OxyContin® is a brand name for the opioid drug oxycodone hydrochloride. Oxycodone is what is known as an “opiate agonist,” meaning that it stimulates the activity of the opioid receptors. Oxycodone is also a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means that it slows the activity of the brain and body. Functions affected by CNS depressants include respiration (breathing), heart rate, and digestion, along with pain messages.
Tolerance to oxycodone builds up quickly. This means that users, whether real patients or drug abusers, soon need more of the drug to have the outcome they are used to having. For a patient with real pain, the doctor can increase the prescription as needed to meet the pain needs. If the source of the pain is cured, the doctor will help the patient gradually decrease the amount of the drug he or she takes, to avoid painful physical withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone abusers also experience rapidly increasing tolerance, but no doctor is overseeing the amount of the drug they take. As a result, drug abusers increase the amount of the drug they take to deadly levels. Soon, there is practically no amount of the drug they can take that will produce the euphoria they had been used to. Oxycodone abusers, like other drug abusers, find themselves taking large amounts of the drug only to avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms, not to feel pleasure.