OxyCotton/OxyCotin/OxyContin: Does time release inhibit abuse?

Oxycotton is a common misspelling of the brand name drug “OxyContin.” Do addicts abuse Oxy’s? And how can this opioid drug be less attractive for misuse? More on time release and addictive qualities of OxyContin from Dr. Burson here.

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Oxycotton is OxyContin

The word “oxycotton” is a common mispronunciation and misspelling of the brand name drug “OxyContin.”

This pill contains oxycodone, enclosed in a time-release coating. Initially, the pill came in strengths of 20mg, 40mg, 80mg, and 160mg. After 2001, the company who produces OxyContin (Purdue Pharma) stopped distributing the 160mg pills in the U.S., due to risks of overdose from illicit use.

OxyContin has opioid strength

OxyContin is by no means the only opioid that’s abused. In fact, hydrocodone is the most frequently abused prescription opioid. But with OxyContin, there’s more opioid firepower per pill. One forty- milligram OxyContin pill contains more opioid wallop than four of the ten milligram hydrocodone pills.

Does time release coating stop OxyContin addicts?

The drug manufacturer of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, initially believed their time-release coating would make the drug unattractive for addicts. Addicts crave the euphoria, or “rush” they get from a large dose of opioid slamming into the pleasure centers of the brain all at once. The euphoria isn’t as intense with a time-release medication, and thus not as enjoyable. Unfortunately, creative addicts found ways to remove the time-release coating from OxyContin, and crush the pills to snort or inject. When misused this way, the drug is obviously more dangerous, and much more likely to cause an overdose death.

OxyContin addiction is the problem, not the drug

Even though people abuse OxyContin, OxyContin isn’t a bad or evil drug. For many people who suffer from pain, it’s been a godsend. And yet, it has harmed many addicts, and their families. Like most strong medications, it can be used for great good or great evil. OxyContin isn’t the problem: addiction is the problem. But technology can help make strong prescription opioids less desirable to addicts, and to reduce the risk of addiction. Next week, we’ll explore the new OxyContin formula and if it’s helping stop addicts from snorting or shooting OxyContin.

About the author
Jana Burson M.D. is board-certified in Internal medicine, and certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. After practicing primary care for many years, she became interested in the treatment of addiction. For the last six years, her practice has focused exclusively on Addiction Medicine. She has written a book about prescription pain pill addiction: "Pain Pill Addiction: Prescription for Hope." Also see Dr. Burson's blog here.


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  1. I don’t suggest anyone getting on a regular regiment of pain pills. It is to easy to get addicted to oxycontin and I know from experience. I was on them for nearly 10 years and one day the dr. said he no longer wanted to supply his services to me and for no reason. I was thrown to the wolves with no pain meds. I went into withdrawals bad and I never would have thought I was addicted. I still take pain meds but not every day, maybe a week at a time. The longer you take them the worse the withdrawals.

  2. I currently take 10mg OxyContin 3 times daily for severe chronic pain. I have been taking this dose for almost a year and have noticed less pain relief. Is it safe to periodically lower my dose, or not take any on days that I can stay in bed and tolerate pain, in order to have my medication work well when I need it to, for example not taking it on weekends so it works during the workweek so I can get my work done without being in agony?

    1. Hi Angie. Your tolerance has grown during this past year, so the medication is no longer producing the same pain relief as it used to. Stopping only during the weekends will not help it work better during the week, but it will only throw you in a very uncomfortable withdrawal state. If you are lowering the doses frequently you can expect your pain not to be managed during the entire period of dose-reducing. I suggest you speak with your doctor about upping your dose or putting you on another medication that will successfully manage your pain.

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