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Pain is perhaps the worst thing your body can experience short of actually dying. We, humans, are programmed to stay away from pain. Some of us have adapted to endure the pain, and in fact, use it as a method to gauge our progress, much like athletes. However when it comes to injury such as broken bones, slipped discs, and torn ligaments, the pain is unbearable. Pain is meant to tell us that there’s something wrong in our body. We know where the pain is, and we know what the damage is, but the pain doesn’t go away. We’re stuck writhing and seething our teeth, hoping the pain would go away.

That’s where opioids shined. These drugs which are meant to mimic the natural painkilling chemicals in our brain are administered to those who truly need relief from pain. One common opioid prescribed to people suffering from chronic, moderate to severe pain is Oxycontin.

What is in Oxycontin?

Oxycontin has varying formulations and concentrations. In some versions, it’s mixed with, Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. These substances are meant to help quickly address some of the conditions. One such reason is that the time it takes for Oxycontin to work is around 20 minutes. Adding a supplementary painkiller will help slowly cover for that 20 minutes before the actual effect settles in.

Commonly though, Oxycontin tablets only contain Oxycontin as an active ingredient. An active ingredient means it’s biologically active, or the one causing a biological effect.

The brands that contain acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol are the following:

  • Primlev
  • Roxicet
  • Taxadone
  • Tylox
  • Xolox
  • Endocet
  • Lynox
  • Magnacet
  • Narvox
  • Percocet
  • Perloxx

The formulation that contains Ibuprofen is Combunox. The brand names that have aspirin on them, are the following:

  • Percodan
  • Endodan
  • Roxipin

Along with Oxycodone and whichever supplemental medication it has, also has the following substances mixed in it.

  • Ammonio methacrylate copolymer
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Hypromellose
  • Lactose
  • Polyethylene oxide
  • Polyethylene glycol 400
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Povidone
  • Talc
  • Triacetin
  • Titanium dioxide

These chemicals are what make up the special time-release pill. Oxycontin’s effect can last 10-12 hours, thanks to the unique mix of these chemicals.

What is it Prescribed for?

A licensed physician can prescribe Oxycontin for patients who require round-the-clock pain relief. In some cases, patients only need pain-relievers as they need them. In those cases, physicians prescribe lower strength opiates like codeine.

For people who have post-surgery pain, slipped discs, spinal stenosis, injuries on the bones and soft tissues, chronic joint pain, nerve pain such as carpal tunnel and damage due to diabetes, cancer, and fibromyalgia, doctors prescribe varying concentrations of Oxycontin.

Patients who suffer from asthma, lung cancer and any other conditions that affect breathing, are at risk if they take oxycontin. One of Oxycontin’s side effects is that it slows the breathing rhythm. Taking opioids vastly increases the chance of having an asthma attack and people with sleep apnea can suffer oxygen deprivation if they take the drug before sleeping.

How Much is It?

Prices of Oxycontin can vary depending on the formulation, the concentration, where it’s sold, and how it’s sold. Unfortunately, there are vendors who discreetly and illegally sell Oxycontin at a much higher price, albeit without a prescription, of course. In other cases, insurance companies cover a good percentage of the drug’s cost. Some of the time though, all people could do is purchase them directly at a licensed pharmacy to get the drug at full price. With that said, how much is the usual cost of Oxytocin?

For those who don’t have insurance to cover a portion of the costs, the average cost per tablet is as follows:

  • 10mg Tablets

Usually Sold in: 60 tablet jars

Average Price per Pack: $150

Average Price per Tablet: $2.5

  • 20mg Tablets

Usually Sold in: 60 tablet jars

Average Price per Pack: $250

Average Price per Tablet: $4

  • 40 mg Tablets

Usually Sold in: 60 tablet jars

Average Price per Pack: $375

Average Price per Tablet: $6.25

  • 80 mg Tablets

Usually Sold in: 60 tablet jars

Average Price per Pack: $700

Average Price per Tablet: $11.5

They also come in the 20s and 30s. Bundled packages can have discounts, so the higher the amount you buy, the less the price per pill. As said earlier, the price will vary depending on where you buy it. For example, a 60 tablet jar of Oxycontin can cost $650 in Costco, while in Rite-Aid, can cost as much as $900.

The key to getting them at a lower cost is to get discount coupons or health insurance. Health insurance, depending on your coverage, can cover as much as 80% of the total cost, or at least 30% of it. 30% is a lot in cases where you have to take pain medication for several months, which can save you quite a good sum of money.

What Type of Drug is It?

Oxycontin is known as a narcotic. Narcotics are the family of drugs that have powerful painkilling effects. Types of Narcotics include Morphine, Codeine, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and the infamous Heroin.

