What Is OxyContin?
OxyContin is a brand name for oxycodone — a prescription opioid pain reliever — and it is likely the most popular of all in its class among drug abusers. The drug was first synthesized in 1916, but it didn’t make its way to America until 1939, where variants of it would show their addictive potential in decades to come. By 1970, the Controlled Substances Act was passed and included OxyContin as a Schedule II drug.
Since then, it has been a favorite among both prescribing physicians and those suffering from substance use disorder. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 58.8 million prescriptions filled for oxycodone in 2013.
OxyContin is the prescription version of an opioid narcotic pain medicine called oxycodone. This opioid is used for the treatment of moderate to severe, around-the-clock pain, and unlike some other prescription painkillers, OxyContin is not intended for as-needed pain relief. This is a time-released version of oxycodone, and it can be used to relieve pain resulting from surgery, injuries, cancer and sometimes arthritis.
Similar to morphine, oxycodone is in some other prescription pain medicines, including Percocet, which is a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen.
This time-released formula provides up to 12 hours of relief for people who suffer from chronic pain. This around-the-clock pain treatment is one of the things that sets OxyContin apart from other opioid pain relievers. As compared to OxyContin, other painkillers tend to last only around four hours. Unfortunately, despite the fact that opioids like OxyContin are effective at treating pain, they are frequently abused.
OxyContin abuse is incredibly common. Street names for OxyContin include OC, Hillbilly Heroin, OxyCotton and Kicker. The concept of Oxy addiction and OxyContin abuse isn’t new — the DEA says it’s been a problem for more than 30 years, but it has been on the rise in recent years. There is also a high level of concern about OxyContin abuse and OxyContin addiction among teens and young adults.
How Is OxyContin Used?
To avoid OxyContin addiction, it’s important that patients take this opioid analgesic exactly as directed by their doctor. OxyContin, even when taken as prescribed does have a high potential for abuse and addiction, but when you follow instructions you lower those risks. Patients are warned never to take more OxyContin than they’re prescribed, to take it more often than they’re told by their doctor, or to take it in ways other than how it’s intended to be used.
OxyContin extended release dosages are meant to be taken orally, and they shouldn’t be crushed, opened or broken.
If someone misses a dose of OxyContin, they’re instructed to skip it if it’s almost time for their next rather than trying to make up for it with extra medicine, and people are also warned not to drink alcohol while using the drug because it can result in fatal side effects.
Some of the side effects that are potential with OxyContin include drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness. People may also experience constipation, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and itching.
The initial dosage for this controlled release opioid usually starts at 10 mg taken every twelve hours, and the average daily dose is around 105 mg per day. Geriatric patients may follow different dosage guidelines.
OxyContin abuse doesn’t necessarily indicate OxyContin addiction, but when someone does abuse this controlled substance, they are more likely to become addicted. With OxyContin addiction, a person often experiences strong and often uncontrollable cravings for the drug. Opioids alter the brain’s chemistry in a way that leads to addiction relatively quickly, which is why OxyContin abuse so often leads to OxyContin addiction.
Some of the signs of OxyContin addiction include changes to behavior or lifestyle, taking the drug in ways other than how it’s intended to be used, and seeming tired or detached. Getting OxyContin illegally may indicate an OxyContin addiction, as can secretive behavior.
It’s also important to realize that OxyContin abuse occurs when people mix this drug with other substances to heighten the effects. For example, people may pair OxyContin with other opioids or alcohol. Not only is this dangerous, but it is an indicator of OxyContin abuse.
The high from OxyContin is often compared to that of heroin, and people with an OxyContin addiction can quickly develop a tolerance to the drug. When this happens, users feel as if they need larger amounts of the drug for the same effect, and that’s often when it becomes a lethal situation.
People who take OxyContin for legitimate reasons and follow their prescription may build up a tolerance to the drug, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they have an OxyContin addiction. For those struggling with addiction, there are many OxyContin addiction treatment centers throughout the United States that can help transform lives. By attending rehab for OxyContin addiction, those suffering from substanc abuse can learn new habits and thought patterns for a healthier life free from subsance abuse.
Side effects that often stem from OxyContin abuse include:
- Body aches
- Muscular pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Panic attacks
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Depressed mood
Withdrawal is highly uncomfortable, so those struggling with substance use disorder will often use as soon as they start feeling any sign of it bubbling to the surface. If someone in your life is abusing OxyContin and seems to continually bail on plans with friends and family members to use the drug instead, she may be hooked on the potent painkiller. Failed attempts at cutting back or quitting are also red flags of OxyContin addiction. Using OxyContin despite suffering from serious side effects such as arrests, custody issues, lost relationships, or financial strain, is also indicative of OxyContin addiction.
Detox and Therapy
Detox is an important part of moving on from opiates; however, it should never be done without medical supervision. Some people attempt a cold-turkey detox on their own, and this can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, Wired Magazine notes the success rate among those who try to detox alone is a mere 5 percent.
Some questionable treatment facilities promote a newer form of weaning off of opiates, known as rapid detox or ultra-rapid detox. Rapid detox is advertised as being safe, effective and fast, but it is a controversial form of detox that comes with substantial risk.
The process involves putting the person to sleep and administering naltrexone. The intent of rapid detox is to allow the person to progress through detox without feeling the pains of withdrawal. After a period of six hours to as long as two days, the person is removed from sedation and allegedly clean. What seems promising often isn’t as the outcomes of this controversial treatment speak for themselves. Eighty percent of people who go through rapid detox relapse within six months following the process and withdrawal symptoms were not entirely absent a day after the procedure either. In addition, deaths have been reported in recent years as a result of rapid detox procedures. If you’re seeking Oxycontin addiction treatment, it’s best to attend a reputable medical detox program to safely transition away from the drug.
Methadone is the most common form of treatment for opiate addiction. According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, 60–90 percent of individuals who are treated with methadone reach recovery.
Buprenorphine is an alternative to methadone. Patients start out on a moderate and safe dose of the treatment drug, which is then slowly reduced over time. Generally, recovery is attained and held the longest when treatment is ongoing for at least one year.
The Importance of Aftercare
The risk of relapse after recovery from opioids like OxyContin is high. Per Everyday Health, OxyContin addicts have an 85 percent chance of relapse following one year of sobriety. While relapse is common, it isn’t inevitable, and it doesn’t signify a failure of treatment. Relapse can often be a sign that the treatment plan needs to be adjusted in some way.
A strong aftercare program is essential in the fight against relapse. With high levels of support and ongoing participation in therapy and support groups, patients are best positioned to avoid relapse.
At The Recovery Village, professionals can design a treatment program that can help you or your loved one to leave OxyContin addiction and abuse behind for good. Call today to learn more about treatment offerings.