OxyContin Addiction and Abuse

OxyContin is a powerful opioid painkiller. OxyContin addiction can affect life in many ways. There are resources available that can help.

Table of Contents

What is OxyContin?

OxyContin is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioid pain medications bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and alter how the body perceives and experiences pain. While OxyContin has medical use, it is a very addictive drug. The risk of addiction is greater when the drug is abused recreationally. OxyContin should be taken at the amount prescribed by a medical professional. Taking higher doses than prescribed or using it for a long period can lead to addiction.1

OxyContin vs Oxycodone

OxyContin is the brand name for the extended-release form of oxycodone. The main difference between OxyContin and oxycodone is the amount of time it takes for the body to absorb a full dose. Oxycodone is an immediate release drug, meaning smaller and more frequent doses are used to treat pain. Since OxyContin is an extended-release medication, a larger dosage can be taken and last for a longer duration.2

OxyContin vs Hydrocodone

Both OxyContin and hydrocodone are powerful opioid pain killers. The main difference between the two is that OxyContin is about 30% more powerful. Studies have shown that OxyContin is better at treating pain than hydrocodone. Since OxyContin is more powerful, it is also prone to additional side effects. Gastrointestinal problems and constipation are side effects that may occur when taking OxyContin but aren’t common with hydrocodone.3

Common Street Names

There is a problem with OxyContin being bought and sold on the streets for recreational use. Recreational use of this drug should be avoided. Common street names for OxyContin include:

  • C.
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Oxy
  • OxyCotton4

Types of OxyContin

OxyContin is generally administered to patients through extended-release tablets. OxyContin dosage in tablet form ranges from 5mg – 120mg depending on the patient and their pain treatment needs.

OxyContin IR

OxyContin IR is the immediate release version of OxyContin. Immediate-release tablets allow the body to absorb the full dose of medication quicker for immediate pain relief.

Signs and Symptoms of OxyContin Addiction

OxyContin addiction is serious, and it is important to look for signs that someone is struggling so they can receive help. Signs of OxyContin addiction may be physical or behavioral.

Physical Signs

Common physical signs of OxyContin addiction may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory problems

Behavioral Signs

Common behavioral signs of OxyContin addiction may include:

  • Crushing or chewing tablets to get a stronger high
  • Drug-seeking behavior (multiple doctors’ appointments, stealing drugs, buying drugs off the street, forging prescriptions, etc.)
  • Getting in legal trouble
  • Irrational behavior
  • Isolating from friends or family
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Poor physical appearance
  • Taking high doses of OxyContin

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs, seek out the available resources for addiction recovery.5

OxyContin Side Effects

OxyContin addiction is dangerous and can negatively affect one’s life. Many short and long-term side effects can be caused by the misuse or abuse of this drug.


Common short-term OxyContin side effects may include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Nausea


Common long-term OxyContin side effects may include:

  • Imbalances in brain chemistry
  • Reduced threshold for pain
  • Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks

Many of these OxyContin side effects are dangerous and will require proper medical attention and support for treatment.6


When someone takes large doses of OxyContin over an extended time, they will build a tolerance, meaning increasingly higher doses are needed to receive the same effects. Taking high doses of OxyContin can lead to an overdose. If someone overdoses, they must receive immediate medical attention. Common OxyContin overdose symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Severe lightheadedness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heart rate


When OxyContin is taken for a long period, both a physical and psychological dependence can be formed on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may occur when drug use ceases. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Sweating

All these symptoms can be serious, so proper treatment and support are necessary when recovering from OxyContin addiction. 7

Purdue Pharma OxyContin Scandal

Purdue Pharma is a company that faced legal trouble for the way they marketed and promoted OxyContin products. The FDA regulates how addictive drugs, such as OxyContin, are marketed to prevent people from unnecessarily taking highly addictive drugs. Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and kickback conspiracies due to a large amount of evidence found against them.8

Treatment Options

If you or someone you know is struggling with an OxyContin addiction, there are treatment options available. Speaking to a medical professional or going to a treatment center is the first step towards recovery.


Detox happens early in the recovery process. You will experience withdrawal symptoms during detox. However, a treatment center can help one through the detox process, so it is as safe and comfortable as possible.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

If you are experiencing unbearable withdrawal symptoms, medication-assisted treatment may be an option. This treatment relieves withdrawal symptoms and prevents relapse from occurring. Common medications used to treat opioid addiction include naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. All these medications have been extensively studied and have shown overall positive results when treating opioid addiction.9

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab can be a good option for treating OxyContin addiction. Inpatient treatment involves staying at a treatment center for a duration of time. Inpatient rehab provides around-the-clock medical attention, a structured support system, and therapy to develop coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of life without drugs.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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