OxyContin is a highly potent painkiller that happens to be among the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the country. In 2013, there were 53 million oxycodone prescriptions filled in the US. This translates to one bottle for every six people in the country. The Monitoring the Future Survey found that one in 30 high school seniors has abused OxyContin at least once.
The rise in overdose and abuse cases has brought some interest in OxyContin, its legality, and what happens if you’re found in possession of it. After all, oxycodone is a prescription painkiller that your physician must recommend. Read on to learn about the legality of OxyContin use and what happens when you get caught with oxycodone.
What Is OxyContin
OxyContin is the brand name for the narcotic oxycodone, a painkiller available in the United States only by prescription. It’s used to help relieve severe ongoing pain resulting from injuries, arthritis, and cancer. The main active ingredient, oxycodone, belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids. They work in the brain to change the body’s reaction to pain.
Is OxyContin Legal?
When used on a legitimate prescription basis, OxyContin is legal. However, it’s still classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which means it has recognized medical uses, but a high potential for abuse.
Still, doctors and pharmacists must follow strict record-keeping practices when prescribing and dispensing OxyContin. Also, there are criminal penalties for illegally possessing and distributing OxyContin. Anyone caught with oxycodone without a valid prescription could face legal penalties.
Right now, under federal drug laws, someone could face up to 20 years in prison and over $1 million fines for trafficking and distributing oxycodone illegally. Other illegal actions, because it’s a controlled substance, include forging signatures on prescriptions, stealing from medicine cabinets, and doctor shopping to obtain the drug.
Getting Caught With OxyContin
OxyContin is legally available in the United States with a prescription. However, possession, use, and distribution without a prescription remain illegal. On the streets, it’s easy to find oxycodone and its derivatives without a prescription. State-level penalties for oxycodone-related offenses go from misdemeanors to felony charges. While legal action depends significantly on the situation, these are some of the most common ones.
Without My Prescription
If you’re caught with OxyContin without a prescription or possess more than your amount prescribed, you could face misdemeanor or federal charges. Even if you have a prescription, carrying the pills outside the bottle, in many states, is considered a criminal offense.
With Someone Else’s Prescription
Possession of a controlled substance is illegal without a prescription. As such, getting caught with an OxyContin prescription not directly prescribed to you is a serious criminal offense. Having someone else’s prescription can include penalties of six months in prison or more.
Under the Influence
OxyContin criminal offenses are not limited to distribution, trafficking, and possession. Getting caught under the influence of oxycodone can also lead to issues. Oxycodone is detectable in many drug tests. A urine test can show levels of oxycodone for up to four days after the last use, and hair follicle tests can produce positive results for up to 90 days.
Dangers of Misusing OxyContin
Most OxyContin tablets have a controlled-release mechanism so that users can swallow the pills whole. However, abusers try to chew or crush the tablets to snort or inject oxycodone in the hopes of experiencing a more intense high. Individuals who misuse oxycodone can develop a tolerance, which means they’ll have to increase their doses to achieve the same effects.
Long-term abuse of OxycContin can lead to addiction, which might cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Even people who try to quit the substance after becoming addicted are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms such as panic attacks, anxiety, muscle weakness, fever, and flu-like symptoms.
Another danger of OxyContin lies in the formulations. They may contain other analgesics or compounds like acetaminophen and other substances that could cause liver damage and potentially death.
Of course, the most significant danger of misusing OxyContin is overdose. When someone overdoses, they’ll experience extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, vomiting, shallow breathing, and even death. It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately in the case of an oxycodone overdose.
Seeking Help for Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription painkiller addiction, please know help is available. Recovery from oxycodone addiction is possible through a personalized treatment plan that adapts to your needs and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Take the first step toward recovery today and find the right path to long-lasting sobriety.