Abuse of OxyContin (oxycodone), one of the most potent opioid painkillers on the market today, can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. As such a strong opioid drug, OxyContin abuse carries a high risk of overdose.
Finding a comprehensive OxyContin addiction treatment program can help to protect a person from these and other health problems caused by OxyContin abuse.
OxyContin abuse can also damage relationships, careers, and educational goals. The best OxyContin drug rehab programs address the social, emotional, mental, behavioral, and even legal impacts of addiction.
Through this integrated approach, a person could become empowered to find better health and freedom from OxyContin addiction.
While OxyContin can be a useful medication when taken as prescribed, when abused it can be very dangerous and highly addictive.
OxyContin is a semi-synthetic prescription narcotic analgesic or opioid pain medication. It is the brand name of the generic medication oxycodone, a schedule II drug. Individuals who abuse this drug may refer to it as Hillbilly Heroin or Oxy.
This medication is prescribed for long-term pain management in people whose pain is so severe that they need to take an opioid all day on a daily basis. It’s recommended that OxyContin be prescribed only to people who cannot take a non-opioid painkiller or an immediate-release opioid.
OxyContin is an extended-release or long-acting medication. This means that it contains enough medication for 12 hours. It also means that the medication is designed to be released slowly and evenly across this period of time.
OxyContin extended-release tablets are available in the following doses:
- 10 mg
- 15 mg
- 20 mg
- 30 mg
- 40 mg
- 60 mg
- 80 mg
While many people who abuse this drug to take it orally, others alter the form of the drug in an attempt to increase their high or to feel the effects faster.
Even though the drug was reformulated to be more abuse deterrent, in these instances, a person may try to crush the drug so they can snort, smoke, or inject it.
By doing so, a person’s body receives large amounts of the drug quickly, an event that can increase the risk of overdose, tolerance, and addiction.
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OxyContin Abuse Signs And Symptoms
A major sign of OxyContin abuse and addiction are cravings. When this occurs, a person will have an overwhelming desire or strong urges to take the drug. These thoughts may become so frequent and intense that they overshadow thoughts of most everything else.
Continued OxyContin abuse can also lead to tolerance. In this state, a person’s regular dose doesn’t create the feelings they seek. To overcome this, an individual will increase the amount or frequency of their dose in order to create the feel-good effects they desire.
Taking OxyContin on a frequent basis can create physical dependence. This could occur in as little as a few days or weeks of regular abuse of the drug. In a dependent state, a person’s body struggles to function normally without the drug. In the absence of OxyContin, a dependent person will likely go into withdrawal, another sign of addiction.
As a person falls deeper into addiction, they may struggle to control or limit their use. Even though OxyContin is harming their health, job, or relationships, an individual may continue using the drug. At this time, they may prefer to take the drug instead of enjoying favorite hobbies.
Misusing a personal prescription to create a euphoric effect or to self-medicate a physical or mental health problem is considered abuse. When a person takes someone else’s medication for these purposes it is also a sign of abuse.
Altering the drug’s form, such as by crushing the pill, is a major sign that a person has an OxyContin problem. Paraphernalia, or equipment to use the drug, can also point to abuse. This may include syringes, pipes, or pieces of foil that a person heated the drug on.
OxyContin Abuse Side Effects
As an opioid, OxyContin’s effects are similar to those of other drugs in this class, such as codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, and opium.
When a person abuses it, they may experience the following side effects of OxyContin abuse:
While some of the short-term effects of OxyContin abuse may seem pleasurable, abuse of this drug can be highly dangerous in both the short and long term.
OxyContin Abuse Risks And Dangers
OxyContin abuse can create physical and mental health problems. Further, individuals who abuse opioid pain medications like OxyContin may face a higher risk of heroin abuse.
Babies who are born to OxyContin-dependent mothers could develop neonatal absence syndrome or withdrawal symptoms. They may also have respiratory problems and a low birthweight. The risk of miscarriage is also greater due to opioid painkiller abuse.
The dangers of injecting OxyContin intravenously (IV) can be severe. Repeatedly injecting a drug into the same sight can damage a person’s skin and veins. Scarring or track marks may result. Inflammation and infection can also occur, leading to accesses, cellulitis, or tissue death.
One of the most serious dangers of IV OxyContin abuse is an increased risk of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C. Transmission of these infectious diseases can occur when a person shares a needle.
Even people who don’t inject this drug may be at risk. Taking OxyContin can increase high-risk behaviors that transmit these diseases, such as unprotected sex or trading sexual favors for the drug.
