Oxycontin: History, Uses, Side Effects, and Withdrawal

How effective is Oxycontin at controlling chronic pain? Do the dangers of this drug outweigh its benefits?


Oxycontin's active ingredient, Oxycodone, was created by German scientists in 1916, shortly after the pharmeceutical companies discontinued the production of heroin as cure-all drug. The first European medications containing Oxycodone were Eukodol, Eucodol, and Dinarkon; these drugs were originally thought to be less addictive, safer, and more efficient at treating pain than heroin.

Oxycodone drugs were first introduced to the US market in early May of 1939.

The exact year of the creation and release of Oxycontin (time-released Oxycodone) is difficult to find, though it is believed to have been originally prescribed in the early 1990's.

It would be many years later before Oxycodone drugs reached dangerous popularity, contributed to a prescription drug abuse epidemic, and its addictive values were obviously seen.


Oxycontin and all Oxycodone drugs are intended only for the treatment of chronic and severe pain. Oxycontin is usually prescribed to cancer patients, individuals suffering from extreme chronic pain issues such as arthritis and degenerative diseases, and those undergoing extensive surgery such as shoulder or hip replacement.

Side Effects

Oxycontin is a very powerful drug and comes with a wide array of possible side effects, such as: constipation, dry mouth, itching of the face and skin, dimness in vision, nausea, light headedness, dizziness, inability to stay awake, insomnia, decreased heart rate, loss of appetite, hiccups, nervousness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, impotence, loss of sexual drive, enlarged prostate gland, and a decrease in the production of testosterone.

In high doses, to individuals without a tolerance to opioid narcotics, or in the event of an overdose, common side effects include: slow and weak heart rate, inability to locate pulse, shallow and labored breathing, extremely dilated pupils, and cold and clammy skin.


Like all opioid narcotic medications, use of Oxycontin and other Oxycodone medications can easily lead to physical and psychological addiction. Physicians believe that addiction can begin in as little as one or two weeks of use. Even patients following prescriber's recommended dosing instructions are at serious risk for developing a dependency and addiction to these powerful drugs.

Symptoms of Oxycontin withdrawal include: seizure, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, heavy sweating, high blood pressure, "creepy crawly" sensations in limbs, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability, depression, fever, muscle and skeletal pain, flu-like symptoms, and even suicidal thoughts.

The strength of Oxycodone drugs is phenomenal and the withdrawal symptoms are excruciating to users, thus leading to crimes such as robbery, theft, and prescription fraud.

Most general practitioners and physicians have stopped prescribing Oxycontin. Chronic pain sufferers must generally visit a Pain Management Specialist in order to receive medications of this magnitude.

Addicts and dealers are known to "doctor shop", which is visiting multiple physicians until one agrees to prescribe their desired drug, for prescriptions of Oxycontin and Oxycodone medications.

Now that you've learned all about the possible outcomes of using strong opioid narcotics such as Oxycontin, do you feel that the benefits that pain patients receive from these medications are worth all of the addiction and misery this drug has created? Perhaps that is not for you or I to answer, but Oxycontin has clearly left its mark on modern day society.



Published by Mallory Collier

Born and raised in Indiana, Mallory enjoys writing about a variety of topics. From medical conditions, drugs and medications to pet care and beauty how-to pieces, she likes to produce a fact- or experienced...  View profile