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If you are using OxyContin, you run a high risk of addiction. Known as “hillbilly heroin,” it is a drug that’s not only as strong as heroin, but it also affects the brain in much the same way. When there is a concern that someone has become addicted, it is important to get treatment, including addiction counseling. To encourage this decision and improve your chances of success, it is helpful to know something about OxyContin history. Understanding how and why it is a problem is helpful to not only yourself, but it can also help family members understand the need to find the right care by seeking out treatment centers staffed by highly trained professionals.

3 Minute Read | Published Jan 18 2024 | Updated Jan 18 2024

The history of OxyContin starts with oxycodone, a powerful opioid painkiller. Oxycodone, which was created in 1916 and arrived in America in 1939, was meant to be an alternative to addictive drugs such as morphine. Unfortunately, despite its effectiveness at fighting pain, it was found to cause high rates of abuse and addiction in those who used it. In the 1970s, the Controlled Substances Act labeled oxycodone a Schedule II drug.

In December 1995, OxyContin received FDA approval for the relief of “moderate to severe-level pain where an opioid analgesic is appropriate for more than a few days.” The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, debuted OxyContin, a time-released tablet with oxycodone as the active ingredient, the following year. Because the drug is time-released, it was meant to reduce the risk of addiction and abuse. Although the instructions specified not to crush, chew, or break the pill, as it would cause rapid release, the rush that came from this inappropriate usage proved irresistible to many.

In 2000, reports of the rising illicit use and abuse of OxyContin began to surface. Around this time in OxyContin history, in 2001, it also became the best-selling narcotic pain reliever in the U.S. Initially the increase in addiction occurred in rural areas, in states such as Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, which also noted a significant number of OxyContin-related deaths. As a result, the manufacturer faced lawsuits, not only for the drug’s addictive nature but for its aggressive promotion of the drug. Purdue Pharma had begun to promote the drug to primary care providers and recommend its prescription for less-severe pain than intended. Other lawsuits charged the manufacturer with falsely representing the drug’s potential for abuse. As a result of these lawsuits, the manufacturer paid fines and made changes to the labeling.

Understanding some of the history of OxyContin is just a step in getting the help that’s needed to overcome addiction or support someone who is in need of it. The next step in getting the care that you need is to find a treatment center that not only offers cost-effective, individualized care but will make you feel safe and comfortable throughout the process. BetterAddictionCare can assist you in getting the help you need to start healing. We work with a nationwide recovery network of treatment centers that provide individualized detox and rehab services. Call today to speak with a counselor, or fill out our contact form to sign up for our newsletter.


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