As one of the newer pharmaceutical drugs, Oxycontin has quickly become one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States. However, our Oxycontin Addiction Treatment Center can help you overcome substance abuse with a foundation for recovery.

Oxycontin Facts & Statistics

In fact, Oxycontin drug abuse rates are alarming:

  • There has been an 82 percent rise in prescriptions for the drug since it was created in 1995.
  • More than 182,000 emergency room visits were the result of accidental misuse or abuse.
  • 70 percent of high school students have reported abusing OxyContin and the drugs related to it.
  • Five percent of all current drug addicts abuse OxyContin before abusing a more potent narcotic drug.
  • In addition, some 16 million Americans over the age of 12 have used the opiate for a non-medical purpose in the past year.

These oxycontin addiction rates are a direct reflection of the drug’s potent effects. OxyContin is typically for pain management, and ironically one of its original intentions was as a substitute for stronger opiates. Unfortunately, because of its wide availability, the number of Oxycontin addiction stories has skyrocketed in the last decade:

  • 21 percent of addicts admit to stealing from friends and family when they were no longer able to obtain it legally from a physician or other healthcare specialist,
  • More than 2.1 million people in the United States currently suffer from substance abuse to an opioid pain reliever such as Oxycontin.
  • Worldwide, the statistics are even more dramatic: it’s estimated that between 26 and 36 million people abuse opioids on a regular basis.

“Oxy” drug addiction typically occurs because of the way the drug affects the body and brain. The active ingredient—Oxycodone—is similar to morphine or even heroin. By altering the mind’s perception and emotional response to pain through binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, the drug creates a sense of euphoria and extreme relaxation. It also can stop the cough reflex and cause the pupils to dilate, lower body temperature and cause respiratory depression.

However, unlike other drugs in the opioid class Oxycontin is designed with a time-release component, eliminating the need for the user to take a pill every few hours and experience the pain-relieving benefits over the course of half a day from a single dose. The danger for addiction occurs when abusers crush the pills and either inhale or inject the powder, effectively eliminating the time-release control for a sudden and extreme “high.” Taking Oxycontin in this manner can easily lead to coma and even death as the body is unable to absorb the drug and compensate quickly enough to avoid cardiac arrest, which can occur within a matter of minutes.

Understanding Oxycontin Side Effects

Oxycontin—an opioid containing oxycodone typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain—causes a wide variety of effects both expected and desirable as well as dangerous and potentially deadly. When first beginning use of Oxycontin on a medically-prescribed basis and under the care of a physician, typical side effects include the gastrointestinal symptoms of constipation, nausea, stomach pain, a loss of appetite and vomiting. Other expected side effects are somnolence (sleepiness), dull headaches, dry mouth, moderate sweating and a decrease in sensitivity to pain. The majority of these symptoms disappear within three days of beginning a regimen of Oxycontin, however, if any of them persist for longer the individual should contact their doctor immediately.

If other side effects appear when first starting the drug—such as chest pains; a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat; hives or rashes; swelling of the face, tongue, throat, lips or extremities; difficulty breathing or lightheadedness when standing or changing positions—it’s vital to seek emergency care at once, as these effects can easily lead to dangerous seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death.

oxycontin treatment centerWhen a physician prescribes Oxycontin or another drug that contains oxycodone, it’s often intended to be used for an extended period in the treatment of chronic pain as it works on a time-release basis and therefore doesn’t become too rapidly absorbed in the body and lead to dangerous adverse effects. However, when the drug is used in a manner not intended—such as mixed with alcohol or other opioid or narcotic drugs—serious and life-threatening conditions can occur. Aside from a persistent impairment of mental and physical abilities, the more dangerous side effects of Oxycontin abuse can include irregular breathing, difficulty with respiration, extremely low blood pressure and heart failure than can result in cardiac arrest. Additionally, addiction specialists note that many abusers of Oxycontin experience long term effects from their addiction including financial and legal problems, poor decision-making skills, issues with family and friends and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts and attempts.

