What is the Oxycontin high like when you take an Oxycontin tablet?
It can be hard for a person who has not taken a particular drug to relate to the experience of taking it. Drugs take a person outside of the normal human experience, so explaining the feeling of a particular drug high is not easy.
In working with many patients who have struggled with opioid addiction, I have heard many different accounts of how it feels to get high with drugs such as Oxycontin and oxycodone. Being pain relievers, these drugs are able to help a person to better tolerate moderate to severe pain. However, the pain may be psychological or emotional as well as physical.
Not only are there different accounts of how the high from Oxycontin feels, it also depends on the person and how they are taking the drug. For someone taking an oxycodone pill as directed for chronic pain, they may not experience a high at all.
For people who take the painkiller recreationally, they may crush up the pills to snort, smoke, or inject them. Yet, the most common method of opioid abuse has always been simply swallowing the opioid drug with water.
Why would someone want to inject Oxycontin? If injecting drugs is so dangerous, why would anyone think of doing such a thing?
The reason why people inject drugs to get high is that the feeling is both stronger and comes on faster. The very fast onset of a drug high from injecting or smoking the drug is called a “rush.”
Opioid addicts describe this rush as being superior to the feeling of waiting for the high to come on after swallowing some pills. Yet, not only is shooting up an Oxycontin tablet dangerous, the intense high from injecting it makes the drug much more addicting.
What are some typical descriptions of the Oxycontin high?
One patient once told me that getting high on Oxycontin felt like he was being protected by angels. He described it as a warm, glowing feeling of calm and protection.
This account is similar to other common accounts where people who engage in Oxycontin abuse describe feeling as if the world is all OK and there is nothing to worry about. They experience a brief period where everything seems good with the world and there is no pain.
Of course, the artificial overstimulation of opioid receptors comes with a high price. Oxycodone abuse leads to high tolerance to the opioid painkiller. After some time of abusing Oxycontin, the opioid abuser does not feel the high as intensely anymore.
At first, it takes more Oxycontin to feel the same high, and after a while, taking Oxycontin barely causes any high at all. Many recovering Oxycontin addicts describe it as taking the prescription opioid just to feel normal.
The problem is that, when a person develops an oxycodone addiction, to Oxycontin for example, when they stop taking the drug, they start to experience Oxycontin withdrawal. Oxycontin withdrawal, like opioid withdrawal in general, is a very unpleasant state of anxiety, depression, muscle aching, cramping, chills, upset stomach, and a general state of feeling very bad.
One way to make the opioid withdrawal symptoms go away quickly is to take more opioid pain medication, or even fentanyl or heroin from the streets. This vicious cycle is what leads to the state of Oxycontin abuse where a person takes the drug mainly to not feel sick.
The chasing of the Oxycontin high is no longer a priority. The opioid user simply wants to feel normal for a few more hours before withdrawal starts to set in again.
What does Oxycontin feel like in your hand?
An Oxycontin tablet is small. After hearing stories about the intense high that people get from this drug, you might be surprised to see how small the tablets are.
Additionally, they are very hard and have no score line to show where to break the tablet in half. Oxycontin is a time-release drug that uses a physical mechanism to release the drug inside slowly as the tablet passes through the patient’s intestines. Oxycontin tablets are not at all intended to be broken in half.
If you were able to scrape away the outer coating of an Oxycontin tablet and look at it under a microscope, you might notice a tiny hole on the tablet. I am not certain if Oxycontin tablets have a single micro-drilled hole or many holes, but the hole in the tablet is intended to allow for the release of medication.
If you had the strongest Oxycontin tablet in your hand, you would be holding a tiny container of 80 mg of the drug oxycodone. At one time, Purdue, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, also made a 160 mg tablet. In the early 2000s, it was decided that there was no need for that strength, so it was discontinued.
An 80 mg tablet of Oxycontin contains the same amount of oxycodone as eight of the strongest Percocet tablets. And, since Percocet also contains Tylenol, a single Oxycontin 80 mg tablet is several times smaller than a single Percocet 10 mg tablet.
It was the high potency of Oxycontin that intrigued opioid users when the drug first came out on the market. There were already oxycodone addicts who found it interesting that they could get large amounts of their drug in a tiny little package.
What does a crushed up Oxycontin feel like?
Back when Oxycontin was still a relatively new drug, and Purdue was telling doctors that it was safe and could not be abused, opioid abusers were finding that it was actually fairly easy to abuse it. One recovering Oxycontin addict once told me that they simply had to chew the tablet to release all of the medication at once.
The Purdue reps insisted that this was not possible because the tablet also contained a substance to make the Oxycontin user nauseous so they would vomit up the drug. It turned out that this early abuse deterrent system was not at all effective.
Around 2010, Purdue quickly made an adjustment to the formulation of Oxycontin. The updated formula involved the introduction of an effective abuse deterrent system.
The new system involved a hard outer coating with the drug inside surrounded by a protective polymer matrix. If you were able to crush one of these tablets with a hammer and then hold it, you might notice the sticky, goopy ingredient, intended to keep people from snorting or injecting the oxycodone contained in the Oxycontin tablet.
Did the new Oxycontin tablets prevent all abuse after its introduction in 2010? Of course, abuse continued, but some of the most dangerous abuse, involving snorting or shooting up, was stopped. While there were still ways to separate the drug from its new thick, protective polymer, most opioid addicts would not have the knowledge or patience to perform whatever chemistry was necessary.
