Is OxyContin an Opiate? Facts About Opioids

Opioids are in the national spotlight right, as millions of people report using them and often abusing them, and thousands of Americans die each year from opioid overdoses. The following are some key facts about opioids:

  • Estimates are showing that overdose deaths from drugs will probably be more than 59,000 for the year of 2016, representing the biggest ever increase in the U.S., based on information from The New York Times
  • The large number of overdose deaths is primarily related to opioids including OxyContin and heroin
  • The estimate is that the number of deaths related to drug overdoses rose 19 percent from 2015 to 2016, and it looks like there’s set to be another increase for 2017
  • Some of the areas where there were the biggest spikes in overdose deaths included the East Coast states like Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine
  • Opioids are prescribed for pain, both acute and chronic, but heroin is also an opioid
  • New and incredibly potent and deadly opioids have also hit the market in large numbers recently including fentanyl
  • Opioids usually come in pill form, unless it’s heroin, and they are crushed into powder and snorted and injected often
  • Opioids can lead to a euphoric high, and also addiction and dependence

So, is OxyContin an opiate? We’ll go into details about opiates vs. opioids and specifics of OxyContin below.

Is OxyContin an Opiate? Facts About Opioids
The term opiate technical refers to naturally-derived substances that come from opium. Some true opiates are morphine and codeine, but the terms opiate and opioid are often used interchangeably. Opioids can be synthetic or semi-synthetic, but they function like opiates.

In strictest terms, when looking at is OxyContin an opiate, it’s not. Instead, OxyContin is better classified as an opioid because it is semi-synthetic, as are other similar drugs like hydrocodone. Synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids are derived from natural opiates, but also are partially synthesized.

There really isn’t much of a difference between opiates and opioids, and there’s rarely a distinction made at this point. These substances whether derived from opium, semi-synthetic or synthetic have similar side effects to one another, and similar overall effects. The only difference is that the opiate heroin is illegal while the other opioids are available only by prescription and are Schedule II substances in the U.S.

Another term frequently used when describing opiates and opioids are narcotics. Opioids are technically classified as narcotics.

So, is OxyContin an opiate? No, it is a semi-synthetic opioid, however, which is similar.

Other prescription opioids include methadone, Demerol, and Dilaudid, among many others.

OxyContin is the brand name of the opioid oxycodone. This semi-synthetic opioid is intended to treat moderate to severe pain, and OxyContin is actually a controlled-release version of the drug. Oxycodone is also available in combination drugs such as Percocet.

OxyContin is one of the most abused of all the prescription opioids because people can crush it and dissolve it to inject or snort it. The result is a rapid, powerful high because the entire extended release medicine affects the person at one time.

There are quite a few risks associated with the use of opioids like OxyContin. Some of the risks are side effects such as nausea and drowsiness, but one of the biggest is the risk of abuse and addiction. From heroin to prescription opioids, these substances pose a high risk of addiction.

Of course, there are some people who can take opioids like OxyContin safely and as prescribed by their doctor and then stop using them easily when they’re instructed to. At the same time, other people find that they enjoy the physical and emotional effects of taking the drug and they develop an addiction, or they’re physically dependent on the presence of the drugs to feel “normal.”

It’s important for people to realize that with any opioid or opiate including OxyContin, there is always the potential for abuse and addiction. The use of these drugs should be entered into cautiously and only following direction from a physician. They should never be taken without a prescription, or taken outside of the ways directed.

Is OxyContin an Opiate? Facts About Opioids
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