OxyContin is classified as an opioid agonist due to its Oxycodone content which is a Schedule II drug. It is prescribed for a continuous and long-term management of moderate to severe pain for patients with an established tolerance to an opiate of equivalent potency. Statistics showed that it is one of the most commonly used prescription drugs in the country. In a study conducted by NIDA in 2010, 5.1% of the students in 12th grade abused OxyContin.

How oxycontin affects your health depends on dosage, drug administration, and existing medical conditions. The following are the effects of Oxycontin on major body systems:
Nervous System

The common side effects of Oxycontin to the CNS include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth

For patients with Addison’s disease

Doctors exercise caution in prescribing Oxycontin to individuals with Adrenal insufficiency because administration of this drug can cause the following:

Respiratory depression
Increases the possibility of prolonged CNS depression related to opioid use
For patients with brain injury

Mechanical ventilation is required before opiate agonists like Oxycontin can be administered. Otherwise, oxycontin will cause hypoventilation that induces vasodilation and cerebral hypoxia. As a result, the patient may experience the following:

  • Increased intracranial pressure
  • Alteration in the CNS functions including consciousness, pupil movements and respiration


Some of the usual side effects of Oxycontin on the GI tract include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

For patients with colon cancer and esophageal cancer
Patients may complain of:

  • Difficulty in swallowing Oxycontin tablet
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Exacerbation of diverticulitis
  • For patients with Impaired GI motility

Oxycontin decreases peristalsis and increases the smooth muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the patient may experience:

  • Elevated intraluminal pressure
  • Spasm
  • Constipation
  • Toxic megacolon for individuals suffering from acute or severe inflammatory bowel disease due to the decrease in the motility of the colon
  • Aggravates symptoms of infectious diarrhea


Rapid administration or high dosage of oxycontin may cause:

  • Apnea
  • Anoxia
  • Chronic pulmonary insufficiency
  • Hypercapnia
  • Hypoxia
  • Rigidity of respiratory muscles
  • Sleep apnea
  • Upper airway obstruction


Oxycontin is significantly metabolized by the liver. Its serum concentration may be increased in patients with a liver condition.


At a therapeutic dosage, Oxycontin may cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Hypotension

If administered rapidly or in elevated dosage, it can lead to:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Shock
  • Vasodilatation

Due to the cholinergic activity of Oxycontin, its increased dosage or rapid administration may produce the following:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Bradycardia


Patients with renal impairment may alter the elimination of Oxycontin and its metabolites which may result to the following:

  • Drug accumulation
  • Greater risk of toxicity


Some of the withdrawal effects of Oxycontin include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Restlessness

In spite of Oxycontin’s adverse effects, statistics showed that almost 1 in 20 high school seniors abused OxyContin. NSDUH also estimated that approximately 1.9 million individuals in the country abuse or suffer from chemical dependence on prescription opioids.

For more information on how oxycontin affects your health, contact the nearest addiction specialist in your area.


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