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For nearly 200 years, pharmaceutical companies have been searching for a non-addictive painkiller derived from the opium poppy.
With the rise of opium abuse at the turn of the 19th Century, a German pharmacist extracted morphine from opium as a non-addictive analgesic and cure for opium abuse. But when morphine was also found to be extremely addictive in the mid-1800's, Bayer, in their quest to develop a less addictive alternative to morphine created heroin. What they didn't realize was that heroin was much more potent and addictive than morphine.
When heroin was pulled from the market in the early 1900's, a group of German scientists developed Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid derived from the poppy plant that they hoped would be less addictive and would form the basis of many painkillers.
For years, pharmaceutical companies developed drugs, such as Percodan and Percocet, that mixed a smaller dosage of Oxycodone with larger doses of milder painkillers like aspirin or acetaminophen, but in 1996, Purdue Pharma released OxyContin. Although this drug contained a much higher concentration of Oxycodone than previous painkillers, the FDA approved it because the pill was designed to slowly release the drug over an extended period of time.
Unfortunately, users soon found a way to break the slow release feature by crushing the pill and snorting or injecting it to obtain a high.
By 2010, OxyContin was the second most abused prescription drug in the nation, causing Purdue Pharma to reformulate OxyContin to make it crush and injection-resistant. While this new version has caused deliberate misuse of Oxycontin to decrease, there is a strong correlation to the current rise in Heroin abuse. Many believe that former Oxycontin abusers have abandoned the abuse-resistant pill for a cheaper, easier fix from Heroin.
Despite the attempts to make OxyContin safer, it remains a potentially addictive drug, even for people who are using it legitimately. Why is this?
Oxycodone numbs pain by mimicking your body's natural endorphins. The longer you take opioids, the less endorphins your body produces naturally. This is why you feel depressed when you quit using. You end up needing more pills just to feel normal.
Although Oxycodone creates a feeling of drowsiness, relief from pain, relaxation, sedation, lowered inhibitions, and euphoria, users may experience negative side effects.
You don't have to be a pill junkie to be affected by OxyContin. Maybe you've been really careful with your prescribed dosage, but you—or your family and friends have noticed that you've been acting really different lately. It's not like you're going far beyond your dosage, but moodiness, fatigue, and anxiety may point to opioid dependence.
And opioid dependence includes the risk of overdose.
Because you get such a high concentration of opioids, it is much easier to overdose on OxyContin than other painkillers.
When you overdose, Oxycontin slows down your central nervous system, forcing your heart rate and breathing to slow, which can induce a state of coma or death.
And if you mix alcohol with Oxycontin, you increase the risk of overdose exponentially.
Oxycontin abuse and addiction does not disappear on its own. Because withdrawing from an opioid like Oxycontin is extremely painful, it is not recommended that you detox on your own.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Oxycontin use, seek help today.