OxyContin is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. OxyContin contains Oxycodone which is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. OxyContin works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. OxyContin is the brand name for an opioid analgesic containing the active ingredient oxycodone. OxyContin is a legal narcotic that is available, by prescription, to treat severe pain. OxyContin is a controlled-release medication that, when used correctly, provides extended relief of pain. However, often when OxyContin is abused, the tablets are crushed and snorted, chewed, or mixed with water and injected thus eliminating the time-release factor and allowing for a quick and intense rush of this drug to the brain. This practice can lead to overdosing on the Oxycontin active ingredient, oxycodone, by releasing too much of the medication into the bloodstream too quickly. OxyContin is highly addictive, and drug treatment centers have seen record numbers of individuals going through drug rehab specifically for OxyContin abuse, and all of the other prescription drugs containing Oxycodone. Illicit users of the drug have risen drastically and steadily over the last few years. OxyContin is also known as Oxy, OxyCotton, Oxy 80 (for the 80mg dose), or OC.

OxyContin is a central nervous system depressant. OxyContin appears to work through stimulating the opioid receptors found in the central nervous system that activate responses ranging from analgesia to respiratory depression to euphoria. People who take the drug repeatedly can develop a tolerance or resistance to the drug's effects. Thus, a cancer patient can take a dose of oxycodone on a regular basis that would be fatal in a person never exposed to OxyContin or another opioid. Most individuals who abuse OxyContin seek to mitigate pain, and avoid the withdrawal symptoms associated with OxyContin or heroin abstinence. OxyContin has a high abuse potential and should be prescribed sparingly, but this is not always the case. OxyContin is prescribed for moderate to high pain relief associated with injuries, bursitis, dislocation, fractures, neuralgia, arthritis, and lower back and cancer pain. It is also used postoperatively and for pain relief after childbirth. OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, and Tylox are trade name oxycodone products. OxyContin is designed to be swallowed whole; however, abusers ingest the drug in a variety of ways. OxyContin abusers often chew the tablets or crush the tablets and snort the powder. Because Oxycontin is water soluble, crushed tablets can be dissolved in water and the solution injected. The latter two methods of abusing Oxycontin lead to the rapid release and absorption of oxycodone, and an increase in the likelihood of addiction or in rare instances death.

The most serious short term side effects associated with OxyContin, is respiratory depression. Because of this, OxyContin should not be combined with other substances that slow down breathing, such as alcohol, antihistamines (like some cold or allergy medication), barbiturates, or benzodiazepines. Other common side effects include constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Toxic overdose and/or death can occur by taking the OxyContin tablet broken, chewed, or crushed. People who abuse OxyContin (by removing the time-release coating) will experience effects for up to 5 hours. The high that is felt from abusing OxyContin in this way is said to be a sedate, almost euphoric feeling. Some individuals who like this sedative effect and they began to take more Oxycontin than has been prescribed, hoping to heighten this effect.

The long term side effects of OxyContin when abused may include confusion, loss of consciousness, cold or clammy skin, seizures, and respiratory depression. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements.

Using OxyContin chronically can result in increased tolerance to the drug in which higher doses of the medication must be taken to receive the initial effect. Over time, OxyContin will become physically addictive, causing a person to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present. The withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin are very similar to those of Heroine withdrawal. OxyContin, like heroin and other opioids, is a central nervous system depressant, and overdose can cause respiratory failure and death. Some symptoms of OxyContin overdose include: dizziness, weakness, cold and clammy skin, tiredness, confusion, and in the worst case scenario of OxyContin abuse, coma or death.