One of the greatest risks of OxyContin abuse and addiction is overdose. The risk of overdose increases during polydrug abuse or when OxyContin is combined with other drugs.
This hazard is especially high when OxyContin is taken with central nervous system depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepine drugs like Valium (diazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam). Mixing OxyContin with stimulants such as cocaine or meth is also dangerous.
OxyContin Overdose Signs
Overdose from oxycodone, including OxyContin, is one of the top three drugs most commonly involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths.
An OxyContin overdose occurs when the drug reaches toxic levels in a person’s body. This amount can vary from person to person and be dependent on the way a person takes the drug.
A person may overdose the first time they try OxyContin. Someone who has developed a tolerance to it and used it for a long time may overdose as well.
Any way of using this drug can cause overdose, however, when the form of the medication is altered the risk for overdose rises.
OxyContin is meant to be delivered slowly over an extended period of time. Crushing the drug overrides this extended-release mechanism and allows the drug to flood a person’s system at once. Because of this, injecting, smoking, or snorting the drug can greatly increase the risk of overdose.
As a person’s central nervous system fails to function normally due to overdose, critical life support systems will struggle, causing the heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure to drop. A person’s skin may also become cold or clammy to the touch. Their fingernails and lips may take on a blue cast as well.
Additional signs and symptoms of an OxyContin overdose are:
- muscle weakness
- nausea and vomiting
- overwhelming sleepiness
- pinpoint pupils
- stomach pain
Severe overdose from oxycodone can cause seizures, stupor, coma, and fatal cardiac arrest.
Overdose from OxyContin can result in respiratory depression or breathing difficulties. When this occurs a person may have slow or shallow breathing.
At its most serious stage, respiratory depression can result in stopped breathing that causes a person to die. Even if a person doesn’t die from this, they may have brain damage from the lack of oxygen.
OxyContin Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms
OxyContin withdrawal can occur if a person quits suddenly, or cold turkey, or if they drastically reduce the dose they take.
When a person goes into withdrawal, their central nervous system may react, leading to increased blood pressure, heart, and respiratory rates.
Other signs and symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal include:
- dilated pupils
- muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- runny nose
- teary eyes
Though withdrawal symptoms from opioids such as OxyContin are not in themselves deadly, certain complications caused by them may be.
In the least, these symptoms can cause intense discomfort, however, in certain cases they may become so intense that a person considers relapsing to stop them.
For these reasons, OxyContin withdrawal should not be treated without professional medical oversight.
OxyContin Withdrawal And Detoxification Treatment
Though OxyContin withdrawal treatment may occur in an outpatient detox program, it is generally better treated in an inpatient detox program for oxycodone.
Withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin can become severe. Without constant support, a person could become overwhelmed by cravings and other withdrawal symptoms and relapse.
Residential detox programs for OxyContin provide 24-hour support while a person detoxes from this drug.
In a medically supervised detoxification program for OxyContin, medications will likely be used to help reduce or alleviate painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Medications used for OxyContin withdrawal may include:
- Lucemyra (lofexidine)
- Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone)
Nutritional support and IV fluid hydration may be used to help a person’s body heal during detox. To ease a person’s stress about quitting oxys, compassionate counseling services may be offered as well.
Finding An OxyContin Drug Rehab Program
A large number of addiction treatment programs exist today, but not every program offers the same level of care. The best OxyContin drug rehab programs use an integrated and individualized approach to treat addiction to oxycodone.
With severe addiction, as is common with OxyContin, residential or inpatient addiction treatment programs are often recommended. An OxyContin inpatient drug rehab program gives a person more time to recover and learn sober living skills that can protect sobriety.
After detox, a person may continue to take certain medications for OxyContin addiction, such as is the case with methadone maintenance therapy. Medication-assisted treatment blends medications with behavioral therapies to treat the physical and mental components of addiction.
In addition to 12-step facilitation therapy, evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy may be used in an opioid treatment program for OxyContin.
The latter two behavioral therapies can also be very beneficial to people who have a co-occurring mental illness along with addiction to OxyContin.
Finding an addiction treatment program for OxyContin that fits a person’s unique needs can increase their chance for a successful recovery.
Reach out to DrugRehab.org today for more information on OxyContin abuse, addiction, and treatment options.Sources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Opioid Overdose: Prescription Opioid Data
Medline Plus - Oxycodone
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Opioids
U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration - Drugs of Abuse A DEA RESOURCE GUIDE