Dangers of OxyContin
The dangers of OxyContin use are numerous, with the worst being OxyContin addiction. This prescription medication is one of the most addictive substances sold legally in the United States. It is more addictive than cocaine and second only to heroin in addictive nature among narcotics. Some professionals in the field of addiction recovery feel that this drug is so inherently addictive that it is unsafe for the general population to whom it is being marketed and prescribed.
As originally approved, OxyContin was intended to be used for end-stage cancer patients and others with severe and escalating pain. Those people for whom the dangers of OxyContin existed were balanced by the extreme circumstances of the patient. Because of its overpowering addiction rate, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency described OxyContin as a painkiller of last resort.
Even though OxyContin was originally intended to help cancer patients treat their chronic pain, more prescriptions are being written to treat moderate to severe non-cancer pain. The prescriptions for OxyContin, particularly those to treat non-cancer pain, are growing rapidly. Nearly half of the prescriptions are being written by primary care physicians, not cancer specialists.
In early 2000, reports of improper and illicit use of OxyContin surfaced. Some of these reported cases have been associated with the dangers of OxyContin, including death. OxyContin, as with any prescription narcotic, carries with it some risk of dependency and abuse. However, due to the large numbers of prescriptions being written for this drug, it is difficult to monitor the use and abuse of this medication.
The DEA recognizes the potential dangers of OxyContin. While it is approved for medical use, the DEA has classified this medication as a schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. Schedule II drugs have the highest potential for abuse of any approved drugs.
OxyContin is a powerful analgesic that has adverse effects in the central nervous system. The opioid quality of OxyContin works to relieve pain by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors which are found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. When these drugs attach to the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord they can effectively block the transmission of pain messages to the brain.
The dangers of OxyContin are compounded when other central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium), or other oxycodone or hydrocodone drugs are used at the same time. Even small doses of OxyContin with any of these combinations can cause severe central nervous depression.
Dangers of OxyContin abuse also include drug overdose. Overdose from OxyContin with or without other drugs can cause a loved one to "nod out" and become unconscious. Breathing becomes labored and patients may go into pulmonary failure and cardiac arrest. If you suspect an OxyContin overdose, it is imperative that you call emergency personnel.
Long term OxyContin abuse leads to addiction, so acute cessation of the drug causes withdrawal symptoms. If you believe your loved one is addicted, proper tapering and drug rehabilitation is needed for the physical and psychological effects that are present.