Why is OxyContin so Addictive?

Why is OxyContin so Addictive

OxyContin has long been a substance that has been looked at as “safe” since it is a prescribed medication, however, many that struggle with addiction and those who love them now know all too well the highly addictive properties of this pill. In recent years, the opioid epidemic in the U.S. has steadily gotten worse, with more than 2 million Americans hooked on prescription painkillers. OxyContin is one of the most addictive and dangerous prescription painkillers on the market, and many people have fallen victim to drug abuse as a result. The question is, why is OxyContin so addictive?

What Exactly is OxyContin and Why is it so Addictive?

OxyContin is a pain-relieving drug that can be naturally derived from poppy flowers or made in a lab. The way this drug works is be affecting certain areas in the brain called opioid receptors, which carry messages of pleasure to the brain. When the receptors are doing their job, their telegraph is “the pain doesn’t exist so you can relax now.” Who wants to be in pain? More realistically, who doesn’t want to feel pleasure almost all the time? Due to what this drug can simulate, you can imagine just how addictive it is to anyone who is pulled into the cycle of pain pill use, then abuse.

To give you an idea of how extensive this problem is, 2% of Americans have reported to be addicted to painkillers, but this also means 44% of the population knows at least one person addicted to prescription painkillers.

Did you know that pain killer overdose is the leading cause of accidental death?! As recently as 2015, this epidemic of opioid painkiller deaths claimed the lives of 20,101 people, just in the United States.

OxyContin Properties

Food for thought…. This is what each recipient is given with their prescription of OxyContin:


Addiction, Abuse, and Misuse

OXYCONTIN exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess each patient’s risk prior to prescribing OXYCONTIN and monitor all patients regularly for the development of these behaviors or conditions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Life-Threatening Respiratory Depression

Serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression may occur with use of OXYCONTIN. Monitor for respiratory depression, especially during initiation of OXYCONTIN or following a dose increase. Instruct patients to swallow OXYCONTIN tablets whole; crushing, chewing, or dissolving OXYCONTIN tablets can cause rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of oxycodone[see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Accidental Ingestion

Accidental ingestion of even one dose of OXYCONTIN, especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of oxycodone [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

Prolonged use of OXYCONTIN during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated, and requires management according to protocols developed by neonatology experts. If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Cytochrome P450 3A4 Interaction

The concomitant use of OXYCONTIN with all cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibitors may result in an increase in oxycodone plasma concentrations, which could increase or prolong adverse drug effects and may cause potentially fatal respiratory depression. In addition, discontinuation of a concomitantly used cytochrome P450 3A4 inducer may result in an increase in oxycodone plasma concentration. Monitor patients receiving OXYCONTIN and any CYP3A4 inhibitor or inducer [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Unfortunately, warnings and rules are often ignored by the desperate consumer who is at a stage of pain they want to relieve right away or by someone too far in their addiction to be concerned about their health at this point.

Who is Most at Risk for OxyContin Abuse and Addiction?

Is it possible for a first time patient to become addicted? Of course; however, the groups of people more likely to struggle with managing the proper use of OxyContin are people with prior to current addiction issues, as well as those diagnosed with mental illness.

Addicts who have sustained damage to their pleasure-making receptors, have difficulty experiencing feelings of happiness and contentment. As previously stated, OxyContin substitutes the work their brain would otherwise do on it’s own if it was fully healed and properly functioning the way it did pre-addiction.

In a similar way, those with mood disorders have a naturally lower chemical make-up, providing them with good-feeling emotions, and once they experience this “high” from a prescription pain reliever like OxyContin, they find it difficult to go back to a state of depression or anxiety.

Signs of OxyContin Addiction

Some of the signs you have formed an addiction to OxyContin include: 

  1.  You’ve started to use it more than prescribed
  2.  The intended effects of the medication have lessoned
  3.  When you try to stop using it you experience withdrawal symptoms.

Typical withdrawal symptoms from this particular drug could be the return of pain, high cravings to have it again in order to get “high” and strong feelings of depression. It doesn’t stop there though.

Other side affects after extended period of use include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • red eyes
  • flushing
  • sweating
  • mood changes
  • feeling lightheaded
  • dry mouth
  • itchy skin
  • weakness
  • loss of appetite

These same symptoms will also appear in the withdrawal stage, so either way their appear to be very serious physical consequences to the abuse of OxyContin.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

If you or a loved one are struggling with OxyContin abuse, please know that it is dangerous to try to stop use, at a certain level, without professional help. To experience some of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including weakness, irritability, insomnia, chills, muscle aches, anxiety, and depression, to just name a few, alone in your home is nothing to take lightly.

There is no need to suffer in silence. At Get Treatment, we can help you find OxyContin addiction treatment programs to help address the underlying causes of addiction, and teach new and healthier ways to cope with triggers and temptation. To get started on your journey to lasting recovery, call 855-638-9268 and speak to a caring admissions professional.

Erica Loret de Mola


Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.


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