OxyContin Addiction and Treatment
As a powerful synthetic opioid, OxyContin is a medication with effects similar to morphine. It is prescribed in efforts to relieve or manage a patient’s pain.
The addictive nature of OxyContin (generic name oxycodone) necessitates it being a tightly controlled substance. Doctors are ever aware of the epidemic of OxyContin abuse in this country, and will stress the importance of monitoring your intake of this potent painkiller, should it be prescribed. Despite their many efforts, doctors are not always able to control how OxyContin is used, as a substantial amount of the drug ends up being diverted for illicit use.
Are You Addicted to OxyContin?
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Many times, there is a slow transition from recreational drug use to addiction. Some individuals who are already in the grips of an addiction to OxyContin may spend months or even years saying that they are making the choice to casually and periodically enjoy the drug – that their compulsive use is not actually controlling their lives.
How can you know if you’re addicted to OxyContin? Ask yourself these questions and see whether it might be time to re-evaluate your thoughts on your own drug habit:
Questionnaire: Signs of Addiction
- Am I taking more than I used to because the old amount doesn’t do much for me anymore?
- Have I ever faced or narrowly avoided a legal problem because of my drug usage?
- Would I prefer to take drugs than do other things?
- Do I ever take drugs because I need them to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms I get when I don’t take them?
- Do I ever promise myself or my loved ones that I will stop altogether or remain sober for a specific occasion – and then fail to come through?
- Do I ever realize that I have forgotten something that happened or that I blacked out?
- Do I lie to family and friends about my drug abuse and usage?
Over time, OxyContin abuse can exact steep psychological and physical tolls. If you or someone you know has progressed from occasional recreational abuse to a level of compulsive use that might indicate a serious OxyContin addiction, now is the time to seek help.
Signs of OxyContin Addiction
If you have a friend or family member who may be abusing OxyContin, you need to learn to identify the signs of addiction – many of which are similar to those of other abused prescription drugs that are being increasingly misused as recreational substances.
While you may find it easier to spot physical signs of addiction, sometimes more subtle behavioral changes are the clearest indication that there is something wrong and that your loved one needs OxyContin rehab help.
The physical signs of OxyContin addiction include:
- Changes in eating habits, leading to noticeable changes in body weight.
- Changes in sleep patterns (e.g., insomnia, difficulty staying asleep).
- Less attention given to hygiene and appearance, leading to disheveled appearance.
- Impaired coordination.
- Slurred speech.
- Shaking or jerky limb movements.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Extremely small pupils.
The behavioral signs of OxyContin addiction include:
- Mood swings.
- Volatile temper.
- Manic episodes: appearing active and energetic for brief periods of time – then crashing and feeling depressed.
- Failing to perform well at work or school.
- Unexplained absences.
- Being dismissive or secretive about activities.
- Loss of interest in old favorite pastimes.
- Shutting out or alienating old friends and family members who might disapprove of drug use.
- Financial problems that lead to borrowing or stealing money from friends and family.
Side Effects of OxyContin Abuse
Serious Side Effects
Any of these symptoms may indicate the need for immediate medical attention and further help from an OxyContin rehab program2:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Intermittent loss of consciousness.
- Swelling in the face or throat.
- Respiratory complications, including slowed breathing or difficulty breathing.
- Rash or hives.
- Tight feeling in the chest.
- Changes in heart rate or rhythm.
- Chills, cold sweats.
- Uncontrollable twitching.
- Shakiness in the limbs, hands or feet.
Effects on the Body
These signs and symptoms may signal less urgent issues, but can still be quite be painful and inconvenient.
- Loss of muscle strength.
- Stomach pain.
Nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of weight.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Irregular menstrual periods.
- Body aches.
- Nasal congestion.
- Dry, itching skin.
