We have discussed it many times before; the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. It is great to see that changes are being made, even if in this instance they are limited to Ontario, Canada. The province’s drug benefit program is delisting the prescription painkiller OxyContin. The reason they are doing so is that they want to try to put a stop to the addiction epidemic of the highly addictive drug. By making it harder for patients to get and physicians to prescribe, they hope to, at the very least, start making a difference. This is the first time in history that the province decided to take such drastic measures because a drug was deemed to be ‘too addictive’.
Purdue Pharma, the company that creates OxyContin, already introduced a new formula of the drug labeled ‘OxyNEO’. The new formula is supposed to be much harder to crush, thus making it less likely that someone abuses it by snorting or injecting the drug.
Not The Only Problem
The problem however, is not just the addictive aspect of this drug; it is the fact that its’ use has become a widespread epidemic. Between 1991 and 2009 – there was a 900% increase in Oxycodone prescriptions in the province of Ontario. That number is simply astonishing. Does it mean that there was 900% more pain in Ontario or is there something else going on?
The History Of And Problem With OxyContin
Even though OxyContin was only introduced onto the market in 1995, the active ingredient (Oxycodone) was not a new product at all. In fact, it had been around for more than 60 years. The ‘new’ thing about OxyContin was how it worked. Whereas traditional painkillers required users to take pills every 2 to 3 hours, OxyContin would work upwards of a 12-hour period – delivering its active ingredients over that time. This meant that instead of having to take pills throughout the day, users could take just one pill and experience relief.
As was to be expected with a painkiller that would allow users relief; the medical community treated OxyContin as an overnight sensation. Within the first few years of the drug being released, it earned almost one billion dollars. The marketing for OxyContin practically wrote itself and the product focused on pain management. Before the marketing strategies of Purdue Pharma, this area was largely overlooked. Doctors became aware of their patient’s pain issues, and as a result, doctors decided to prescribe more pain medication – and of course, OxyContin was there to deliver relief.
Not surprising, large sales also brought mainstream attention to the drug. People throughout the nation started abusing OxyContin. Addicts in particular realized that when they inject or snort OxyContin, it would eliminate the 12-hour time release. This means that instead of the dose being released slowly as intended, the user received a powerful high, very quickly. The Drug Enforcement Agency took notice quickly as individuals that underestimated the power of OxyContin began filling up the emergency rooms. Heavy restrictions were placed on how OxyContin was marketed and actions taken against those doctors who prescribed the medication.
Using opioids to manage pain has always been a hot topic debate and has many critics worried – so what makes OxyContin special in comparison? The problem lies in the various means of availability and increasing rate of addiction in the United States. As mentioned earlier, the marketing of OxyContin was both aggressive and misleading. It also turned out to be quite simple to compromise the time-release effect.
OxyContin Rehab And Withdrawal
One of the aspects that make OxyContin such a dangerous problem is that the drug is highly addictive. Especially if someone uses OxyContin after crushing the drug, it not only becomes dangerous to use but also addictive. If someone stops taking OxyContin after prolonged or heavy use, they experience withdrawal symptoms not unlike other opiate-based drugs such as codeine, methadone, morphine, and heroin. Because the body gets used to opioids quite quickly, once someone stops taking OxyContin the body needs time to recover and adjust. This is where OxyContin rehabilitation can be beneficial for people struggling with addiction.
The withdrawal symptoms can range from relatively mild to severe. This depends on how long and how frequent someone has been taking the drug. After last using the drug, someone could expect withdrawal symptoms to begin between 6 and 30 hours of last use.
Early symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Runny nose
- Increased tearing
- Muscle aches
Later symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Goose bumps
- Dilated pupils
- Abdominal cramping
As you can make out from the symptoms, withdrawing from OxyContin can be extremely uncomfortable. Especially because complications may occur, if someone is trying to detoxify their body from OxyContin, it is a good idea to do so at a professional facility. Both diarrhea and vomiting may cause dehydration and mineral and chemical imbalances in the body. The main danger when rehabbing OxyContin for most people is the possibility of relapsing. Because someone goes through a withdrawal process, they have a reduced tolerance for the drug. This means that a dosage that was previously acceptable for them (because they had a built up tolerance) may suddenly be enough to lead to an overdose. That is the reason that most people that overdose on OxyContin are those that have recently gone through detox or withdrawal.
That is just one of the reasons why biophysical detoxification and inpatient treatment comes highly recommended when it comes to dealing with OxyContin. During that treatment, you not only get the best opportunity to start clean (meaning the harmful particles are cleansed from your system) but you also have the knowledge that someone is close by should you need them.