A map of America with oxy pills on it

The Opioid Epidemic took the lives of over 48,000 people in the year 2017 alone. While the nation focuses on heroin and fentanyl in relation to the Opioid Epidemic, the reality is that approximately 35% of these deaths were due directly to prescription painkillers, such as the popular medication OxyContin. (1)

Despite these dangers, OxyContin and other medications containing the same drug ranked the 54th most common prescription in the United States so far this year. (2)

Here we take a look at OxyContin abuse and addiction.

What is OxyContin?

OxyContin is a medication used for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic pain. OxyContin deathOxyContin is an extended-release version of oxycodone, which it releases over the course of 10-12 hours. Oxycontin comes in a variety of doses, ranging from 10mg up to 80mg. (3)

OxyContin and the Opioid Epidemic

OxyContin has frequently been cited as a major contributing factor to the Opioid Epidemic that continues to plague the nation today. The manufacturer Purdue has been accused of significantly downplaying the risks of using the medication long-term. (4)

Since 1999, over 200,000 Americans have died of drug overdoses related to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin. It is estimated that four out of five people who try heroin originally started their addiction with prescription painkillers. (5)

So why was OxyContin a major spark of the Opioid Epidemic?

OxyContin provided the catalyst for what would become the Opioid Epidemic for several reasons. First, the manufacturer Purdue aggressively marketed the drug as a safer alternative to morphine to doctors. The drug ultimately became extremely common in medicine, which in turn meant OxyContin availability greatly increased. (6)

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To make matters worse, users were easily able to defeat OxyContin’s original extended-release mechanism. This allowed the entire dosage of the drug to be ingested at once. It was not until 2010 that Purdue attempted to make OxyContin’s release mechanism harder to abuse. (7)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://clincalc.com/DrugStats/Top300Drugs.aspx
  3. https://www.rxlist.com/oxycontin-drug.htm#description
  4. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/drugs-opioid-oxycontin-drug-addiction-patent-new-drug-richard-sackler-a8529711.html
  5. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/10/30/the-family-that-built-an-empire-of-pain
  6. http://time.com/5520159/purdue-pharma-lawsuits/
  7. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/4/16/17234008/opioid-crisis-oxycontin-abuse-deterrent-heroin