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Oxycontin Addiction

Oxycontin addiction is a result of prolonged or improper prescription of this medication.  Oxycontin is a slow release form of the drug, Oxycodone.  The name, Oxycontin, stands for Oxycodone Continuous release. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine and used as a pain medication.   It is also a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States as it is related to morphine and codeine.   In fact, the likelihood of developing an oxycontin addiction is similar to that of developing a morphine addiction.

Oxycontin has the same mechanism of action as other opioids.  Described simply, the drug binds to a specific receptor, inhibits specific chemical messengers and causes decreased excitability of neurons.  Altogether, this limits the body’s ability to transmit pain.  Therefore, Oxycontin is used in chronic or severe pain management. 

Oxycontin Addiction
Oxycontin Addiction

When properly prescribed to control chronic pain, Oxycontin addiction is rare.  With proper prescription and administration, stable blood levels of the drug occur after approximately 12 hours. Improper prescription or infrequent dosing permits blood levels to fluctuate and can lead to Oxycontin addiction.  Levels must be monitored by a healthcare professional and adjusted accordingly.  Recreational use makes the user more susceptible to Oxycontin addiction there is always a pleasant ‘rush’ upon dosing because the plasma level never stabilize.

Side effects of OxyContin are typical of all opioid side effects.   The most frequently observed side effects are constipation, nausea, sleepiness, vomiting, itching, and dry mouth.   Oxycontin causes somewhat less side effects than morphine.

Oxycontin addiction arises from activation of the body’s natural reward system, the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway found in the brain.  This pathway increases activity when activated by oxycontin which results in an overall sense of euphoria, contentment and well-being.  Activation of this pathway is the cause of Oxycontin addiction rather than from a subjective appreciation of the diverse other effects (such as alertness or disinhibition) that the drug produce.