Nearly all of the opioids are narcotics, with the exception of Loperamide, an antimotility pill used to stop diarrhea. It’s still an opioid, but its formulation prevents it from reaching the blood-brain barrier, resulting in no psychoactive or painkilling effects regardless of how much dosage is taken.

Unfortunately, Narcotics is often associated with other illegal drugs. Heroin had created such a  reputation for illegal drugs that when people think of narcotics, they think of cocaine, LSD, and cannabis, which are stimulants, hallucinogens, and depressants respectively.

Possession and usage of Oxycontin without a prescription from a licensed physician is illegal. Oxycontin is a Schedule II drug, known for its high potential for severe psychological and physical dependence.

This is why it’s important to only take Oxycontin as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more as it will likely induce faster tolerance and if the conditions are right, trigger addiction. If you plan to take less of the drug, consult your doctor first, so they can advise you on an alternative drug, or a tapering scheme to help you get off Oxycontin safely.

What are the Side Effects?

Since Oxycontin creates a massive imbalance in the body’s own brain chemicals, side effects are to be expected. As you grow more accustomed to the drug, the less the side effects will be, but some of them remain the same, and in fact can get worse.

  • Nausea and Vomiting

This is mainly due to the effect of Opioids as they reach your brainstem. Your brainstem controls a majority of your involuntary actions and reflexes like your breathing, coughing and sneezing reflexes, gag reflexes, and heart rate. Oxycontin can trigger the nausea center of your brainstem and stimulate it. The effect is minimal and some users don’t encounter it. For those who do, the feeling will wear off with continued use.

  • Drowsiness and Sleepiness

This is not a direct effect of the drug, rather, the side effect of a side effect. As Oxycontin reaches your brain, it triggers the release of dopamine. Known as the feel-good and reward chemical, dopamine as a relaxing effect. The best way to describe it is that it gives a false sense of well-being and releases tension. This relaxing effect can cause lethargy and a heavy, warm feeling.

  • Itchiness

Opiates trigger the release of not just Dopamine, but an inflammatory chemical known as Histamine. Abundant during allergic reactions, Histamine will cause flushing of the face, the chest, and itchy sensations all around your body. With Oxycontin, the effect is minimal and users have gotten used to it.

  • Headaches and Lightheadedness

Opioids like Oxycontin can affect the brain in a lot of ways. As the brain gets a release of dopamine, it promotes the flow of blood in the brain. This causes increased intracranial pressure, which may lead to headaches and lightheadedness. Generally, opioids are not good at solving headaches, and may, in fact, make them worse.

  • Slow and shallow breathing

As the opioids reach your brainstem, they disrupt the part of your brainstem that controls your breathing rhythm. It hinders the firing of neurons in that area, causing a depressing effect. With less neural activity in your breathing center, the fewer actions your diaphragm and lungs will do. This leads to shallower and slower breathing. Users state that even if you try to breath deep, you still get the sensation that you’re not breathing enough.

  • Constipation

This side effect is caused by the opioids attaching to neurons on your intestinal lining. Since Opioids are inhibitory in nature, the same action happens on your intestines, causing them to slow down, or downright stop. This means digestion takes longer, and food stays in your gut longer for bacteria to process. Another effect is that it reduces the rate of which your stomach releases its digestive juices, all of which, ultimately leads to constipation.

If you experience any other side-effects or worse side-effects than what is described, call your doctor immediately.

How Long Does It Stay in Your System?

There are a lot of factors which can affect how long Oxycontin stays in your body. There is your metabolism, body size, amount of drug taken, and how much liquids you take in and excrete in the form of sweat and urine.

One constant to consider is Oxycontin’s Half-life. A drug’s half-life is basically a measure when the drug’s effect would be most potent. A rough example is that Oxycontin lasts 12 hours in the body. After around 5.5 to 6 hours, it will reach it’s first half-life, meeting the maximum ratio of opioid to blood. As the hours go by, the concentration will become less and less, until it’s virtually gone by the 12th hour.

Though the effect is gone, traces of the drug can still be detected inside your body. On average, if the person does nothing out of the normal, traces of Oxycontin will last for 3 days. Afterwards, only the miniscule amounts would be left, or none at all.

If a person has a higher metabolism, larger muscle mass, and drinks frequently, complete detox from Oxycontin can be as short as 1 day, but obese people with slower metabolisms, can take up to 5 days before all traces of it is gone.

It’s also possible for traces of oxycontin to be present in your fat cells. Even if a week has passed and your bloodstream is devoid of the opioid, traces of it can still exist inside your fat cells, which will only be processed when you burn them through regular activity or exercise.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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