The Whats and Hows of Oxycontin
Painkillers have been around since ancient times. It comes in various forms, from simple balms that mitigate the pain, to powerful narcotics that leave people feeling numb. One of the most recognized and abused painkillers is Opium, ever since it’s discovery, people have used it time and time again. In the modern age, we managed to create purer forms, extracted more potent substances from Opium and used our technology to synthesize stronger substances. One such synthesized substance is Oxycodone, and its derivative, Oxycontin.
What is Oxycontin?
Oxytocin is a brand name for a certain formulation of Oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid synthesized from codeine, a component of opium. Codeine itself is a less potent drug than morphine, but by adding a few base chemicals, it’s synthesized into a much more potent version called Oxycodone.
Oxycodone is commonly prescribed to people with mild to severe pain issues. They are given a certain amount, to be taken at certain fixed intervals. The drug should not be taken “as-needed” to avoid addiction. Taking Oxycodone for the first time may cause dizziness, nausea and stomach cramps, but as long as the dosage is followed, the effects will disappear over the next day or two.
On average, Oxycodone’s effects last for 4 hours, depending on the person’s metabolism. Licensed physicians on average, prescribe 100 pills per month, to cover a patient’s pain issues for each day of the month. However, in some cases, to avoid an overdose, they need a method of making the effect last longer, so they created Oxycontin
Oxycontin is a brand name for an Oxycodone pill with a slow release function. The pill dissolves at a much slower rate than normal Oxycodone pills, allowing the body just enough Oxycodone to block the pain while lasting long enough to minimize the number of pills the patient has to take.
This solves two potential problems. One is the risk of overdose, the other is that the patient doesn’t have to bear with the symptoms suffered during the adjustment period. First timers may experience stomach aches and nausea due to the drug reacting too fast in their stomachs.
What Does It Look Like?
In the world of pharmaceuticals, the saying “Nothing is original” applies not just in the formulation, but on how the tablets look like. There are cases where people are sent to the ICU because they mistook liver medication for cough medication and vice versa.
There’s also the risk of obtaining fake medication. There may be many factors at play for you to get fake medicine, so it’s important to know what Oxycontin looks like. If you are not sure, it’s never a bad idea to politely challenge the pharmacy that provided the drug.
Their color and size differ in shape. Even just feeling the tablets is enough for you to find out what dosage you’re about to ingest. So it’s important to know what to expect. Finally, Oxycontin only comes in pill form.
10 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 10. Pill strength is 10 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a powdery white color. What you need to feel for is the number “10” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
15 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 15. Pill strength is 15 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a silver or gray color, a shade much darker than OC 10. What you need to feel for is the number “15” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
20 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 20. Pill strength is 10 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a pinkish or peach color. What you need to feel for is the number “20” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
30 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 30. Pill strength is 10 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a light brown or copper brown. What you need to feel for is the number “10” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
40 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 40. Pill strength is 40 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a yellow or golden yellow color. What you need to feel for is the number “40” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
60 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 60. Pill strength is 10 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a bright red or blood red color What you need to feel for is the number “60” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
80 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 80. Pill strength is 80 mg. The pill’s shape is round and convex, with a flat edge and has a green to moss green color. What you need to feel for is the number “80” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
160 MG Oxycontin
Also known as OC 160. Pill strength is 10 mg. The pill’s shape is oval and convex, with a flat edge and has a deep blue or crayon blue color. What you need to feel for is the number “10” on one side, and the letters “OC” on the other side.
What Does It Do?
As soon as you pop the pill into your mouth and swallow, the whole process starts. Your stomach acids will slowly dissolve through the protective layer that covers the pill. In about ten to fifteen minutes, the first layer gives in and exposes the structure that contains Oxycodone. Soon enough some of the already digested materials go into the small intestines to be absorbed.
At this point, you’ll feel the initial reactions, unfortunately, not that of painkilling. For first-timers, the stomach may become more acidic in reaction to the oxycodone. This is when the person will start feeling nauseous, and in some cases, vomit.
When the substance is in the small intestines, it gets absorbed by it and is directly passed into the bloodstream. There, it goes all over the body, until eventually some of it reaches the blood-brain barrier. At this instant, the drug is already taking its effects, as the substance reaches the nerves. Neurons with opioid receptors react as the opioids bind to the receptor and react by shutting down receptors responsible for transmitting pain-related neurotransmitters.
When it goes through the blood-brain barrier, it lands on the brain and the more vivid effect of the drug starts to take place. This occurs around 20 to 30 minutes after ingesting the pill.
The first that gets affected is your Limbic System. This is the part of the brain that oversees emotions, especially the basic ones that function as a reaction to your environment. Those are happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. When the substance reaches this area, the neurons with dopamine receptors, (responsible for making you feel happy and satisfied) are stimulated or excited. This leads to the sensation of euphoria and warmth, akin to having the “warm fuzzies,” just dialed up several notches.
Next, the brainstem is affected. This is responsible for a majority of your involuntary actions, such as breathing, heart rate, coughing, sneezing and so on. The opioids specifically affect the receptors that affect your breathing rhythm and depresses it. This is why most opioids make user’s breaths slower and shallower, and the main reason why people with lung issues should not take opioids.
Finally, the last affected party is the spinal cord. This long line of nerves is responsible for transmitting back pain. The opioids block the receptors that cause the neurons to transmit pain, which is why they are extremely effective analgesics, able to handle a great majority of pain-inducing conditions. This, however, does not cure the source of the pain, and if the person is suffering from nerve conditions in the spine, the opioids may not work properly or have adverse effects.
When you take Opioids repeatedly, two things will eventually happen to your body. First, the brain has a certain rule that if a part of it is not being used, the brain will shut the area down, or rewire the neurons to work on something else. An example is a blind person having an incredibly acute hearing and touch. The brain shut the optic area of the brain down, allocating most of the processing power to hearing and touch.
With this said, when you take opioids, your body doesn’t create endorphins (your own bodily opioid) anymore. This is because the brain knows that you have too much, and in order to keep your body in balance, it releases enzymes and proteins to destroy the excess opioids and stops production of more until normal levels are reached.
Now comes the deadly loop. You take in opioids in a constant manner, the brain stops the creation of endorphins. Before it can flush the rest out and start it back up, you take another pill. This puts the body back in an imbalanced state and the brain keeps the endorphin source shut down. Do this long enough, and the brain will shut it down permanently because it doesn’t need it anymore.
When you finally stop taking the medication, your body doesn’t turn it back on anymore, and you’re left with a brain that doesn’t create endorphins. This horrible condition means you can’t feel pleasure, except by taking the drug. Thankfully, doctors are very aware of this and only let you take a certain dosage, enough to block the pain but not enough to cause this condition.
Another, more horrible effect than not feeling pleasure, is a condition called Hyperalgesia. You become hypersensitive to pain. Tasks that don’t cause pain, or causes extremely tolerable pain, (like a good hourly jog) will start to feel explicitly painful.
This is the reason why a lot of addicts who are either beginning their recovery or lost their supply, are extremely miserable without the medication. They feel little to no joy, and a lot of things they do is painful.
Which is why strictly following the prescribed dosage is extremely important. When taking your oxycontin, make sure you only take it during the times your doctor tells you, (ie: one right after you wake up and one before you sleep), never chew or split the tablet and only swallow it whole, and don’t just suddenly stop medication without consulting your doctor first.
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