Does OxyContin cause euphoria?

Yes, OxyContin (usually prescribed for moderate to severe pain) can cause euphoric effects. Learn how, when and why here.

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How does OxyContin work?

OxyContin is the brand name for a medication which contains oxycodone, an opioid drug and derivative of opium. Oxycodone works by attaching itself to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain and other organs. When the drug attaches to certain regions of the brain, OxyContin can diminish the perception of pain. But another reaction that is possible. That is euphoria.

OxyContin and euphoric effects

Like all opioid narcotics, OxyContin can produce a sense of well-being, also called euphoria, and at the same time relieve fear, tension, and anxiety. How? OxyContin can cause a person to feel relaxed and euphoric by affecting the area of the brain that deals with both pain and pleasure sensation. In particular, MU RECEPTORS have a high affinity for opioid drugs and produce analgesia (pain relief) and euphoria when stimulated by OxyContin.

However, if you are using OxyContin exactly as prescribed, the drug is safe, can manage pain effectively, and rarely causes drug addiction. This is because the drug is designed to slowly release oxycodone over time so that you can take the drug less often. But there are ways that people take OxyContin which make euphoric effects more likely. These include injection, snorting, or smoking the drug to get high.

How OxyContin is abused

Problems occur with OxyContin when you get used to the euphoric effect of the drug and try to intensify pleasurable feelings using routes of administration other than doctor’s orders. Most doctors recommend you swallow a whole tablet. But people have adapted new ways of taking OxyContin in order to get high. For example, crushing and snorting, or dissolving and injecting OxyContin results in a much higher and immediate dose of oxycodone … and a very high risk of OxyContin addiction. The same is true if you are taking OxyContin at doses higher than prescribed.

Are you at risk of OxyContin addiction?

If you are taking OxyContin exactly as prescribed and under the supervision of a doctor, you may develop a physical dependence on the drug. And your tolerance for OxyContin may increase, meaning that you need increased doses in order to produce the same pain relief effect. However, this DOES NOT mean that you are addicted to OxyContin. It simply means that if you want to stop taking OxyContin, you will need to go through a period of withdrawal so that your body gets used to life without it.

In contrast, drug addiction to prescription pills like OxyContin is about intention. OxyContin addicts seek the euphoric effects of the drug and use OxyContin for non medical purposes. For more on signs of prescription pill addiction, read here for prescription drug addiction symptoms.

Get help for OxyContin problems

If you think that you have a problem with OxyContin, you do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. And if you want help, the medical community has less and less stigma for prescription pill misuse. In fact, addiction to OxyContin is not a moral issue at all. Doctors can first help you stop taking OxyContin and then help you examine the non medical reasons you use OxyContin. So, the first step is to be honest with yourself and tell someone else. You can do so below, and we will respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference sources: FDA Q&A on OxyContin formula and Consumer Update on OxyContin
Toxnet oxycodone
Missouri State Highway Patrol Drug Chemistry and Classifications for Narcotics
National Drug Intelligence Center OxyContin Fast Facts
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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