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OxyContin Addiction

years. OxyContin is, arguably, the most abused opioid in the U.S. as it’s often the drug of choice for many who are addicted to prescription opioids. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, oxycodone has been a commonly abused substance for more than 30 years, but since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin in 1995, incidences of abuse have skyrocketed.

According to a report from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “These results indicate that OxyContin abuse is a pervasive problem in this country, but it needs to be considered in the context of a general pattern of increasing prescription drug abuse.”

Here, we’ll take a look at OxyContin addiction, what it is, and how to treat it.

What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin, which is the brand name for oxycodone, is an opioid drug prescribed to treat severe pain.

The potent narcotic pain medicine, oxycodone, has been marketed in several formulations including Endocet, Oxycocet, OxyFast, Oxygesic, Percodan, Percocet, Roxicet, and Roxicodone. But, OxyContin, manufactured by Purdue Pharma, is the most widely known formulation as oxycodone is the only ingredient.

OxyContin has a time-release feature that releases the medication in the body in four- to six-hour intervals throughout the day. The manufacturers initially thought this would prevent abuse but soon realized it was rather simple to get around this mechanism and experience the full effects of the drug.

In 2010, the FDA instructed Purdue Pharma to change the formulation of the drug to make it more difficult to abuse. As a result, OxyContin is now harder to crush or dissolve. However, people can still abuse it by swallowing too much of the pill.

When used on a legitimate prescription basis, OxyContin is not illegal. However, the DEA did classify it as a Schedule II drug in the early 1960s. The immediate release formulation of OxyContin is estimated to be 1.5 times more powerful than the popular opioid morphine.

OxyContin has been considered a gateway drug. Some studies have shown that people who abuse the drug are more likely to switch to using heroin intravenously as the opioid addiction worsens and the access to prescription painkillers lessens.In the wake of the opioid crisis, CDC guidelines to limit health care providers from prescribing prescription painkillers, and the growing political pressure to reduce the supply of opioids, the DEA announced plans to reduce the amount of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the US by 25 percent or more. The 2017 quota for hydrocodone, sold under brand names like Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet, is being reduced by a third.

Common side effects of OxyContin include:

  • Confusion, severe drowsiness, seizure, feeling lightheaded
  • Dry mouth
  • Mild itching
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Severe constipation, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, 
  • Shallow breathing
  • Impotence, sexual problems

Long-term use of any opioid may affect the rates of fertility in men or women. It is unknown whether the effects of opioids on fertility are permanent.

Street names for OxyContin include OxyCotton, Kicker, OC, and Hillbilly Heroin.

What Are the Signs of OxyContin Addiction?

Addiction to any drug, illicit or prescription, often triggers physical and mental changes in users. Here are some of the key signs to watch for to help you detect OxyContin or oxycodone abuse:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness, nodding off
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Headache, lightheadedness
  • Itching
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sedation
  • Sweating

Also, respiratory failure can cause oxycodone-related overdose deaths, especially when the drug is mixed with a different substance that reduces respiration such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or another opiate.

What Is Involved in OxyContin Addiction Treatment?

The best way you or a loved one with an addiction can seek help is by entering a treatment program. The physical and mental issues brought on by the addiction must be resolved before lasting changes can be made. Recovering addicts must also learn life skills that would help them stay the course on their path to sobriety.


If you are dependent on OxyContin, stopping the medication suddenly is not advised. This is due to the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting cold turkey. Your brain has become accustomed to receiving opioids from an external source and has likely stopped producing any opioids on its own. Therefore, the pain experienced after stopping can cause you to relapse. 

The best thing to do is to enter a reputable detox facility, where a doctor will oversee your OxyContin detox and help you remain as comfortable as possible. You also may be prescribed tapered replacement medications such as Suboxone to help mitigate the withdrawal symptoms. Detox usually lasts about four to seven days.


Once detox is over, you can transition into a residential treatment program if it is decided that such a program is the right one for you. Here, you will stay at the facility 24/7 while taking part in daily therapies and modalities designed to help you target the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that fuel your OxyContin addiction. While residential programs tend to last between 30-90 days, studies show that the longer you stay in treatment, the better your chances are for lasting sobriety.


Just because you go through a treatment program, it doesn’t mean that addiction is completely out of your life. Relapse is always waiting to strike when your guard is down. To prevent relapse, it is advised to go through continuing treatment such as partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment. Here, you will still have access to the same therapies as in residential, but you will have the flexibility of living at home or in a sober living home. This will help you remain connected to the recovery community and equip you with the tools you need to stay sober for the long run.

How Dangerous Is OxyContin?

You should not use OxyContin if you allergic to oxycodone, are prone to asthma attacks, or have a blockage in your intestines or stomach.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, more than 15,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids. The most common opiates linked to prescription drug overdoses include methadone, oxycodone opioids (such as OxyContin), and hydrocodone opioids (such as Vicodin).

Pregnant women on OxyContin should be aware that their unborn babies could become dependent on the drug, which can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after birth. Also, women are strongly advised not to breastfeed while taking OxyContin, as the drug could pass through the milk and cause the nursing baby to feel drowsy or experience breathing problems. 

OxyContin Abuse Statistics

  • The Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 1 in 30 high-school seniors has admitted to abusing OxyContin at least once.
  • A 2013 study found that the street value of oxycodone was about $1 for each milligram throughout the U.S., a five-fold increase over legal prices.
  • U.S. pharmacies filled more than 53 million oxycodone prescriptions in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

The road to recovery can feel like a daunting process. If you want to learn more about your addiction without feeling overwhelmed, call our 24-hour helpline now at 844-311-5781, and one of our dedicated call representatives will walk you through the addiction treatment process. Don’t let a simple phone call prevent you from getting the help you need.


(January, 2018). Oxycontin. Retrieved September, 2018 from

(August, 2017). Prescription Opioid Data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September, 2018 from

Anson, P, (October, 2016). DEA Cutting Opioid Supply in 2017. Pain News Network. Retrieved September, 2017 from

Cicero, T, (October, 2005). Trends in abuse of Oxycontin and other opioid analgesics in the United States: 2002-2004. Pub Med. Retrieved September, 2017 from

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