OxyContin is a slow- or time-release formulation of the prescription pain medicine oxycodone. OxyContin will slowly release for 12 hours to help ease chronic pain.
Since the effects of most opioids last between two to six hours, the long duration is what makes OxyContin unique when compared with other opioids. OxyContin is very effective at treating chronic pain, but its long-acting formulation makes it easy to abuse.
Table of Contents
How Does OxyContin Get You High?
If someone takes OxyContin as directed for pain, there is usually no high, due to its extended-release function. People with severe pain may feel high the first time using an opioid, but the high quickly fades.
However, OxyContin can generate a high if it is abused. OxyContin changes how the brain processes pain. When people take OxyContin in high doses or outside the directions of their prescription, they experience a high marked by euphoria or a sense of well-being.
OxyContin tablets should be taken whole and never crushed, opened or broken. An OxyContin high is comparable to a heroin high because the drugs work in the same way. However, to get high from OxyContin, a person has to break the time-release mechanism by:
The Risks of Getting High on OxyContin
The first experience of taking OxyContin will probably be more pleasant than any other time a person uses the drug. When someone tries to replicate that first time, the process is commonly referred to as “chasing the high.” Most people report they never feel as good as the first time they experienced the high.
People may attempt to prolong their high by mixing OxyContin with other substances like alcohol. When someone mixes Oxycontin and alcohol together, they feel a pleasurable high, but the mixture is more dangerous than either drug is on its own.
Some studies found trends among people who use opioids for the first time regarding whether they developed an addiction. A 2011 study identified a group of people who became addicted to opioids after using them first for chronic pain. Researchers gave the subjects a questionnaire and asked how they felt while on opioids. People in the study may not have been using OxyContin or oxycodone, but all opioids generally provide individuals with the same, euphoric experience.
During their first opioid high, the people agreed that they felt:
- A pleasant emptiness
- Less discouraged than usual
- More content, but they were afraid to lose that feeling
- As if something pleasant just happened
- They felt happy all the time
- Things around them felt more pleasing
Such feelings can easily cause people to desire more of the drug. Taking more of the drug than prescribed is abuse, which can quickly lead to addiction developing.
Bieber, Corey M., et al. “Retrospective Accounts of Initial Subjective Effects of Opioids in Patients Treated for Pain Who Do or Do Not Develop Opioid Addiction: A Pilot Case-Control Study.” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2008. Accessed May 30, 2019.
American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders : DSM-5.” Print, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2019.
Food and Drug Administration. “Medication Guide OXYCONTIN.” 2015. Accessed May 30, 2019.
MedlinePlus. “Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” 2016. Accessed June 7, 2019.
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. “Rates of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Overdose Deaths Remain High in Many States, CDC Indicates | National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.” 2016. Accessed May 30, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.