OxyContin was approved by the FDA in 1995 as a treatment for pain. It is a narcotic that has a high risk of dependency. Since it came into use, there has been a steady increase of addiction and abuse associated with its illegal, non-medical use. Its side effects and treatment options are similar to those of other narcotics.
The most common and dangerous effect of OxyContin abuse is addiction. This habit-forming drug has a decreased effect over time, causing users to need more and more to maintain the same level of euphoria and good feeling. This can lead to unconventional methods of consumption, such as taking it intravenously instead of in pill form, which can lead to overdose. People who have exhausted their medical supply may also take extreme and illegal measures to obtain the drug.
Other side effects associated with OxyContin abuse include breathing difficulty and changes in mood or behavior. OxyContin can cause a build-up of fluid in the brain that puts pressure on the tissues. This can affect mental function and cause confusion, dizziness, seizures, and loss of muscle control. Trouble with movement, balance and coordination can also occur.
OxyContin abuse can be hard to recognize in loved ones, but knowing the warning signs can help. Many of the warning signs appear in the form of a change in attitude and behavior and can include :
- Diminished energy
- Constricted pupils
- General weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tendency to sleep frequently and at unusual times
- Clammy and cold skin
- Slowed breathing (to the point that the person may stop breathing altogether)
When a person who is addicted to OxyContin has trouble obtaining the drug, they may begin to show signs of withdrawal, including:
- Excessive itching
- Being happy for several hours then nodding off
- Sweating profusely
- Slurred speech
- Bone aches
- Distant look
People often begin using OxyContin to treat pain associated with a health problem or surgery and do not intend to abuse it. However, the strong addictive nature of the drug can influence even the best intentions. If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these warning signs in conjunction with OxyContin use, you should seek treatment immediately from a licensed counselor or drug rehabilitation center. Treating those suffering from a dependency on OxyContin before the problem worsens is imperative to maintaining good physical, mental, and social health.