What is OxyContin?

Strategies for effective parenting PDFOxyContin (“Oxy” or “OC” on the street) is a time-released pain medication. It was developed in 1995 for people needing around-the-clock pain relief, so they don’t have to take pills as often. OxyContin contains oxycodone, which is an opioid drug, like morphine, codeine, heroin and methadone.

Oxycodone is the same opioid that’s in Percocet, Oxycocet and Endocet.

What will taking OxyContin do?

When taken as prescribed, OxyContin is safe, but when it is taken in other ways, it can be very dangerous.

The problems start when people looking for a “rush” get around OxyContin’s slow release of oxycodone by crushing or chewing the pill. When OxyContin is crushed or chewed, all the oxycodone is released at once, as happens with Percocet. But with OxyContin, there is much more oxycodone, and no acetaminophen to make you sick if you take a lot.

When you take OxyContin without a prescription or not as prescribed, you could:

Do You Know... Opioids

Street names: junk, H, horse, smack, shit, skag (for heroin); M, morph, Miss Emma (for morphine); meth (for methadone); percs (for Percodan®, Percocet®); juice (for Dilaudid®)

What are they?

Opioids are a family of drugs that have morphine-like effects. Their primary medical use is to relieve pain. Other medical uses include control of coughs and diarrhea, and the treatment of addiction to other opioids. Opioids can also produce euphoria, making them prone to abuse.

Federal laws regulate the possession and distribution of all opioids. Penalties for the illicit possession and distribution of opioids range from fines to life imprisonment.

Who uses opioids?

Doctors and dentists prescribe opioids to people with acute or chronic pain resulting from disease, surgery or injury. Opioids are also prescribed to people with moderate to severe coughs and diarrhea. Opioids such as methadone and buprenorphine are used to treat addiction to other opioids, such as heroin.

Because of the risk of abuse, opioids are prescribed cautiously for chronic pain. However, opioids are of particular value in controlling pain in the later stages of terminal illness, when the possibility of physical dependence is not significant.

Sometimes people who are prescribed opioids use them inappropriately. One warning sign is the early renewal of prescriptions. People who abuse opioids sometimes "double doctor," an illegal practice of filling an opioid prescription from more than one doctor, without letting the others know. These drugs are also stolen from pharmacies, and sold on the street.

Health professionals with access to prescription drugs are also at risk of opioid abuse. Some become dependent.

What are the long-term effects of taking opioids?

Long-term use of opioids can cause mood instability, constricted pupils (impaired night vision), constipation, decreased libido and menstrual irregularities. Addiction to opioids can have devastating long-term social, financial and emotional effects.

Other helpful links:

Health Canada: Fact Sheet - Misuse and Abuse of Oxycodone-based Prescription Drugs

Opioid Advice: Detection and Management of Acute Opioid Intoxication

Opioid Advice: Detection and Management of Acute Opioid Withdrawal in Non-Pregnant Patients Prescribed Opioids for Chronic Pain

Opioid Advice: Management of Opioid Dependence in Pregnancy and of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

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Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

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