Is OxyContin a narcotic?

Yes. OxyContin is a medical and legal narcotic. More on narcotic classifications for OxyContin and its main ingredient, oxycodone, here.

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OxyContin is both a medical narcotic (brings about pain relief) and a legal narcotic.  So is OxyContin same as oxycodone?   More on what a narcotic is here, with room for your questions about OxyContin at the bottom.

OxyContin as a medical narcotic

A narcotic is a medication prescribed primarily for pain relief. Narcotics have a high level of abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.  Some examples  of opiate narcotics include:

  • methadone
  • morphine
  • hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • opium
  • oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin)

In addition to being a narcotic by medical definition, OxyContin is a very powerful and addictive  medication. The only active ingredient in the brand name pain med “OxyContin” is oxycodone, an opioid or opiate antagonist. OxyContin is the only pure form of oxycodone approved for production at this time.  OxyContin stays in system and is designed as a time release version of oxycodone to deliver pain relief for over 12 hours, but it can be detected in urine drug tests for 1-3 days after last use.

OxyContin as a legal narcotic

At the same time that OxyContin is a medical narcotic, it is also a legal narcotic. The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs according to their potential for abuse and dependence. OxyContin is classified as a Schedule II narcotic under the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

Why is OxyContin a Schedule II narcotic?

OxyContin is classified as a Schedule II narcotic because it has a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Drugs under this classification have an accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered, or dispensed for medical use.

Is OxyContin addictive?

On the addictive spectrum, this powerful analgesic ranks close to the very top. OxyContin addictive properties are increased by risk factors such as medical and family history, intention of use, and mode of administration.  Abuse, particularly IV abuse of the drug, increases risk of developing addiction. But you should note here that OxyContin creates a strong physical dependence, with serious withdrawal symptoms even in normal users.  However, psychological dependence, or “seeking the high”, time after time is a characteristic of OxyContin addiction.

It should be noted that here that the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that medically administered opiates for a patient with high levels of pain rarely produce euphoric effects, making legitimate patients less likely to become abusers. The problems lie in overprescribing opiates, and illicit use of the drug.

Should OxyContin narcotic classification Change?

The dramatic increase in prescriptions for OxyContin appears to be a serious problem. Every in the U.S. city hosts suspected, “Oxy Doctors”, who make profit by freely prescribing OxyContin to addicts and patients alike. De Pharma, the creators of this drug, have made numerous attempts to alter the drug’s intake method to prevent abuser from crushing the pills. However, these attempts have be made without success. Drug addicts find the means to divert OxyContin for snorting or injecting.

Given these facts, as well as the alarming statistics on deaths from overdose of OxyContin, it appears that the U.S. Congress may want to revisit OxyContin’s drug’s classification status as a narcotic. Stricter regulations on prescribing seem in order, as do regulation and punishment for over-dosing. What do you think?

OxyContin narcotic questions

Do you still have questions or comments about OxyContin as a narcotic? We invite all feedback and will respond to your comments and questions alike. Please leave your questions below and we will try to answer you with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: Medline Plus encyclopedia topic on oxycodone overdose
DEA drug schedules
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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