The oxycodone in OxyContin is designed to be released slowly over time, allowing for hours of pain relief. When users crush the pills and snort or inject the drug, they bypass this time-release element, releasing all the power of the medication into the body at once. This is largely why users abuse the drug in these ways – to feel the intensity of the effects all at once, resulting in greater euphoria. However, bypassing the time-release feature comes with great risks, significantly increasing the likelihood of overdose, which can lead to death. Altering the medication’s intended form increases the likelihood of overdose. Signs of an overdose on OxyContin include:
Medical consequences of chronic injection use include scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses (boils), and other soft-tissue infections. Many of the additives in street heroin may include substances that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Immune reactions to these or other contaminants can cause arthritis or other rheumatologic problems.