OxyContin is a brand-name version of extended-release oxycodone, a powerful opioid analgesic, that causes feelings of relaxation and pain relief, and can sometimes elicit feelings of euphoria. This well-known painkiller is used to treat severe and chronic pain and extremely effective at blocking pain signals – perhaps, too effective. OxyContin’s potency can backfire as the same qualities that make it such an effective painkiller also cause it to be highly addictive. Additionally, OxyContin has a strong potential for abuse as it can induce a pleasurable high when crushed, snorted, or injected (all of which are not the way it should be administered).
These and other factors have contributed to OxyContin being one of the most widely abused prescription drugs. In a survey, nearly 1 million U.S. residents reported abusing the drug (using without medical need or in a non prescribed manner) at least once in their lifetime. The number of OxyContin prescriptions has increased at a rapid pace, nearly doubling from 2008 to 2018, and with it, so have the instances of oxycodone abuse, overdoses, and fatalities as well.