The Risks Of OxyContin Use

After decades of an Opioid epidemic, it’s clear that a prescription to an Opioid like OxyContin has consequences. From immediate physical side effects of the prescription, to far reaching physical determinants caused by use and dependency, OxyContin is responsible for a wide range of health problems.

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Risks Of OxyContin Prescription

As one of the most popularly prescribed Opioids of all time, it’s important to keep in mind the consequences associated with this medication. The most obvious risks are the side-effects from taking the medicine responsibly. The following effects are all possible when taking OxyContin as prescribed.

Side Effects Of The Prescription

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Headache

Serious Side Effects And Overdose Signs

  • Respiratory depression (slow and ineffective breathing)
  • Apnea (stopped breathing)
  • Circulatory depression (reduced blood flow)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Death

Behavioral Risks Of OxyContin

Regardless of its status as a prescription drug, OxyContin remains extremely addictive. Often prescribed for pain management, the drug can form physical and psychological dependencies quickly. People dealing with long lasting chronic pain begin relying on OxyContin to manage symptoms and to have a better quality of life may find it extremely difficult to function without it. As the body builds a tolerance and reliance on the drug, progressively problematic behaviors begin in order to get more and feel “normal.”

Prescription Drug Seeking

OxyContin, like many Opioids, can lead to powerful dependencies. Once a dependency forms, people will go through extreme lengths to get more. People secretly struggling with an Opioid use disorder may go to their doctor and make up a reason to ascertain a prescription for a drug like OxyContin. Doctors and pharmacists must walk a fine line because they want to avoid acting like a legal drug dealer, but if they become overly skeptical, someone in need of pain relief may go without the medicine that improves their quality of life. In severe cases, some people caught up in the grip of Opioid addiction can resort to serious self-harm in order to receive another prescription.

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Illegal Drug Seeking

As doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals improve in identifying and stopping OxyContin seeking tendencies, people are forced into illegal means to sustain their Opioid use disorder. They may try to convince loved ones to hand over any Opioids they’ve been prescribed if they still have them. Communities where this behavior is common hold Opioid buybacks to limit the supply of prescriptions floating around unaccounted for. As people run out of prescription-type Opioids like OxyContin, many turn to street drug alternatives.

Opiates like Heroin and more often Fentanyl serve as even more dangerous alternatives for prescription Opioids. Drug dealers usually favor illegal opiates because they’re less expensive to obtain, affording them a larger profit margin when selling to people. The current iteration of the Opioid epidemic is fueled by the cheap, concentrated drug fentanyl. Once hooked on Opioids through a prescription, you may find yourself in a position where you feel a need to get ahold of any kind of opiate you can find. Desperation like this can lead to dire consequences from jail time to overdose.

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Related Mortality Risks Of OxyContin

Opioids create an extremely relaxed feeling in the body, and one of the side effects listed above is dizziness and reduction in coordination. These risks are particularly dangerous for older people prone to fall injuries. The rampant prescribing of Opioids over the past 20 years has led to a studied increase in the number of seniors who have accidental overdoses and incur falling injuries causing potential fatalities. Opioids also pose a threat to people driving on the road with their sedative effects.

OxyContin depresses the nervous systems causing a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. When a person uses more Oxycontin than the body can manage, overdose is imminent and also potentially fatal as the person eventually stops breathing and the heart slows down to a halt.

Mental Health Impacts

The overdose risks, drug seeking behaviors, and other changes in someone’s life all fall under the mental health disorder of addiction. Although OxyContin was marketed as a safer Opioid when released in 1996, it’s still linked to serious health risks, including Opioid use disorder. The manufacturer Purdue Pharmaceuticals even lost a case and had to settle based on their false low risk advertising strategy. Opioids can also influence other mental health issues like mood disorders.

Anxiety and depression are both considered mood disorders. Symptoms related to these mood disorders can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life. Even if you don’t currently experience symptoms of a mood disorder, a study found that 10% of people prescribed Opioids reported the development of a depressive disorder.

Take Precautions When Prescribed OxyContin

Opioids are powerful drugs intended to treat serious afflictions. Chronic pain changes the way people live their lives and a prescription to a drug like OxyContin can give them a more normal life. The issue is that in the past 20+ years, OxyContin has been over-prescribed and over-sold as a low risk Opioid. The risks of OxyContin were downplayed as much as possible in order for the new drug to play well on the market.

When people receive these prescriptions for issues where a less potent medication would be effective, it exposes an individual to the risks previously mentioned. It’s unfortunate that such a useful medication can damage so many parts of someone’s life, but it’s true. Taking the correct precautions to completely avoid any injury causing an Opioid prescription is ideal, but if you need an OxyContin prescription, be sure to work with your doctor on best practices for healthy medicine habits.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you have developed a dependence on prescription or illegal Opioids, know that there is hope and help available. Contact a treatment provider for rehab-related help.



Michael Muldoon

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  • Michael Muldoon earned a B.A. in Media Studies from Penn State University, but instead of shifting into an academic career in social science, he has decided to put his skills to work in the pursuit of helping those struggling with addiction. He enjoys spending his free time at the climbing gym with friends.

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Dayna Smith-Slade

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  • Dayna Smith Slade is the President and CEO of Substance Abuse Solutions, L.L.C., a unique and innovative substance abuse consulting firm based in Northern Virginia. Her Small, Women, and Minority owned (SWaM) firm is committed to increasing drug and alcohol awareness in the community and decreasing the prevalence and debilitating impact of substance abuse. Dayna is a seasoned counselor with experience in a variety of therapeutic milieus. She is a dynamic public speaker that has been the featured trainer at national conferences and the featured guest on local television and radio talk shows.

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