OxyContin is a long-acting pain reliever prescribed to patients who deal with chronic and severe pain.
When taken as prescribed, it can help to mitigate the experience of pain in patients who would otherwise be immobilized. When abused, however, it can lead to a range of health problems, including addiction, overdose and death.
OxyContin is an opiate, and though it is prescribed by a doctor, it is not safe to use the drug without a prescription or outside the bounds of a prescription. If your loved one is struggling with OxyContin abuse and cannot stop the behavior on his own, treatment is necessary. Contact us today for more information about the kind of treatment that will best serve your family member’s needs.
One of the most serious risks that can occur with each and every abuse of OxyContin is an overdose. Too much OxyContin, or OxyContin in combination with other illicit substances (e.g., alcohol, other opiate painkillers, benzodiazepines, etc.), can overwhelm the system, slowing the respiratory system and heart rate until they stop.
Signs of an OxyContin overdose include:
- Clammy skin
- Blue tint to skin, nails and lips
- Slowed or stopped heart beat
- Slowed, labored, or stopped breathing
- Non-responsiveness if unconscious
- Incoherent and confused if conscious
If you believe that someone you care about has taken too much OxyContin and overdosed, contact 911 immediately for emergency medical assistance.
Accident Under the Influence
The risk of driving while under the influence of alcohol is well-known, but lesser known is the fact that driving while under the influence of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers can be just as deadly. Someone who is taking OxyContin may be overly fatigued, slow to react and slower in their thought processes as compared to when they are not taking the drug. This means that their capabilities behind the wheel are impaired, putting them at risk of an accident that may be deadly to them or others on the road.
Similarly, being under the influence of OxyContin can cause people to make careless mistakes that cause themselves harm or brings harm to others: burns, accidental shootings, drownings and falls may be the consequence of abusing OxyContin.
One of the primary long-term health risks associated with OxyContin abuse is the potential for the development of an addiction. Dependence upon the drug is commonplace and often happens among patients who take the drug as prescribed by their doctor for pain. Defined by the development of a tolerance to the medication which in turn triggers a need for higher and higher doses in order to successfully manage pain, dependence can be safely and easily managed by a doctor.
Physical dependence is not the same thing as addiction. Addiction is characterized by physical dependence in addition to psychological dependence. Cravings and compulsive use of OxyContin as well as an inability to stop using the drug despite negative consequences mean that treatment is the best solution.
Help Is Available
OxyContin is one of the most commonly abused opiate drugs available for prescription in the United States today. Though use of the drug usually starts small, according to the Journal of Addictive Diseases (e.g., small doses that get larger, swallowing pills before later crushing them and snorting or injecting them), the progressive nature of the disorder means that family members who identify the problem in their loved ones early may be able to connect them with treatment before it is too late. If someone you care about is abusing OxyContin, get them the help they need today. Call now.
Further Reading About Health Risks of OxyContin Abuse
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.