Oxycontin addiction is a physical dependence that is unavoidable when an individual is exposed to high doses of the drug for a extended period of time. The body then adapts and develops a tolerance for Oxycontin. The addiction is so powerful that it produces cravings. These cravings for Oxycontin are the result of its impact on the individual's memory with feelings of pleasantness and euphoria which the individual has come to associate with the taking of Oxycontin. The subconscious memory then motivates the individual to seek this drug because of its false imprint of Oxycontin.
The active ingredient is a 12-hour, time-released form of oxycodone, a synthetic form of morphine that is found in common painkillers like Percodan and Percocet. Jim Heins, a spokesperson for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, said OxyContin has larger amounts of oxycodone than Percodan or Percocet, in some cases more than 10 times as much.
Oxycontin is designed to be swallowed whole; however, those who have an addiction to Oxycontin ingest the drug in a variety of ways. Oxycontin abusers often chew the tablets or crush the tablets and snort the powder. Because oxycodone is water soluble, crushed tablets can be dissolved in water and the solution injected. The latter two methods lead to the rapid release and absorption of oxycodone.
Oxycontin, like other addictive prescription drugs is able to short-circuit your survival system. It artificially stimulates the reward center, or pleasure areas in your brain, without anything beneficial happening to your body. As this happens, it leads to increased confidence in Oxycontin, and less confidence in the normal rewards of life.
In addition to the psychological addiction of Oxycontin there is also a physical addiction. Overtime the individual no longer experiences the same feeling of euphoria they once did but still continue to use because the pain that they suffer is far to great with out it. Individuals addicted to Oxycontin suffer: cold sweats, diarrhea, insomnia, muscle pain / bone pain, restlessness, involuntary leg movement, vomiting, nausea and severe stomach cramps without Oxycontin in their system.
Once the individual is addicted their interests decrease in other aspects of their life as they increase their reliance on Oxycontin. People, places and activities or lifestyles that that worked through their normal reward system, before using Oxycontin become less important. Overtime individuals heavily addicted to Oxycontin will begin to resent people, places, and activities that do not fit with their drug abusing lifestyle.
Its diversion and abuse is currently a major problem, especially in the eastern United States. Because of its pharmaceutical effects, OxyContin is a suitable substitute for heroin and is, therefore, an attractive drug for the heroin abuser population. Because it is a prescriptive substance, many health insurance policies will cover its cost. When health insurance will no longer pay for OxyContin, the lower priced street heroin may then be an attractive alternative with devastating effects.
Individuals with an addiction to Oxycontin obtain the drug in a variety of ways including pharmacy diversion, "Doctor Shopping" and improper prescribing practices by physicians. Pharmacy diversion occurs when the pharmacy staff takes the Oxycontin directly from the shelves, or when people make fraudulent prescriptions.
The most widely used diversion technique of those with an addiction to Oxycontin at the street level is doctor shopping. Individuals who may or may not have a legitimate ailment requiring a doctors prescription for controlled substances, visit numerous doctors, sometimes in several states, to acquire large amounts of Oxycontin which they abuse or sell to others who share their addiction.
Another way Oxycontin is obtained is through improper prescribing practices by unscrupulous physicians. According to law enforcement sources survey by the NDIC the abuse of Oxycontin, as with the abuse of most prescription drugs, creates a cycle of health care fraud. For example, a corrupt physician writes an addicted patient a prescription for Oxycontin for a nonexistent injury. The physician bills the insurance company for that, and subsequent, visits. The patient uses a portion of the Oxycontin and sells the rest for a substantial profit. Oxycontin addiction has led to an increased number of pharmacy robberies, thefts, shoplifting incidents, and health care fraud incidents.