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OxyContin Addiction Signs and Symptoms

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, prescriptions for the drug OxyContin increased 20-fold between 1996 and 2000. While it’s possible that the increase is due to the fact that OxyContin is an effective pain-control medication and many people with chronic conditions rely on the drug to get through the day, it’s also possible that the increase is due to abuse. Some statistics seem to suggest that this might be the case. For example, the increase in OxyContin prescription rates has also been matched by an increase in reports of addictions to the drug. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50 to 90 percent of new patients in addiction treatment programs in Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia report that OxyContin is their primary drug of abuse. If you’re addicted to OxyContin, you’re certainly not alone.

This article will outline how experimentation with the drug can quickly develop into an addiction, and how an addiction to the drug can be identified. You might recognize your own symptoms as you read, and if so, perhaps you’ll be motivated to get help. If you’re ready to get that help you need, contact us. We can connect you to the best exclusive inpatient or outpatient treatment facility that can help you get sober and healthy.

A Powerful and Prevalent Drug

OxyContin is a brand name for the medication oxycodone hydrochloride. This drug was developed to help people in severe pain from injuries, cancer, arthritis and bursitis. The drug works by reducing the sensation of pain, and as a side effect, it tends to cause a mild feeling of euphoria. When the drug is taken exactly as it is prescribed, that euphoria is typically easy to ignore. When higher doses of the drug are taken, however, the euphoric properties of the drug become much more powerful and harder to ignore.

Your addiction to OxyContin may have started with pain from an injury or a chronic condition. When you went to your doctor’s office for help, and you were provided with a prescription for the drug, you were likely told how the drug was to be used. Perhaps you followed those instructions to the letter for a short period of time, but one day, you chose to bend the rules a bit and you took a higher dose than was recommended or you combined the drug with alcohol or another medication, trying to increase the sensation of euphoria. This is one pathway to addiction that many people follow.

Your addiction to OxyContin may have started in a completely different fashion, and if so, you’re not alone. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 78 percent of people who admitted to OxyContin use also admitted that they’d never been given a prescription for the drug. They may have received the drug by:

  • Purchasing it from a dealer
  • Stealing it from relatives
  • Receiving the drug as a gift from friends or relatives
  • Buying it online

Using OxyContin without a prescription is illegal, and it’s also considered drug abuse. The medication is designed to treat pain, so using it for any other purpose is troublesome. If you’re using the drug to get high or for recreation, it’s time to stop and think hard about your actions and what you might need to do to stop. As you’ll see, experimenting with the drug can lead to abuse and addiction.

*Disposing of Unwanted Doses

While OxyContin addiction can be successfully treated, it’s best to prevent an addiction from taking hold in the first place. If you have OxyContin pills in your medicine cabinet left over from a previous illness, it’s best to get rid of those pills now. You’ll avoid the temptation to abuse these drugs, and you’ll keep them out of the hands of the people that you know are already dealing with an addiction. Talk to your pharmacist about medication take-back programs in your area. You may be able to drop your unused and unwanted medications off for free.

Intensifying the Experience

According to an article published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, many people who develop addictions to OxyContin begin by swallowing the pills. They then move to either crushing the pills and snorting the powder, or crushing the pills, mixing the powder with water and injecting the solution into their veins. When you started abusing OxyContin, this might have been something you never, ever thought you would do. But, the chemical changes in your brain due to the abuse of the drug can make risk-taking behavior like this a necessity.

OxyContin taps into the brain’s communication system, changing both the production and disintegration of chemicals the brain uses to signal pleasure. These changes can bring about the euphoria you feel when on OxyContin, but they can also be responsible for triggering compulsive and out-of-control abuse of the drug. Your brain develops a dependence on the drug, and it may need higher doses of the same drug to produce the same effect. OxyContin pills contain time-release ingredients that allow low doses of ingredients to hit the system over an extended period of time. By crushing the pills, you may be able to access all of the power of the drug at once.

While developing a tolerance for a drug is natural and normal, know that crushing and snorting or injecting pills is considered a hallmark of addiction. It’s a signal that your use of the drug has reached a critical stage where you’re not even close to using the drug in the way that it was designed to be used. It’s an action that should cause you to stop and take notice.

*Another Reason to Quit

OxyContin addictions can cause serious disruptions in your life. These consequences might be severe enough that they prompt you to quit using drugs, but if they are not, there is one more good reason for you to think about quitting your OxyContin use. Authorities have become aware of the rising number of people addicted to OxyContin, and as a result, they are cracking down on doctors who prescribe the drugs indiscriminately. They are also closing down Internet stores that sell the drugs without a prescription. Soon, you may find it difficult to buy the drug at all. Now might be a good time to get help, before you’re forced to quit due to a lack of supply.

Growing Signs of Concern

Addictions to any substance, including OxyContin, alcohol, heroin or other drugs, can cause a series of changes in the way you think, behave and feel. If you notice any of these changes in your life, you might be struggling with addiction:

  • You don’t feel in control over when and how much you use.
  • Much of your time is spent thinking about or using drugs.
  • You’ve been arrested, lost your job or fought with your family due to drug use.
  • You’ve tried to quit in the past, and found you were unable to do so.
  • You’ve tried to limit how much you use, and found you were unable to do so.
  • Other people have told you that they’re worried about your use, and these conversations made you upset or even angry.
  • You’ve driven or operated machinery while under the influence.
  • You must use drugs to feel normal.
  • You don’t even like the drugs anymore, but you still feel like you must use them.
  • You’ve spent rent money or grocery money on drugs.

You might have all of these signs, or you might have only one or two. It’s likely, however, that you know that your abuse is out of control and that you’ll need help to beat it. There are a variety of programs that can help you. For example, scientists have developed medications that can mimic the actions of opioids like OxyContin, and you can use those medications to slowly acclimate to a life without drugs. In therapy, you can learn how to control your cravings and your behavior. You can recover. If you recognize your behavior in the list above, it’s time to ask for help. Call now to get the help you need.