As was pointed out in the CDC report on opioid prescribing in 2016, most prescription pain pill abuse occurred by people swallowing the pills and not snorting or shooting them into a vein, or even smoking oxycodone. This meant that Oxycontin abuse continued by the oral route, even with the new abuse deterrent in place.
What does Oxycontin addiction feel like?
Opioid addiction involves two key components that make it more difficult to quit opioids than many other drugs. Addiction to opioids causes the opioid addict to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings when they are not able to take their drug on time.
Other drugs cause psychological cravings that lead to the never-ending obsession with the drug. Cocaine and methamphetamine are known to cause very intense drug cravings.
However, those other drugs do not cause physical withdrawal symptoms. Oxycontin, and other opioids, cause opioid withdrawal that has been described as the worst imaginable feeling, like having the flu but a hundred times worse.
Just like it is difficult to convey what an Oxycontin high feels like, it is just as difficult to convey to another person how Oxycontin withdrawal feels. Listing the symptoms may help, but people who have not experienced full-blown opioid withdrawal cannot possibly know how bad the experience really is.
Even when withdrawal is mild, it is extremely unpleasant. Some people describe it as a cold and icky feeling. They just want the feeling to go away.
The cravings caused by Oxycontin addiction are intense. People who abuse Oxycontin think about the drug all the time. They cannot get it off of their minds. Every waking moment is filled with thoughts about where the next tablets are coming from and how they will be used.
It is hard to imagine that there are people who go to work every day and somehow hold their lives together while going through the cycle of cravings and withdrawal and the relief of using more Oxycontin. They may get their work done during the day and take care of their families in the evenings, but all they can think about through everything is when they get to take that next pill.
What does it feel like to overcome Oxycontin addiction?
How does someone quit one of the most addicting opioid pills on the planet? Is there an Oxycontin rehab to detox people off of an oxy addiction?
There are rehabs that help people to quit Oxycontin. You can choose to check into a 30 day residential rehab program where they will detox you off of Oxycontin and introduce you to a recovery program.
An alternative that is highly effective is medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine. While there has been some difficulty in transitioning people from street fentanyl to Suboxone, going from Oxycontin to Suboxone is fairly straightforward.
To quit Oxycontin and start Suboxone, the first step is to make an appointment with a Suboxone doctor. The doctor will help you to make the transition from taking your last Oxycontin tablet to taking your first Suboxone film or tablet. The process is known as “induction.”
Some inductions are easier than others. Some people feel great from the first moment they feel the effects of Suboxone. Other people may not feel back to normal right away, but with time, they will start to feel much better.
Suboxone is a highly effective opioid receptor blocker that also happens to partially activate the opioid receptors. It is ideally suited for Oxycontin addiction treatment. Suboxone blocks opioid withdrawal sickness and it blocks cravings.
And, Suboxone does not have the side effects of Oxycontin that affect mental functioning. When a person who is addicted to Oxycontin starts Suboxone, the opioid cloud is lifted and they are able to think clearly again.
The intense cravings go away. A person on Suboxone does not have addictive thoughts. The obsession to get and use opioids goes away.
Many people who go from Oxycontin to Suboxone describe the experience as feeling as if they never had an Oxycontin addiction. They are able to function normally again, without the obsession or compulsion to take more opioid pills.
What does Oxycontin going away feel like?
Is Oxycontin finally going away? After about two decades of Purdue pumping out millions of Oxycontin tablets, the company is being dismantled and shut down. Senior executives have been charged with criminal activity in their efforts to convince doctors to prescribe the drug.
How does a drug company convince doctors that they can safely prescribe a dangerous opioid? Doctors are bombarded with medical education from many directions. They are visited by representatives from pharmaceutical companies and invited to informative lectures on their products.
At least, when the company is sponsoring an event, doctors can somewhat see through the marketing. Still, Purdue’s marketing was highly effective at putting doctor’s minds at ease.
A much more insidious form of marketing was to get doctors on board who lecture at medical conferences. And, to infiltrate major medical organizations that had great influence on doctors.
Doctors heard trusted authorities in their fields tell them from the podium at large medical conferences that they should be prescribing more Oxycontin for pain. Doctors were told that they might be disciplined for not treating their patient’s pain adequately.
While the company that makes Oxycontin is going out of business as part of an agreement with the federal government, the tablets may continue to be manufactured. Oxycontin has been available as a generic medication for years now. It is known as oxycodone ER.
It is likely that even though Purdue will not be around anymore to aggressively market opioids to doctors and to the public, the generic Oxycontin will still be sold at pharmacies. Fortunately, doctors are more aware now of the dangers of prescribing Oxycontin.
It is a drug more likely to be prescribed to a cancer patient rather than to a healthy individual who strained their shoulder playing golf or tennis. So, while Oxycontin in the generic form may not go away anytime soon, it is an opioid drug that is much better understood now.
Doctors know now to only prescribe Oxycontin if it is absolutely necessary. They are now aware of the dangers of Oxycontin addiction and the risk of overdose. The public is also more aware of the dangers of opioids and that they must be avoided unless absolutely needed for intractable pain. For more information about Oxycontin addiction, tune in to our Oxycontin addiction podcasts on this website.