Term Paper: Prescription Drug Oxycontin

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Prescription Drug Abuse: OxyContin

Drug abuse continues to be one of the most negative elements of our modern society. Some of the most commonly abused drugs include but they are not limited to cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. It is however important to note that people are increasingly making use of prescription medications for purposes other than their intended use. OxyContin, a prescription drug, has in the recent past generated considerable heat in the media due to numerous reports of its abuse. What has contributed to the increased abuse of OxyContin and is what is being done to contain the situation enough?

OxyContin: Overview

OxyContin in the words of Girard (2011) "is a synthetic narcotic containing oxycodone, an analgesic compound with a chemical structure that is very similar to the chemical structures of morphine and heroin" (p.279). As the author further points out, OxyContin was initially approved in the U.S. As a relatively effective medication in the management of chronic and severe pain. It is however important to note that the abuse of this particular drug has in the recent past led to increased crime rates, instances of overdose, and even death (Girard, 2011). Today, like other hard drugs, OxyContin has acquired quite a number of street names with some referring to it as hillbilly heroin or simply, O.C (Hanson, Venturelli, and Fleckenstein, 2011). It should be noted from the onset that OxyContin can be misused in two main ways; that is, when those experiencing chronic and severe pain fail to take it as prescribed and when individuals with no medical condition necessitating its use inject, snort, or ingest the drug so as to feel "high." OxyContin is currently regarded a Schedule II Controlled substance. The drug is therefore under DEA's legal control and for this reason, it is closely regulated.

Prescription Use of OxyContin

As I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, OxyContin was approved in the U.S. As a prescription pain reliever especially for those with chronic and chronic pain. When used as prescribed, the drug should be taken twice a day, i.e. after every 12 hours. This according to Lowinson, Ruiz, Millman, & Langrod (2005) is particularly the case given that the drug's contents are typically released (under controlled-release) after approximately 12 hours. In relation to other pain relievers in the market that are often taken multiple times a day, OxyContin does have a clear benefit in this particular case. Patients who could benefit from OxyContin prescription include but they are not limited to those suffering from cancer, neck pain, and back discomfort. Given its efficiency as a pain reliever, the drug could also be used in the treatment as well as management of arthritis and dislocations. It is however important to note that the use of this particular drug has to be closely monitored by a health professional due to its potency. Improper use of the drug, even in pain management and control, could lead to adverse health effects.

Abuse of OxyContin

In this text, I mainly concern myself with the abuse of OxyContin amongst those with no medical condition necessitating its utilization. Abusers of OxyContin use three methods to get the drug into their system, i.e. they could snort, ingest, or simply inject it into their blood stream (Lowinson, Ruiz, Millman, & Langrod, 2005). There is also the other section of OxyContin users who have legitimate pain complaints and who end up becoming dependent on the drug due to long-term exposure. It should however be noted that as per the strict definition of prescription drug abuse, such individuals are simply dependent on OxyContin and not necessarily abusers of the same. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012) regards drug abuse as the illicit utilization of a substance, that is; the utilization of prescription drugs in a way that cannot be regarded medical.

Effects of OxyContin Abuse

Just like is the case with other commonly abused drugs, abusers of OxyContin report feeling "high" whenever they introduce the drug to their system. Some abusers have compared this particular "high" feeling to that of heroin. It is important to note that like heroin, OxyContin is an opioid. According to Hales (2010), "opioids include opium and its derivatives (morphine, codeine, and heroin), and synthetic drugs that have similar sleep-inducing and pain-reliving properties" (p.367). Thus given its ability to depress the central nervous system, an overdose of OxyContin could be fatal. Some of the symptoms of an overdose of OxyContin include but they are not limited to a feeling of tiredness and confusion, general body weakness, dizziness, nausea, etc. According to Hyde and Setaro (2003), an overdose of the drug could also lead to respiratory depression. It should also be noted that OxyContin (like all opioids) is a highly addictive drug and for this reason, those who suddenly stop taking the drug could experience withdrawal symptoms. In those instances when it is taken as prescribed, the drug is rarely addictive. The most common withdrawal symptoms for the drug include depression, nausea, muscle ache, anxiety, etc. (Hyde and Setaro, 2003).

Addiction Treatment

There are various treatment options for individuals addicted to OxyContin. One option that has proven effective in the treatment of addiction to painkillers like OxyContin is medically-managed detoxification (Samuels and O'Boyle, 2013). Apart from detoxification, behavioral interventions could also be used in the treatment of addiction to OxyContin. These interventions seek to reduce the abuse of OxyContin amongst patients.

The Way Forward

Experts appear puzzled by the increased instances of prescription drug abuse. One of the factors which could be responsible for this trend is drug availability. The reasoning here is that amongst other factors, online pharmacies have made it relatively easy for individuals, particularly youngsters, to buy prescription drugs (U.S. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health, 2013). In some cases, all an individual requires to make the said purchase is a credit card. Addiction to other illegal drugs could be yet another factor contributing to increased instances of prescription drug abuse. It is important to note that as drugs like cocaine and heroin become less available due to the concerted efforts of law enforcement officers to limit their use; those addicted to the said drugs could turn to easily available prescription drugs to satisfy their desire to be "high." Although it is much easier to obtain than perhaps cocaine or heroin, OxyContin according to Swartz (2012) happens to be more expensive than most illegal drugs.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the abuse of prescription drugs has been termed an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the White House, 2013). This is an indicator of how serious the problem is. For this reason, there is a need for all the stakeholders to take decisive measures in an attempt to end the epidemic. To begin with, the various agencies involved in the war against drugs should initiate an aggressive public campaign aimed at informing members of the public (particularly teens) about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Although many people are well aware of the dangers of abusing illegal drugs like cocaine, there are those who are convinced that prescription drugs are much safer. Indeed, as the Office of National Drug Control Policy notes, "some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist" (the White House, 2013). This statement goes a long way to indicate just how misinformed members of the public are about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. There is also a need to have in place tougher penalties for those found to have contravened guidelines issued in relation to the issuance of prescription drugs.

Thankfully, the Obama Administration has in place a Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention… [END OF PREVIEW]

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