The most common abuse of Oxycontin involves scraping off the time-release coating of the pill, crushing it into a powder and either mixing it with water, inhaling it or injecting it directly into the bloodstream to create an intense and immediate euphoric high and sense of calmness and wellbeing. However, when taken in these manners the drug quickly overwhelms the body’s ability to process the drug, which can cause endocarditis—an infection of the heart—as well as scar and collapse the body’s veins. If the drug is injected, bacterial and soft-tissue infections in addition to boils and abscesses can occur, and liver and kidney diseases are a distinct possibility as these organs cannot metabolize the drug quickly enough when it’s taken in large and unsafe dosages.

What are Oxycontin Addiction Symptoms?

Since Oxycontin is similar to heroin in that it produces a euphoric high caused by elevated levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine and stimulating the reward centers of the brain, the chances for abuse and addiction are high among users. The signs of Oxycontin addiction, of course, vary widely from individual to individual based upon how long the abuser has been using the drug, how much was being taken and for how long abuse was occurring. However, there are general signs of addiction to Oxycontin that are obvious among all abusers.

In terms of addiction symptoms associated with mood changes, addicts typically display alternating bouts of depression and euphoria as well as severe and uncontrollable anxiety and irritability. Additionally, abusers will often lie to others about the amount of the drug they’re taking; hide their use from family and friends; borrow or even steal pills from those close to them; “shop” around for doctors who are able to prescribe more of the drug and lying about losing a prescription; attempt to acquire multiple prescriptions, even though forgery; and generally, neglect responsibilities at home and at work and ignore interpersonal relationships.

Physical symptoms of a more serious “Oxy” addiction almost always include “nodding out,” constant dizziness and itching, nausea and vomiting and constipation. Other physical signs may include consistently constricted pupils; hypotension—or low blood pressure—respiratory depression; headaches and sweating; and persistent dry mouth. Flushing of the skin is also common with Oxycontin abuse, as is a lack of stability, a loss of appetite and, in cases of extensive addiction, severe liver damage that can be life-threatening.

The psychological symptoms of Oxycontin addiction may be more difficult to recognize, as they may mimic signs of other mental disorders or be easily hidden by the addict. Those closest to the addict may notice that a tolerance to the drug has developed, the abuser needs to take more and more to achieve the desired relaxing and euphoric effects.

The addict may also experience:

  • disturbing and frequent hallucinations
  • display personality shifts that are extremely out of the ordinary
  • sudden bouts of rage or anger
  • delusional behaviors
  • be in a persistent state of paranoia or altered perception of reality

And when the individual’s addiction reaches its most severe there will be an obvious worsening of these psychological symptoms as well as a general increase in apparent mental illness.

Oxycontin abuse and addiction affect nearly every facet of the abuser’s life, but none are more potentially deadly than an overdose, which occurs when an individual ingests more of the drug than the body can process. And often, an overdose is the result of mixing Oxycontin with other drugs or alcohol.

Symptoms of an overdose include:

  • sweaty and chilled skin
  • overall weakness
  • seizures
  • trouble breathing
  • heart palpitations
  • a bluish tint to the skin
  • extreme confusion
  • in the most serious circumstances, unconsciousness and coma

If a state of abuse, dependence or addiction has been reached, it’s vital the user seek immediate help from a physician, addiction specialist or other healthcare providers as the long-term consequences of that addiction can lead to permanent physical and psychological damage as well as lasting harm to interpersonal relationships and social wellbeing.

Coping with Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms

For those who have been taking Oxycontin—or another drug that contains oxycodone—for a long period of time, a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms are to be expected, some mild and short-term and others long-term and debilitating. Withdrawal symptoms vary greatly depending on several factors: how much of the drug the user took, the length of time the abuse has been going on, the method of ingestion (whether orally, injected or inhaled), whether the user stops taking the drug suddenly or gradually ceases use and, of course, the overall severity of the dependence.

Mild symptoms of Oxycontin withdrawal

  • general lightheadedness
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • profuse sweating
  • headache and persistent rashes
  • abdominal cramping
  • a constant feeling of being too hot or cold
  • a runny nose
  • fatigue combined with insomnia
  • changes in appetite
  • uncontrollable yawning
  • mild to moderate muscle aches

More severe symptoms of withdrawal from Oxycontin include tremors, dilated pupils, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure levels, all of which can stress the body and the mind to the point where medical intervention is necessary to avoid serious and life-threatening complications. Psychologically, a person ceasing moderate- or long-term Oxycontin use can expect to experience intense mood swings ranging from agitation to depression, trouble concentrating, anxiety and irritability and strong cravings for the drug as a means of alleviating all the symptoms of withdrawal.

