Dangers of Shooting OxyContin (Oxycodone)
There are several ways to administer and abuse prescription drugs. Some people swallow them, others crush and snort them, and some inject drugs directly into their veins. IV drug use, both into the muscle or a vein, delivers substances directly to the bloodstream. This produces a near-instant high and a “rush” that many drug users crave.
Many opioid drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone) are meant to be swallowed and slowly absorbed into the system, allowing the effects to last a long period of time. Shooting up Oxycontin, however, causes a faster and more intense high without forcing individuals to wait for the drug to absorb into their bloodstream. However, injecting any drug, including those that contain oxycodone, is extremely dangerous and comes with devastating consequences.
Just a few dangers of injecting OxyContin include:
- Bacterial build-up on cardiac valves
- Damaged veins
- Cardiovascular infection
- Skin infections
- Track marks on arms, legs, and other injection sites
- Swelling due to poor blood flow
- Increased overdose risk
IV drug use also places individuals on a sure-fire path towards drug dependence and addiction.
What is OxyContin (Oxycodone)?
OxyContin is a brand-name prescription drug containing oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid pain reliever that can also be found in Roxicodone, Oxydose, and Endocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen). Medications that contain oxycodone are used to treat moderate to severe pain, however, they have a risk for abuse, dependence, and overdose.
OxyContin, in particular, is an extended-release opioid that is intended to be swallowed. Today, this extended-release formula has changed to contain tamper-proof fillers that turn the drug into a gel-like substance when crushed, discouraging users from snorting or shooting OxyContin. However, some crafty drug users have found ways to get around these tamper-resistant features, allowing them to inject the drug.
Oxycodone also comes in immediate-release tablets. These are most commonly injected today due to the extended-release features of brand-name OxyContin.
Why Do People Inject OxyContin/Oxycodone?
Even though the extended-release formulation of OxyContin is tamper-proof, some people still inject it and other oxycodone-containing substances. While the majority of drug users begin using drugs by swallowing, smoking, or snorting them, these methods of administration take a few minutes to an hour to produce effects. This means drug users have to wait some length of time before they get high.
Over time, people who abuse opioid medications develop a tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the body gets used to having a substance in the system. Over time, oxycodone users will have to increase their dose to feel the same effects as before. One way individuals keep up with their tolerance is by graduating from snorting or smoking drugs to shooting them. This is because IV drug use tends to produce a faster, more intense high.
Dangers of Shooting OxyContin (Oxycodone)
People who inject oxycodone put themselves at additional risks that are otherwise not present when taking a drug by other methods. Here are the top dangers of injecting oxycodone.
Abscesses and Other Skin Infections
IV drug use substantially increases the risk for abscesses on the skin and other bacterial skin infections. This can be the result of using a dirty needle, sharing needles with someone else, or improper injection techniques. While cleaning needles every time or always using a new needle can reduce the risk of skin infections, medications like OxyContin are cut with fillers that can be toxic to your bloodstream and cause adverse side effects. As a result, it is impossible to inject drugs safely without any risk of skin infection.
Collapsed Veins, Inflammation, and Reduced Blood Flow
Repeatedly injecting Oxycodone into the same vein or similar area can lead to collapsed veins, vein inflammation, and even reduced blood flow. This can make it difficult to find a vein in medical settings, increase the risk for infection, and even cause severe swelling in the feet, legs, and arms due to poor blood flow.
Increased Overdose Risk
OxyContin (oxycodone) is meant to be swallowed in pill form. This allows the body to slowly absorb the drug over time. When injected, however, the pill is dissolved and placed directly into the bloodstream, hopping over the blood-brain barrier. People feel the effects of the drug within 15-30 seconds after injecting it compared to 30-60 minutes when swallowed.
Shooting oxycodone produces a powerful and instant high that individuals with little or no tolerance are not prepared for. This can easily result in an opioid overdose which, left untreated, can be fatal. Overdose is more likely among people who use IV opioids than those who snort or swallow them.
Opioid drugs like oxycodone slow down the heart rate and other bodily functions. This can cause long-term damage. Regular use of IV oxycodone can lead to an array of cardiovascular problems, including:
- Endocarditis – inflammation of the heart’s inner lining
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) – leg veins don’t sufficiently pump blood up from the legs to the heart
- Thrombosis – blood clot in a vein that can cause damage or blockage
- Septic pulmonary emboli – a rare type of pulmonary embolism that is common in IV drug users
Transmission of Bloodborne Illness
Many IV drug users share needles with other drug users. This significantly increases the risk of bloodborne illness transmissions, such as hepatitis C and HIV. Studies estimate that nearly 50% of IV drug users have hepatitis C and 90% of hepatitis C infections occur in people who inject drugs.
Get Help and Stop Shooting OxyContin (Oxycodone) Today
If you or someone you know has been injecting OxyContin or any other oxycodone medication, it’s time to put down the needle and ask for help. While getting sober isn’t easy, our team at Carolina Center for Recovery dedicates their lives to helping others remain safe, comfortable, and successful in their road to recovery. Don’t wait any longer. Call now to see how we can help you or a loved one overcome opioid addiction.
Medically Reviewed: August 11, 2021
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.