- Is Oxycodone the Same as Oxycontin?
- About Narcotics
- What Does the Drug Do to You?
- How Addictive is It?
- Can It be Crushed?
- How Long Does It Stay In Your Blood?
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Oxycontin is a commonly prescribed painkiller to patients suffering from constant, chronic pain. It’s a narcotic that’s part of the opioid family, a set of drugs that were synthesized from the base parts of Opium. Their effect varies but mostly, their main effect is to relieve people of pain.
Is Oxycodone the Same as Oxycontin?
Yes. The main ingredient in Oxycontin is Oxycodone, which is also it’s only active ingredient. Oxycodone is an opioid that was synthesized from Thebaine, a weak alkaloid in Opium. Oxycodone is more powerful than morphine, but also has higher risks of abuse.
They also test the same. Oxycodone tests for Oxycontin users will come up positive. In these cases, what doctors watch out for is the concentrations or the amount that’s still in your system. If you have more Oxycontin in your system in relation to your prescription and what time you took your meds. If they detect a concentration that’s higher than what’s prescribed, they might revoke your prescriptions.
The effect of Oxycodone tablets and Oxycontin will differ depending on the dosage. Gram for gram though, Pure Oxycodone is stronger than Oxycontin due to Oxycontin’s other attribute. Oxycontin is Oxycodone placed inside a special slow-release/extended-release tablet. The tablet dissolves slowly in your stomach, releasing the Oxycodone bit by bit into your system. This means Oxycodone works faster, giving a better effect than Oxycontin.
This, however, is where the fault lies. People who suffer from constant, chronic pain all day, will have to take multiple capsules of oxycodone to cover their functional hours. Oxycodone tablet lasts around 4-6 hours, which means a person as to take 2-4 tablets a day, potentially causing overdose, liver toxicity, and accelerates dependence.
Oxycontin’s formulation lasts 12 hours. A person needs to take only 1-2 capsules a day, minimizing the risk of overdose. If the effect is not enough to completely negate the pain, doctors will usually increase the concentration to meet their patient’s pain-relief needs.
When we say narcotics these days, more often than not, people would think of illegal drugs or drug used by addicts and criminals. In some cases, other non-narcotic substances such as cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana are pooled together with the term.
Narcotics is a term derived from the ancient Greek word that means “To make numb.” This accurately describes what Narcotics do, which is to relieve pain by stopping your brain and spine from sending and to receive pain signals from your nerves.
Oxycontin is a narcotic by definition. However, it’s also a controlled drug. Possession and usage of Oxycontin without a prescription, or more than what’s prescribed, can be penalized by the law. This means you can’t buy more than what’s prescribed, only you can use what you buy, and taking more of it, (if proven by proper blood tests,) can have your prescription revoked.
What Does the Drug Do to You?
Oxycontin contains Oxycodone, an opioid synthesized from thebaine, a mildly psychoactive chemical found in Opium. They have painkilling and euphoric effects, both of which as factors in addiction.
To understand their effect in the body, we must introduce the brain’s chemical messenger, the neurotransmitters. There are several kinds, but their purpose is to make the brain receive and send certain signals. Our brain is composed of cells called neurons. These cells are composed of two parts: the sending parts called the axon, and the receiving parts called Dendrites.
These dendrites are branch-like structures whose tips contain receptors. These receptors are what receives messages from another neuron’s axon. They communicate by sending over neurotransmitters. The axon releases stored neurotransmitters inside it, and the receptors of the other neuron receive it and react accordingly. For example, you touched the tip of a needle, your skin cells will send a signal to your nerves. The neurons of the nerves send pain-related neurotransmitters at breakneck speed towards your spinal cord and brain. These two get the message and bring a pain signal back, that’s when you feel the pain. This happens in milliseconds.
Now, among the many neurotransmitters you have, there are two that are affected by Oxycontin. The first one is Endorphin. Short for “Endogenous Morphine,” this is your body’s natural painkiller. When you are in pain, angry, or excited, this chemical is what suppresses the other neurotransmitters from being released, effectively blocking the pain or calming you down.
The second one is Dopamine, known as the ‘reward chemical’. When you do something that’s good for you, or at least, what the brain considers as “good”, it will trigger the release of dopamine. Examples of what the body thinks is good for you are: Eating when you are hungry, drinking water when you’re thirsty, taking a cool shower when it’s hot and vice-versa, and anything around the notion or activity of sex.
Why explain all this? Because Oxycontin, along with all the opioids and opiates have something similar: they are structurally similar to endorphins. When Oxycontin enters your bloodstream, it eventually goes to the part of your head called the “blood-brain barrier.” This densely packed cells only allow very small, or very specific kinds of materials. Oxycontin passes seamlessly and goes into the brain.
