Oxycontin Side Effects

by pgh on February 18, 2014

abuse of oxycontin Oxycontin use affects your body in many ways.

Prescription pain relievers like Oxycontin are commonly used in the treatment of back pain, pain resulting from medical conditions as well as pain caused by injury. When taken for short periods of time, Oxycontin effects pose little risk of dependency or addiction. With long-term use, users start to experience Oxycontin side effects as the body becomes increasingly dependent on the drug.

Oxycontin effects on the brain lie at the heart of dependency and eventual addiction problems. For people with existing medical and/or psychological conditions, Oxycontin effects can be even more dangerous whether used on a short-term or long-term basis.

Oxycontin Effects

People who suffer from moderate to severe pain conditions will likely be prescribed a pain relief medication. Oxycontin is commonly used to relieve around the clock pain symptoms. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oxycontin effects work by muffling pain signals throughout the body’s central nervous system.

When combined with other pain relieving agents, Oxycontin goes by a number of different names.

  • Endocet (acetaminophen added)
  • Percocet (acetaminophen added)
  • Percodan (aspirin added)
  • Roxiprin (aspirin added)
  • Combunox (ibuprofen added)

Prescription pain medications belong to a class of drugs known as opiates. The chemical make-up of opiates closely resembles that of the body’s natural pain relieving chemicals, also known as endorphins. This similarity accounts for why the body so easily develops a dependency on Oxycontin effects.

Once the body becomes dependent, this lays the groundwork for Oxycontin side effects to take shape. Oxycontin side effects include –

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Feelings of calm and well-being
  • Lethargic state
  • Light-headedness

As the body develops a dependency on, the central nervous system becomes less sensitive to Oxycontin effects. For this reason, prescribed dosage amounts will likely increase the longer a person remains on the drug.

Oxycontin Effects on the Brain

Oxycontin effects begin in the brain. Certain brain cell receptor sites respond to Oxycontin in the same way they respond to the brain’s own neurotransmitter chemicals. Upon contact, these sites secrete large amounts of dopamine chemicals, which in turn offset other neurotransmitter chemical levels.

The brain has a self-regulating mechanism that responds to Oxycontin effects by reducing its own neurotransmitter chemical output. With ongoing drug use, the brain can no longer regulate bodily processes, such as respiration, digestion cognition and movement without the drug’s effects.

Oxycontin side effects start to develop when needed doses of Oxycontin are lacking. When a person reduces dosage amounts or stops taking the drug altogether, Oxycontin side effects take the form of withdrawal symptoms, some of which include –

  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Depression symptoms
  • Dizziness

In effect, Oxycontin gradually alters the brain’s chemistry to the point where brain functions grow weaker with continued use. At this point, a person will continue taking the drug in order to gain relief from withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, Oxycontin side effects trigger the vicious cycle of dependency that inevitably turns into addiction.

Long-Term Oxycontin Side Effects

Oxycontin effects on the central nervous system can bring about a range of long-term side effects. Oxycontin effects on brain regions that regulate breathing functions can leave a person with irregular breathing patterns over time. Irregular breathing patterns deplete the body of needed oxygen supplies, which contributes to weakened cells and tissues and higher risks for sickness and disease.

Oxycontin effects on neurotransmitter levels in the brain can create widespread chemical imbalances that weaken brain structures and eventually alter the actual structures themselves. Over time, a person may start to develop psychological disorders as chemical levels in the brain fall further and further off balance. For chronic drug users, psychological disorders involving depression and anxiety can easily give way to psychoses. At this point, conditions involving hallucinations, delusions and paranoia start to take root in the brain.

As the central nervous system plays a central role in regulating heart function, Oxycontin side effects will continue to depress heart rate functions with ongoing use. A person can easily develop a condition known as bradycardia where the heart rate remains at an abnormally low level. This condition inevitably affects a person’s blood pressure levels at which point the risk of heart failure increases considerably.


Oxycontin side effects can develop in cases where a person has existing medical conditions that have already weakened certain systems in the body. For example, someone who has an asthma condition can quickly go into respiratory failure when ingesting Oxycontin on a regular basis. People suffering from lung disease are also at risk. Older adults can also experience dangerous Oxycontin side effects.

Signs of respiratory failure may appear as –

  • Shortness of breath
  • Slowed breathing patterns
  • Unusually long pauses between breaths

As Oxycontin effects naturally slow central nervous system functions, using the drug while drinking alcohol or combining Oxycontin with other central nervous system depressant drugs can also lead to respiratory and/or heart failure.

Interactions with other types of medication can alter the rate in which the body metabolizes Oxycontin or can reinforce Oxycontin effects. When this happens, coma, seizures, heart failure or respiratory failure can result.

Medications known to reinforce Oxycontin effects include –

  • Sleeping pills
  • Sedatives
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-depressant medications
  • Seizure medication
  • Anti-anxiety medications

Addiction Potential

An Oxycontin tablet is designed to have a slow-acting effect that provides ongoing pain relief for up to 12 hours. Recreational users rather crush the drug into small pieces and snort or inject it intravenously. By doing so, the full effects of the drug can be felt all at once.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Oxycontin has the same addiction potential as morphine. In effect, the stronger the opiate the faster the brain becomes dependent on the drug. Dependency sets off a vicious cycle in which withdrawal effects prompt users to keep using while brain functions grow progressively weaker with time.

Oxycontin effects and Oxycontin side effects continue to reinforce this cycle until addiction takes root. Once addicted, a person not only believes he or she needs Oxycontin effects to make it through the day, but has also developed a lifestyle that centers around getting and using the drug.

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