Oxycontin Overdose

What is Oxycontin?

Oxycontin is an opioids narcotic, used as analgesic in severe pain syndrome. Oxycontin is a synthetic derivatives of opium plant. Usually oxycontin is prescribed alone or it is also available with combinations of other narcotics or non-opiate medicines for neurodegenerative disorders or in advanced stage cancer patient or a patient who has severe pain related diseases for prolonged periods. [1]

Side effects of Oxycontin

In normal prescribed dose of the oxycontin possess side effects, which include

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Bemuse
  • Constipation
  • Nausea [1,7]

The mechanism of action of the oxycontin

Oxycontin is an opioids narcotics and acts by stimulating the opioid receptor. The stimulation of the opioid receptors causes activation of the central nervous system and suppress the pain sensation. But in higher dose it can suppress the respiratory center and cause respiratory depression, which can be fatal. [2]

Overdose of oxycontin

The causes of oxycontin overdose

The possible causes of the oxycontin overdose are:

  • The usual reason of the oxycontin overdose has accidentally taken a higher dose than the normal.
  • Unbearable pain insists the patient to take over dosed oxycontin in comparing to the normal.
  • Patient is unaware about the effect of the overdose of the oxycontin and intent to take experimentally
  • Intentionally patient wants to hurt herself/himself.

It is not sure that only above mentioned reasons are responsible for oxycontin overdose, but may some other unknown cause also influences individual to take oxycontin overdose. [3,4]

Sign and symptoms of oxycontin overdose

Usually the oxycontin overdose affects the every physiological system of the body and if medical attention is not provided to the affected individual or any types of ignorance can cause death of the patient.

  • Eye – constricted pupil size
  • GI tract – nausea, vomiting, abdominal spasm and constipation
  • Cardiovascular system – Hypotension (low BP), pulse becomes weak,
  • Nervous system – stupor, seizure attacks and coma
  • Respiratory system – breathing difficulty, slow breathing rate, laborious breathing, rapid short breathing, hyperventilation (rapid deep breathing and finally cessation of breathing.
  • Dermis – cyanosis in lips and finger beds. [2]

The onset of overdose effect

Depending upon the way of administering the oxycontin, the onset of effect differs. Usually prescribed form of oxycontin, which also available in the name of the oycondone product is coated tablet or capsule form. The coated tablets of oxycontin are preferable due to its sustained action and instructed to ingest whole of the tablet at a time.

But due to its addictive effect, individuals can take by crushing, breaking or chewing the tablet, which provide overdose of the oxycontin and fatal effect can arise. Usually the extensive overdose effect is started 8 hours after the intake of the medication, though it may fast for removal of the coating of  the tablet. Initially it provides euphoric effect, but in the latter stage, the dangerous overdose effects are started.

OxyContin is a marked name of the oxycodone products. It is recommended that to take the whole of the OxyContin for therapeutic purpose, though abusers administer OxyContin in different ways, such as crushing or chewing the tablet in the oral cavity, or  inhale the powdered OxyContin, as used as snort or inject the water soluble OxyContin solution.

These alternative routes of administration provide rapid  onset of action as the peak concentration level reached quickly and the intensity of action is also more due to increase bioavailability.  All these factors positively influence the risk of overdose. [3,4,5]

The quantity of OxyContin cause overdose

Depending upon the duration of taking the same or related narcotic drugs influences the quantity of OxyContin, which can cause an overdose effect. Physiological tolerance differs from individual to individual, thus it affects OxyContin overdose effect. Usually inexperienced users are more prevalent towards OxyContin overdose, even at the low dose quantity, whereas the same quantity may not provide any affect towards the chronic users of narcotic or those recently treated with opioid drugs.

For example, like any native users 60 mg tablet can produce dangerous effects in inexperienced users, but may chronic users can tolerate more dose without having any effect. It has been observed that 40mg OxyContin in single dose or 80 mg daily dose provide great hazardous effective like respiratory depression for new experience holders.

Therefore, if the drug is prescribed by the doctor for therapeutic use, should follow the provided instructions, even any onset of discomfort due physiological intolerance should discuss immediately with a doctor. The different dosage strength is available, including 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, and 80 mg tablets. Usually the dose increases step-wise due to the development of the tolerance, the selection of dose depends upon age, weight, general health, and concurrent-medications. [3,4]

Withdrawal effects of OxyContin

OxyContin is a habit forming drug and should be avoided from chronic using. Chronic users or abusers often suffer from dangerous side effects of OxyContin, which require to stop using the drug for further. But it is notable that the stopping of OxyContin is not an easy task.

OxyContin addiction always insisting affected users to take the OxyContin and the restriction can negatively impact on their daily life activity. Therefore, usually person cannot stop OxyContin administration of their own. Rehabilitation centers are spread worldwide and initiated different programs for addicted people.

Different rehabilitation programs are available to reduce the discomfort associated with leaving the OxyContin. These program insisting the real recovery.

The healthcare staffs of the rehabilitation centers often try to recover all the mental and physical harm related to OxyContin use and also motivate them how users can restrict them from using the OxyContin and remain safe for the rest of the life. Doctors always gradually decreasing the dose and finally stop the drug. This stepwise process is followed for minimizing the withdrawal effect. [3,4,5]


Immediate treatment should start after the appearance of the overdose symptoms. Usually naloxone is the drug of choice to treat an overdose effect. Naloxone is an antagonist of opioid and acts by blocking the opioid receptors. Therefore, after injecting the naloxone, opioid action is starting to diminish.

Naloxone is fast acting drug and the effect starts within a few minutes and preceding for 45 minutes. In maximum cases, multiple dose is required to improve the patient condition.

The supportive treatment may also introduce to combat the CNS and respiratory depression. Laxative is also sometimes prescribed for quick excretion of all metabolite products of OxyContin. Intravenous fluid administration is required to balance the physiological condition. Vital sign of the patient should be monitored with regular interval till patient not stabilized. [1,6]

Restriction of OxyContin use

The overdose of OxyContin increases the mortality rate. In 2010, for controlling the situation, FDA instructs Purdue Pharma the manufacturer of OxyContin, to modify the formulation of the drug. The manufacturing company now prepares harder OxyContin tablet, which can’t be crushed or dissolved. But, abusers are still taking more number of doses for addiction purpose. [5]


  1. Oxycontin; Retrieve from: http://www.rxlist.com/oxycontin-drug/overdosage-contraindications.htmJacob L. Heller, (2015); Hydrocodone/oxycodone overdose; Retrieve from:https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007285.htm
  2. Can you overdose (OD) on OxyContin? (2012); Retrieve from: http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/can-you-overdose-od-on-oxycontin/
  3. OxyContin overdose: How much amount of OxyContin to OD? (2012); Retrieve from:http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/oxycontin-overdose-how-much-amount-of-oxycontin-to-od/
  4. Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Abuse; Retrieve from: http://www.narconon.org/drug-abuse/signs-symptoms-oxycodone.html
  5. Oxycodone Overdose Symptoms and Treatment; Retrieve from: http://www.projectknow.com/research/oxycodone-overdose/
  6. OxyContin Overdose; Retrieve from: http://www.drug-overdose.com/oxycontin.htm

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