Your neurons get exposed to the oxycontin, and the neurons will react as if it had received endorphins. This is how Opiates and Opioids block pain. By mimicking Endorphins, they stop the signals from both reaching the brain and the other way around.
Another effect is that the surge of opioids in the brain causes your brain to create a lot of dopamine, giving you a mild but overpowering sense of euphoria, or a false sense of wellbeing. This is the key addictive effect1iop[/.,m that made heroin illegal. For people who actually feel constant pain from their conditions, the euphoric effect is not felt as much.
How Addictive is It?
In order to understand how addictive a drug is, we have to first understand how addiction works. You could say that oxycontin is very addictive when abused, but so is alcohol and cocaine. Alcohol could be more addictive than Oxycontin or the other way around. The key here are the factors apart from the drug.
Constant Stressors and Triggers
The first factor of addiction. We all have problems in life, some worse than others. When we feel stress, what we do is relieve it. We do this by either addressing the stress or avoiding it. Such activities could be practicing our hobbies, doing activities that either stimulate or relax us (like eating and sleeping) or solving the cause of the stress. This is one of the factors that “push” a person into doing something in particular, like abusing drugs.
Supply of Substance
No drugs no drug addiction. Simple as that. The second driver of addiction is when a person can secure a supply of it. If they have stressors and triggers they want to avoid, and the substance is within reach, they will find it hard to resist partaking of it. What’s surprising is that even if drugs are not present, but there are stressors and the other factors, people would just be addicted to the “next best thing.”
Tolerance and Dependency
These factors go hand-in-hand like a pair of handcuffs. Coffee, for example, contains caffeine, a chemical stimulant that helps you feel perky and energetic, enough to whisk off lethargy and be more productive at work. If you drink enough over a period of time, the effects will start to diminish a little. It may take you two cups of coffee before you feel the same effect as before. This is called Tolerance and our bodies do this to protect us from potential poisoning.
Dependency happens when we find ourselves unable to function without the substance. Either because we don’t feel right when we haven’t taken it, or actual physical dependence. Physical dependence happens when your brain and body adjust to the common intake of a substance. So much that both your brain and body thinks that it’s normal to have the substance.
One terrible example is Dopamine Dependency. Your brain produces dopamine at regular, highly controlled levels. When you take a substance that causes a spike of dopamine, your brain will detect the oversaturation, and shut down all faculties that produce dopamine. Alongside shutting down production, your brain will command the creation more enzymes that help metabolize the excess dopamine. If the supply is constant, the brain will keep dopamine production shut down. If this happens long enough, the brain will shut it down permanently, due to a developmental rule called, “If you don’t use it, lose it,” as an effort to save processing power.
The result, the person is dependent on drugs to feel good. Nothing will make the person feel happy except for the drug. When they can’t get their supply, they could potentially be stuck in a state of absolute chemical despair where nothing will make them feel joy.
The effect of the Substance
The drug’s effect is only a part of the several addiction drivers. The more potent the effect, the more satisfaction or escapism it provides, the more potential addicts will gravitate towards it. Oxycontin’s active ingredient, Oxycodone is less powerful than Morphine, but it still has the potential for abuse. How addictive it is, however, cannot be accurately stated.
If a healthy person with good hobbies and a good balance of stress and relief take Oxycontin, they may have an experience worth sharing, but there’s not enough “drive” to make them try it again, or at least not enough drive to make them take another one sooner. Whereas a person with a deadbeat job and nearly unbearable home and family conditions may seek more of the drugs because it “makes all the problems go away,” temporarily.
Can It be Crushed?
Oxycontin should not be crushed and should only be swallowed whole. Oxycontin is a special slow-release capsule structured to last 12 hours in your body. Crushing the tablet will cause more Oxycodone to be released into your body, nearly guaranteeing an overdose. The effect will be overwhelming and will only last a few hours.
Worse, if you have a prescription and a blood and urine test revealed that you have higher concentrations of Oxycodone in your system than what’s prescribed, your physician will have the right to revoke your prescription. This will be in your permanent medical record and might make it difficult for you to get medications from other doctors.
How Long Does It Stay In Your Blood?
Surprisingly, drugs don’t remain detectable in your blood for a long time. In fact, blood has the smallest timeframe before any drugs become undetectable, but this is due to our body’s efficient and aggressive filtering systems.
Considering we start counting after the 12 hours effect duration of Oxycontin, traceable amounts will remain up until 24 hours. Depending on your metabolism, it could be a few hours longer or shorter.
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