Oxycontin: A Painkiller, or a Pill that Kills?
To most people, pain is a nuisance. But to others, pain controls their life. The feeling discomforts us in ways that can sometimes seem almost imaginable. These feelings can lead to many different side effects if not dealt with or diagnosed. These effects can include depression, anxiety, and incredible amounts of stress. The truth about pain is that it is vital to our existence. Without the nervous system responding to pain, we would have no idea if we were touching a hot stove, being stuck by a porcupine's needles, or something else that could leave a lasting effect upon our bodies without us even knowing anything about it. This warning system helps to alert us when there is potential harm to our bodies (Stimmel 26). For those whose lives have been forever disrupted by pain, a miracle drug has been put onto the market which alleviates the pain, and allows the consumer to return to a more normal lifestyle. Since being approved in 1995, Oxycontin has become one of America's most prescribed medicines for chronic pain. It has many street names such as killers, OC, Oxy, and Oxycotton. It is proven to provide sustained relief for up to twelve hours and has few serious side effects. Oxycontin is a safe drug if used properly, but the problem that exists is that when abused, Oxycontin can become lethal (Allison 2). Until this century, researchers and doctors have not understood how to stop pain, without introducing other side effects such as addiction. Physicians were limited to the drugs that they used to stop the pain because not enough was known in the past. This issue has recently changed from not having strong enough drugs to dampen the effects of pain, rather to deciding which degree of a painkiller to give the patient. This is in part due to the intense nature of some drugs that have been recently developed (Sanberg 82). Oxycontin is one of these drugs that are only given to patients with severe pain problems. To be prescribed this medication, one must have a disease or have been involved in some tragic accident that has left them unable to cope with the pain on a day to day basis. The reason that this drug can be so intense and dangerous is because it falls into the category II narcotics (Congress 112-113). Many commonly known narcotics include opium, morphine, and heroin. The addiction rate of any of these drugs is phenomenal. Narcotics are central nervous system depressants that relieve pain without causing the loss of consciousness. They can also produce feelings of drowsiness, mental confusion and euphoria. The analgesic effect of narcotics results from the drugs' effects on the emotional aspects of pain. Many patients that experience intense pain say that after the administration of the narcotic, their pain is as intense as ever but no longer as bothersome. Because narcotics block the emotional side effects of pain they make it much more bearable (Stimmel 29-32).
To ease this pain, researchers associated with Purdue Pharma created Oxycontin to help patients with chronic and unbearable pain resulting from accidents, cancer, or old age. In every year since it was released, the number of prescriptions prescribed to patients has increased by several hundred percent (Allison 1). Oxycontin is a trade name for the drug oxycodone hydrochloride. It is a controlled release form of oxycodone that is prescribed to treat chronic pain. When used properly, Oxycontin can provide pain relief for up to twelve hours. The drug enters the body and stimulates certain opioid receptors that are located throughout the nervous system, in the brain, and along the spinal cord. When abused, Oxycontin can become dangerously addictive. Frequent and repeated misuse of the drug can cause the user to develop a tolerance to its effects, so that larger doses are required to achieve the desired sensation and the abuser becomes increasingly addicted to the drug...
Cited: Allison, Wes. "People in Pain Fear Oxycontin Backlash." St. Petersburg Times 27 May 2001.
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Bellenir, Karen. Drug Abuse Sourcebook. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2000.
Burleson, Jenn. "Pulaski is Hoping that Fingerprints will Curb Oxycontin Abuse." The Roanoke Times 15 March 2001.
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Stimmel, Barry. Pain, Analgesia, and Addiction. New York: Raven Press, 1983.
United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Control Program. Prescription Pain Medications. 5 Jan. 2005. 1 Aug. 2004
United States Committee on Health, Education, and Labor. Oxycontin, balancing risks and benefits. 30 Jan. 2005. 12 Feb. 2002
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