OxyContin is a prescription drug for pain, produced by Purdue Pharma. The brand is a time-release formula of the analgesic chemical oxycodone. It is classified by the DEA as a drug of concern; other brands include Tylox and Percodan.
The medical use for products that contain oxycodone is for relief from moderate to severe pain. Controlled-release tablets are prescribed when there is a need for continuous analgesic over an extended period of time. The drug, however, can produce euphoric effects; this is the reason why it has been subject to abuse. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, oxycodone is “equipotent to morphine in relieving abstinence symptoms from chronic opiate (heroin, morphine) administration.”
Among its illegal uses is for relief from opiate withdrawal for those who use heroin and methadone. Controlled-release tablets – such as OxyContin – are favored by abusers and those who engage in doctor-shopping, since there is a large amount of oxycodone in them (10 to 80 mg).
Oxycodone is abused in any of the following ways: taken intact as tablets; crushing then snorting or injecting the tablet; or chewing and swallowing. Products with oxycodone combined with acetaminophen or aspirin are abused orally.
Oxycodone is a legitimate drug but its distribution is regulated through the need for prescriptions. It comes in tablet, capsule and liquid forms. Abusers get the drug through forged prescriptions, doctor-shopping, professional diversion with the participation of corrupt pharmacists and physicians, and blatant break-ins on pharmacies.