OxyContin Substance Abuse In The U.S.: Controlled Substances Act

OxyContin and other prescription drugs are classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration based on factors that include their accepted medical use and their potential for abuse. OxyContin is a narcotic medication that contains oxycodone. OxyContin is widely used for treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is a controlled release medication meant to be taken every 12 hours.

Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. There have been an escalating number of cases of abuse, addiction, overdose and accidental death since OxyContin was introduced to the market in 1996. People who abuse this drug do so for the euphoric effects it can produce.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 established a 5-tiered classification for prescription drugs. It allows the DEA to try and "prevent, detect and investigate the diversion of legally manufactured controlled substances while, at the same time, ensuring that there are adequate supplies to meet the legitimate medical needs in the United States."

Schedules I-V Classify Drugs On Use, Abuse Potential

An example of a Schedule I drug is heroin. This classification means that heroin has no legal, accepted medical use. In addition, it has a very high potential for abuse. LSD and marijuana are also included in this classification. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. In addition to oxycodone, other Schedule II narcotics include opium, morphine and methadone.

Drugs in the Schedule III classification have less abuse potential than those in the first two schedules but can lead to low to moderate dependence. This classification contains drugs that have less than 15 mg of hydrocodone per dosage and opiate replacement medications that contain buprenorphine, such as Subutex and Suboxone. Drugs in Schedules IV and V have a low potential for abuse when compared to drugs in the first three schedules.

Safe Use of OxyContin Is Possible For Those Who Take It As Prescribed

Many people can use OxyContin safely. In fact, it can be a very important part of a pain management program. Any misuse or abuse can be deadly. This is why patients should have their therapy closely monitored by a physician. Any change in the drug's effectiveness or signs of tolerance or dependence should be immediately reported.

A physical OxyContin dependence is natural for people who take this medication on an ongoing basis. OxyContin addiction is much more serious and also indicates the presence of psychological dependence. This is often treated with professional OxyContin detox to help manage the withdrawal phase.