It’s also important to note that if you have compromised kidney function, the drug may more quickly accumulate in your system – to potentially toxic levels.3
Effects on the Brain
OxyContin affects users’ brains differently. When a state of OxyContin dependency has been reached, however, it is inevitable that the drug has already had a profound effect on your brain chemistry and quality of life. Be on the lookout for some of these mental health side effects:
- Mood Changes.
- Feeling of unreality.
- False sense of wellbeing.
- Memory loss.
While the psychological addiction to OxyContin may in some cases remain a lifelong battle, the good news is that most of these mental side effects will resolve with time once you stop taking OxyContin. The key to permanently ridding yourself of these side effects, however, is staying off of OxyContin.
Since narcotic drugs – both street drugs and prescription medications – have very high relapse rates, it is important to have the right resources in place to help with relapse prevention. Staying in contact with a therapist and making sure you know where and how to attend free support group meetings can help you maintain abstinence once you are freed from your addiction.
OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms
The process of acute opioid withdrawal will unfold differently for each individual. In general, however, those going through the detox process may expect to experience three stages of withdrawal. In some individuals, these stages can even begin within the first 8 hours since taking your last dose of OxyContin4:
Physical withdrawal from opioids may be painful and difficult, but it is rarely a life-threatening event. However, the experience can easily lead to continued drug use, to keep the symptoms at bay. If you find yourself taking OxyContin every day in larger doses than would typically be prescribed, or continually using it merely to avoid the onset of withdrawal, it would be wise to talk with a healthcare professional to assess your level of addiction and discuss the best plan for tapering back off the drug.
Even if you don’t opt for a lengthy inpatient rehab program, getting through withdrawal in a hospital or with a healthcare professional will often be much easier on you and those around you than trying to do it at home.
Opioid Treatment Facility Types
When you are ready to look into your options for getting addiction help, you will want to know about a few different treatment facility types that may suit you, depending on your needs and budget.
- Luxury rehab programs offer residential addiction treatment in a setting complete with a wide range of high-end, resort-like amenities.
- Executive rehab programs also provide residential addiction treatment with similarly plush amenities – although they additionally cater to the busy professional – providing the resources and program structure that lets them stay involved in their work throughout treatment.
- Traditional rehab programs offer the same high-quality addiction treatment that is found at both luxury and executive programs – but without the extra amenities and at lower prices that may be more affordable for your budget.
Factors that Contribute to OxyContin Addictions
What causes people to develop an OxyContin addiction in the first place?
Many individuals are prescribed OxyContin and other painkiller medications as a result of sports injuries. While short-term use of the medication as prescribed is meant to bring about controlled pain relief and improve everyday functioning, some people end up developing an unhealthy opioid dependence that may persist long after the initial sports injury has sufficiently healed.
Predisposing Mental Health Conditions
Certain mental health conditions may make you especially susceptible to developing an OxyContin addiction, even if you begin taking it as a prescribed medication:
- Anxiety disorders, or the inability to cope with stress.
Personal and Social History
Some individuals fall prey to developing an addiction as a response to their personal or social history that may involve:
- Surviving some form of trauma.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Abuse (physical, emotional or sexual).
- Family members with addictions.
- Friends with addictions.
Some who have gone through a traumatic experience may develop a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
PTSD is often seen in the context of military personnel who have faced the horrors of war. But it can also be a problem for people who have survived accidents, witnessed crimes or have been victims of assaults. Individuals coping with PTSD are particularly likely to self-medicate with OxyContin or with other drugs – and may therefore be at higher risk addiction.
If you’d like to learn more about OxyContin addiction or more about your treatment options, contact us at 1-888-744-0789. We’re here to discuss the questions you have and help you find the best drug rehab for your particular circumstances.
- Opioids: brief description. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Oxycodone: side effects. Mayo Clinic.
- Oxycodone: before using. Mayo Clinic.
- Kosten, T. R., O’Connor, P. G. (2003). Management of drug and alcohol withdrawal. New England Journal of Medicine, 348: 1786.