Understanding OxyContin Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

opiate Addicted Young Man Gets Therapy

Opiate Treatment Has Radically Improved in Recent Years

Facts About OxyContin

  • OxyContin’s active ingredient is oxycodone (and other drugs contain this, like Oxecta and Roxicodone)2
  • Oxycodone is a synthetic opiate, like heroin
  • Most people start out taking OxyContin for legitimate moderate to severe pain
  • Some people may crush the OxyContin and snort it as a powder, while others may dilute it in water and shoot it through a needle
  • Over 13 million adults in the U.S. have used oxycodone in ways not intended by their physician, according to the Department of Justice
  • Many people start abusing Oxycontin because of the euphoria they experience after they take the drug

Oxycontin users often start out taking the drug for legitimate pain purposes, but often users find themselves dependent on it. Oxycontin is intended to provide long-lasting pain relief for acute or chronic conditions. Often it comes in the form of a time-release pill.

Oxycontin is Also Called:

  • Oxys
  • OCs
  • Cotton (As in “Oxycotton”)
  • Roxicodone or Oxecta (other other brand names)
  • Os
  • Oxys

Symptoms/Signs of OxyContin Abuse

A person who is under the influence of OxyContin will experience certain side effects that are common among opiate users. They may feel lethargic, “heavy” or sleepy and nod off easily. Their body may appear heavy and they may  fall asleep in awkward positions – like a rag doll.  A person who is under the influence may have narrow pupils and shallow breathing. The user may act confused, incoherent, or “out of it” if you talk to them.

Many opiate users get sick (vomit) as the pill takes effect. Users will often have multiple prescriptions for the same drug or take the pills even when they are not in pain.

Difficulty Coping Without the Drug

We always like to tell the loved ones who are suspicious of drug abuse to pay close attention to the symptoms that appear when the person is supervised and unable to take the drug.  A person who is abusing OxyContin may become anxious or agitated as they “come down” from the high.  They may become irritable and try to subconsciously create opportunities (fights) so they can isolate and use the drug.

Dangers of Long-Term OxyContin Abuse

One of the greatest dangers to the chronic OxyContin user is the danger of overdose. Overdoses can result in a coma that the user can’t come out of or brain damage that is irreversible, as well as death.

OxyContin, and opiates in all their forms, are highly addictive substances that a user can become physically and psychologically dependent on. When an opiate user develops tolerance, it takes increasing quantities of the drug to get “high.” Long-term users can also experience many different health problems from their drug use. Many will develop chronic constipation problems or other gastrointestinal issues. They may develop cardiovascular problems or respiratory issues.1 Men may develop problems with testosterone or their prostate.

The OxyContin Connection to Heroin

Of course one of the main dangers of OxyContin abuse is the common transition to other drugs  – specifically heroin.  While this might seem a shocking leap, even to the person who is abusing OxyContin, the fact is that withdrawals from opiates can be so difficult to cope with, the individuals standards of safety and judgement are radically compromised in order to seek immediate relief.

Signs and Symptoms of OxyContin Dependency/Addiction

As a chronic user develops a tolerance to OxyContin, they require more and more of it to get the feeling of euphoria they crave. Because of this, some users may seek out OxyContin on the black market when they cannot get a doctor to prescribe the dose they want. Others may go to multiple doctors seeking to get duplicate prescriptions. A person who is addicted to OxyContin may feel like they need to have the drug to feel normal.

As the addiction progresses, they typically exhibit increasing drug-seeking behavior. They may keep stashes of the drug in hiding places throughout the house, and crush or split pills.

People addicted to opiates experience significant problems in their relationships. As the drug takes more and more of their time, they withdraw from the world and focus on using OxyContin. They may develop financial problems or steal to get more supplies of the drug.

When a long-term OxyContin user tries to quit “cold turkey” (ie completely stop immediately), they experience intense withdrawal symptoms. Some people may develop a fever or have seizures. Other people may experience muscle or bone pains, chills, sweating, or insomnia. Some people will develop a rash, or throw up as their body detoxes. In addition to this, a person withdrawing from OxyContin can experience a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or rage.

Because of these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, addiction professionals recommend that detoxing or “tapering down” is supervised in a clinical environment. A detox center can monitor users for adverse events and help make them as comfortable as possible while they wait for the chemicals to leave their bodies.

How to Get Help for an OxyContin Addiction

Many people have been able to reclaim their lives from the grip of a painful opiate addiction with the help of a therapeutic environment and trained professionals. You can break free from the pain of addiction and find a new lease on life. We’re here to help you!

If you’re ready to stop using OxyContin for good, then it’s time to take action. Give us a phone call and ask us any questions you may have. It’s 100% confidential! We look forward to hearing from you.


1.Oxycontin HCl Label, available here.
2.Acura Pharmaceuticals Provides Update on Opioid Product Licensed to Pfizer, available here.