FAQ: OxyContin

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FAQ: OxyContin

Chronic Pain
FAQ: OxyContin
FAQ: OxyContin
Why does this pain medication grip so many drug abusers?
InteliHealth Medical Content

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

FAQ: OxyContin


What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin is the brand name for a particular formulation of the prescription pain drug oxycodone (ock-see-KOH-done) hydrochloride. OxyContin tablets are controlled-release, which means the drug dispenses its relief in a continuous manner for up to 12 hours. OxyContin is used to treat moderate to severe pain and is valuable for use in people with chronic pain or pain from cancer.

Do Other Drugs Contain Oxycodone?

Many pain-relieving drugs contain oxycodone. Percocet, for example, is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. (Acetaminophen is found in some over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol.) Percodan, another painkiller, is made of oxycodone and aspirin.

How Is OxyContin Different From These Other Drugs?

OxyContin is plain oxycodone containing anywhere from two to 32 times the amount of oxycodone found in Percocet or Percodan. For people with chronic pain or pain related to cancer, OxyContin is one of a few drugs that can provide many hours without break-through pain. The others include MS-Contin (long-acting morphine sulfate), methadone, and transdermal fentanyl (Duragesic patch).

How Does OxyContin Work To Relieve Pain?

OxyContin tablets are designed to be swallowed whole. They should never be cut in pieces or chewed. The tablet is designed so that the dose of oxycodone is slowly absorbed in the intestines to provide a steady, pain-relieving level in the bloodstream.

Why Is There So Much Concern About OxyContin?

OxyContin tablets easily can be crushed and abused to create a narcotic "high." Once the tablet's cover is broken, the contents then become short-acting and can be ingested for rapid absorption in the intestines, snorted, or mixed with fluid and injected with a needle directly in to the blood. As with any potent narcotic taken in a high dose, the consequences can be deadly.


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Last updated September 11, 2011

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