Despite the mildness or severity of withdrawal symptoms, they all occur as the brain and body attempt to regain balance once the drug has been ceased and the chemical interference with the normal operating systems of the body is no longer present. The immediate symptoms of withdrawal ease after a relatively short amount of time, typically between three and seven days. But the longer-term physical and psychological symptoms—often referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS—can last from a few weeks to three months or more, increasing the chances of the abuser descending back into a life of Oxycontin addiction.

No matter the severity of the symptoms from Oxycontin withdrawal, it’s critical that anyone abusing the drug seek help from dedicated addiction specialists and healthcare professionals, who can both help ease the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous effects of withdrawal as well as provide guidance that can prevent a relapse into unhealthy and uncontrollable opioid use and addiction.

OxyContin Addiction Treatment Center in Northern California

Although Oxycontin is part of the powerful opioid class of drugs and is therefore easy to become dependent on, addiction recovery rates are positive—upwards of 80 percent—if the addict obtains help from a rehab facility on either an in- or outpatient basis.

The first step when seeking recovery for an addiction to Oxycontin is to start a detoxification program under the guidance of an addiction specialist or other healthcare professional. Such specialists can provide medication interventions that can ease the symptoms of withdrawal, which can include insomnia, depression, muscle and joint pain, heart palpitations, constant sweating, diarrhea, nausea, excessive yawning, watery eyes, hypertension, perpetual tiredness, uncontrollable coughing, and fever.

OxyContin Addiction Treatment CenterPhysicians and addiction specialists typically approach the detoxification process by tapering the addict off Oxycontin gradually rather than ceasing it suddenly: this has shown to greatly ease the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous effects of withdrawal and greatly increase the chances of long-term recovery. And often, medications such as Clonidine or Methadone are given to the individual as a substitute and Oxycontin abuse-deterrent, which helps the patient slowly decrease dosages of the drug until they no longer physically need to take it.

Addiction specialists can also guide the addict through the withdrawal process by beginning a program of behavioral therapies combined with motivational incentive programs in a private or group setting. During the recovery process cravings for the drug can be intense, and as such therapies typically involve standard strategies that relate to addiction to other substances: avoiding situations where the addict used Oxycontin, as well as people they may have used the drug with, are critical elements of recovery, as is constantly reinforcing the negative consequences of their addiction. Such consequences often involve a deterioration of interpersonal relationships and legal, financial and career issues and problems.

Since the detoxification and recovery process from Oxycontin addiction can be difficult, it’s vital that family and friends provide encouragement to the addict at every stage of their treatment. Many addiction centers and specialists recommend family therapy programs as part of recovery treatment, during which serious interpersonal issues that arose because of the addiction can be addressed and confronted.

Because powerful opioids such as Oxycontin and other drugs containing oxycodone are still relatively new and so widely available in our country today, the chances for widespread abuse and addiction are serious public health epidemics. But as with any addiction, long-term and lasting recovery is possible when the individual has the support of addiction counselors as well as family and friends. And of course, it’s important to know that help and hope is available, and that they can beat their addiction to the drug and achieve lifelong recovery from the potentially devastating physical, psychological and social effects of Oxycontin abuse.

Seek Rehab Help Today

When you begin to search for the effective rehab treatment, it’s important to consider your specific needs. At Beacon House, we provide an original assessment at our OxyContin Addiction Treatment Center. This will help us develop a custom treatment plan that addresses your unique circumstances with addiction.

For example, your treatment protocol may include therapies such as:

When you enter our facility, our counselors will work with you to bring light to the causes of your problem. These underlying causes may be due to environmental factors, relationships, social circles, and more. Therefore, we will discover these challenges in your life and help you develop new strategies to overcome them.

When addiction takes control, it’s difficult to think of anything else. Furthermore, your actions and behaviors will revolve around drug abuse.

However, you can return to a healthy lifestyle at our OxyContin Addiction Treatment Center. For more information about us, contact our staff today at 831.372.4366.