The Progression of Oxycontin Addiction

Oxycontin, one of the most powerful pain relieving medications in existence, offers considerable relief for people suffering from moderate to severe pain symptoms. Though effective it may be, this drug places users at high risk of developing Oxycontin addiction.

Within the past decade, Oxycontin has become one of the most abused prescription drugs on the market. Unlike many other prescription opiates, Oxycontin has a time-release mechanism that can provide ongoing pain relief for up to 24 hours. This time-release feature has contributed to the drug’s widespread abuse over the years. This time-release feature also increases the rate at which Oxycontin addictions develop.

When taken as prescribed, Oxycontin carries a low risk for abuse and addiction. Exceeding prescribed limits leaves a person open to the rapid tolerance level effects this drug produces. From there, Oxycontin addiction progresses with users growing increasingly dependent on the drug’s effects.

Oxycontin Addiction Potential

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Taking Oxycontin regularly can lead to addiction.

Manufactured by Purdue Pharma Corporation, Oxycontin is the trade name for oxycodone controlled-release tablets. Tablet dosage levels come in 10, 20, 40 and 80 milligrams.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, Oxycontin’s powerful analgesic effects place this drug in the Schedule II class of controlled substances. As far as legal, prescription drugs go Schedule II contains the most addictive substances of all with drugs like heroin, cocaine and crystal meth falling under the Schedule I classification.

The common practice of crushing up tablets and snorting or injecting the drug makes users even more susceptible to Oxycontin addiction risks.

Tolerance & Abuse Potential

Opiate drugs in general stimulate opioid cell receptor sites in the brain. These sites produce endorphin chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. Since the chemical structure of opiates closely resembles endorphin chemicals, the brain naturally treats opiates as one of its own chemicals.

Under these conditions, ongoing Oxycontin use essentially over stimulates cell receptor sites and weakens their ability to function normally. As cell sites weaken, they require higher doses of Oxycontin to produce the drug’s desired effects. According to Medline Plus, these interactions mark the beginning of a vicious cycle of abuse and eventual Oxycontin addiction.

Withdrawal Effects & Physical Dependence

Withdrawal effects and physical dependency go hand-in-hand as Oxycontin’s effects continue to weaken brain cell structures. With ongoing use, brain cells sites become unable to produce needed endorphin chemicals. As a result, the processes that depend on endorphin production start to breakdown. Meanwhile, the brain and body grow increasingly dependent on Oxycontin’s effects.

Withdrawal effects usually take the form of:

  • Irritability
  • Depression symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Lapses in consciousness
  • Body temperature fluctuations
  • Fuzzy thinking processes

Psychological Dependence

Long-term Oxycontin use causes brain chemical imbalances. These imbalances work to warp the brain’s reward system in terms of redefining what motivates and drives a person’s will. Oxycontin addiction results from the drug’s effects on the brain’s reward system.

Once a person starts to believe he or she needs the in order to cope with everyday life, an Oxycontin addiction has taken hold. In effect, Oxycontin abuse leads to physical dependency, which ultimately turns into addiction once a psychological dependency develops.