What is OxyContin and Why is it Addictive?
OxyContin can easily be confused with Oxycodone. While they are both opioids based, the tablet OxyContin is the brand name extended-release version, while Oxycodone generally has a more immediate effect on the body. It is primarily a prescription drug for managing moderate to severe chronic pain in injuries. Physicians also prescribe the drug for those suffering from some forms of cancer, heart attacks, and for burns victims. Millions around the world use the drug in safe and effectively to treat their condition, but you should only use it as directed by your doctor. OxyContin time-release formulation provides multiple hours of consistent pain relief, which helps the body physically heal.
However, users can get hooked on this comforting “high sensation” leading to severe dependence and abuse. This addiction can start simply by someone accidentally taking more dosage than required. OxyContin works by binding and increasing activity of the chemicals endorphins known as dopamine that controls the pleasure sensation. Over time with long term users, the body will become too dependent and stop stimulating dopamine naturally, and the mind will crave the artificial version of the drug. Eventually, OxyContin in the legal prescription form will not be enough to achieve the same level of comforting numbness. Addicts quickly turn to stealing more tablets, lying to their doctor, or even obtaining street powder forms to inject or snort to intensify the effects. Chronic users are at high risk of deadly complications. Never break away from the doctor recommendations and be open about any sign of dependence.
OxyContin addiction can have similar effects to that of heroin by producing a euphoric high from the over stimulating the brain reward and response pleasure chemicals. This effect creates a constant rush of emotions similar to doing activities you love like sports, being around loved ones, or eating desserts. Only now those activities will lose meaning as you cannot naturally feel pleasure in them.
Street addicts and gangs call OxyContin by several names, including “OC,” “Oxy,” “OxyCotton,” “Kickers” and “Hillbilly Heroin.” Some people use it as a substitute for heroin or morphine. By chewing, smashing, or crushing the tablet negates its timed release effect and cause a heightened risk of death by profuse vomiting and inducing a heart attack or coma.
Effects of OxyContin Abuse
Psychological dependence can happen suddenly and drastically deteriorate your quality of life. Someone addicted to OxyContin may take illegal, dangerous, and irrational steps to obtain high dosages, resulting in:
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Shutting off from loved ones
- Falsifying medication information and forging prescriptions
- Stealing and committing other crimes to fuel their addiction.
- Financially experience hardship trying to buy more drugs off the street
- Exhibit an apathy towards activities and people they once loved
Experts all now agree that, if misused, OxyContin will become a “gateway” drug to stronger opioids, like heroin. As users increase their dosage and consume by riskier, more direct, methods, the typical side effects dramatically increase and can become deadly, including:
- Confusion and slurred speech
- Loss of coordination and trouble walking
- Pale and clammy skin
- Memory problems
- Dry mouth
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Increase risk of heart attack
- Inducing a coma
People can easily take too much OxyContin by accident or as a way of “self-medicating” when they believe smaller doses aren’t working. Yet, the effects of an overdose are usually lethal. If you feel you need a higher dose, contact your doctor and discuss a plan of action. Medication by OxyContin should not be the only or first step in seeking treatment. If you find a loved has become unconscious or otherwise unresponsive after taking the drug, contact Poison Control or 911 immediately. Do not try to administer other medication to treat the overdose. They may be transferred to a qualified detox center to start their full recovery.
Recognizing OxyContin Addiction
Sudden and striking change in someone’s behavior can be a universal warning sign that a person has a kind of drug addiction. If a person acts overly aggressive, lethargic, or detached, monitor their usage carefully and give them special love and attention. It’s important not to be judgmental or shame anyone suffering from a possible OxyContin addiction. Instead, be honest with them about their getting their old life back, and get them the appropriate physical care by working with their doctor.
You may often notice white powder stains and discarded or hidden medication bottles. Observe and supervise their finances as you are able. Money mysteriously might go missing, or the person will stop paying bills.
Individuals addicted oxyContin will show symptoms of severe side effects that may vary based on their physiological condition and the stage of their abuse. The earlier you can detect abuse, the better! It is never too late to quit!
Heightened Abuse – Pairing Oxycontin with Other Drugs
Many individuals who abuse OxyContin do so by combining it with other substances, particularly depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines, to facilitate the high or balance the effects.
Addicts may also use OxyContin to subdue and counteract the effects of cocaine, meth, and amphetamines. These kinds of combinations are extremely dangerous as they can substantially increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
In the US, it is estimated that 9% of all adults have or will abuse opioid narcotics such as oxycodone, adding up to more than 13 million people that use OxyContin for recreational purposes. America has a growing OxyContin addiction, particularly over the last 20 years. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports:
- In 2011, OxyContin overdose was responsible for over 150,000 ER visits
- In 2012, about 16 million people reported using OxyContin in their lifetime when it is only designed for severe pain.
- In 2013, doctors prescribed nearly 60 million oxycodone, despite its high risk of dependence and abuse.
OxyContin Addiction Treatment
OxyContin has devastating effects when misused, but, fortunately, recovery is always possible! Medical professionals offer various OxyContin addiction treatment plans to meet individual needs. Ask your doctor about what’s best for your condition. Do not stop using the drug completely immediately! Generally, your doctor will advise slowly reducing your dosage as the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly themselves. For up to two weeks after getting treatment, you’ll experience withdrawal signs of drowsiness, anxiety, and depression, and nausea. Your doctor can prescribe medication to treat withdrawal, but be wary and report and signs of getting worse.
In some cases, it may be best to seek a thorough detox of your system at a specialty inpatient facility, which will include 24/7 treatment of nutrition and fluids to flush out the drug chemicals. Afterward, the physicians will likely recommend you go to a residential rehab center to get psychological treatment through counseling and other coping strategies. In all, the path to full recovery may take two months, but lingering effects can last years. Be sure to surround yourself with loved ones to get the right genuine support.
Riverside Recovery of Tampa is committed to the mission of full recovery of every addict. Our qualified staff and modern, beautiful campus will provide the assurance need to achieve absolute freedom over your OxyContin addiction. You can start the path to your new life today by giving us a call at (800) 871-5440.