Note: I am a layperson. take my opinion with a shaker of salt.
oxycontin contains oxycodone in a time-release form and carries similar advantages and disadvantages to other opiates. One unique advantage it has is it's time-release mechanism. This helps keep the level of drug in the blood-stream more constant so the patient has a sufficient but not excessive level of drug to manage his or her pain.
>> "well, if she is taking enough opiates to significantly alter her mental state, she can expect a certain degree of emotional numbing and indifference to the world."
This is absolutely not so. If anyone wants my personal experience with opioid users, who take it for pain under doctor's supervision, e-mail me directly. >>
I was going of experiences from my personal bioassays of opiates. These were done without prescriptions or medical supervision.
Also, I worded what I said to strongly. Chances are that she wouldn't notice any emotional numbing. I was just noting that it could be a possibility.
>>"The thing is, she may not be taking that high of a dose. One huge problem with using opiates for long term pain management is that huge tolerance can build up and the meds can lose their effectiveness."
This is another total fallacy. Bull**** invented by the "drug-war" nuts. Again, ask for my personal experience. Most pain patients have been on the exact same dose for dozens, scores of years. >>
I've read primary studies that conflict with this. You probably know more than me though.