oxycontin is a powerful opioid that affects the levels of dopamine in the brain, which means it modifies the chemistry of the brain almost immediately and can result in a dependence being formed very quickly. This dependence is not only physical, but psychological as well, due to the fact that certain pleasure centers of the brain are sparked and reinforces use of the drug in a positive manner. Initially, the drug may have inadvertently helped the user deal with certain emotional or psychological issues. But over time, these issues can give way to newer, more severe problems, not the least of which is an Oxycontin addiction.
Health Concerns Regarding Oxycontin Addiction
There are numerous physiological signs of a developing Oxycontin addiction, including but not limited to: constricted pupils, dry itchy skin, slowed breathing, headaches, chronic fatigue, and respiratory infections like bronchitis. Overdose can be another serious risk with Oxycontin abuse, as many people crush the pill to circumvent the drug’s time-release qualities, which can turn out to be fatal or, only slightly better, lead to brain damage or a coma. Signs of an impending overdose may include clammy skin, cardiac arrest, slurred speech, loss of motor skills, and intense sweating. While these are simply the more immediate effects of Oxycontin addiction, the long-term effects can be more serious and persistent. The influence on the central nervous system can lead to severe organ damage and may come with a slew of longer lasting health issues. These health problems include eczema, chronic insomnia, fatigue, constipations, muscle spasms, stomach hemorrhaging, weakened immune system, increased sensitivity, an irregular heartbeat, liver damage or failure, loss of appetite, an enlarged prostate, and the list continues.
Oxycontin addiction will also affect a person’s emotional stability, making them prone to a range of psychological ailments such as depression, anxiety attacks, and even mood swings, especially when coming down from their high. Amnesia can even develop over extended use and may be accompanied by insomnia as well. There is often a shortened attention span, a lowered response time, decrease in cognitive capability for those with an Oxycontin addction. The memories of habitual users are also adversely affected due to the fact that Oxy hinders the brain from creating, retaining, and recalling memories on the spot, at the time of intoxication.
Oxycontin Addiction Statistics
Doctors contemplating prescribing this medication, as well as their patients, would be well-served by remembering the following statistics before writing the prescription:
— In the last 3 years, over 16 million Americans have abused prescription pain pills at least one time according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
— Over 5% of addicts have abused Oxycontin go on to use more serious and powerful drugs, as reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry;
— In 2012, approximately 15% of 12th graders were willing to take any prescription pill in an abusive manor (source: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-drugs).
If you or a loved one are in the midst of an Oxycontin addiction and are seeking help, please do not hesitate to call us at Axis West Treatment (866-737-3573) for more information on how our treatment plans can help you leave the pain and struggle behind.