Chances are that individuals who are on OxyContin for an extended period of time have developed a physical addiction to this analgesic opioid. This brand-name product containing oxycodone hydrochloride produces dramatic effects which entrap a high percentage of people who take it extensively.
Individuals who are addicted to OxyContin will not likely be able to cease using it without expert help. Addiction is a disease. As such, it requires specialized medical treatment, including detox and rehab.
While there are people who are known to intentionally abuse this potent chemical, some experts have suggested that many of those who take OxyContin are “drug naive” and may become “accidentally addicted.” Following a physician’s prescription for legitimate medical reasons is generally considered a wise thing to do; however, it’s not a guarantee that addiction won’t occur. Taking OxyContin for an extended period of time may contribute to escalated use, addiction and, in some cases, overdose and death.1
If Any of These Indicators Show Up, Seek Expert Help
OxyContin addiction may go unrecognized by a person immersed in drug abuse, but it is usually quite apparent to loved ones and other observers, if they know what to look for. While there is no definite time frame for an addiction to occur, these indicators can assist in detecting the need for OxyContin rehab:
- Defies Reason by Wanting More Self-destructing Drugs – If a user seeks to satisfy a strong, persistent craving for OxyContin – despite its obvious harm to self and others –this indicates that the person is struggling with a drug addiction. The relentless desire to take this substance in order to maintain a euphoric feeling is paramount for the person with a substance use disorder.Incapable of acting rationally at this point, that person needs someone to step in and coordinate efforts toward recovery.1
- Takes Desperate Measures to Get More Drugs – The user employs whatever means possible to acquire and use enough OxyContin to attain the desired effect. Such tactics may involve feigning the loss of a prescription, stealing other people’s prescriptions, filling duplicate prescriptions from multiple physicians (“doctor shopping”), or buying what is believed to be OxyContin “on the street” from unregulated makers or sellers. Some reports suggest that this powerful narcotic is most frequently obtained from nonmedical sources.1
- Experiences Physical Signs of Drug Abuse – Not only can OxyContin and other opioid-based drugs depress breathing by changing neurochemical activity in the brain stem (where automatic body functions are controlled), but they can change the limbic system (which controls emotions) and also block pain messages transmitted through the spinal cord from the body. In addition, a user may experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness or headaches. (Note: If a life-threatening overdose is suspected, contact the local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. However, if the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.)2
- Engages in Unusually Risky Behavior – The user may take precarious steps in acquiring more drugs, such as seeking out illegitimate dealers. First of all, there is inherent danger in doing business with drug dealers on the street. They not only sell a questionable product with unknown effects, but they may take impulsive and gruesome action in order to get whatever payment they demand. Researchers are investigating the long-term effects on the brain from addiction to OxyContin and other opioids. Studies have shown deterioration of certain portions of the brain in users, which may affect decision-making abilities, the power to regulate behavior, and responses to stressful situations.
- Shirks Responsibilities – The neglect or inability to meet obligations at home, school or the workplace is another red flag to observers. A long-time user may break promises made because taking more OxyContin is now simply a higher priority. An individual in the grip of addiction will likely not recognize or admit this realignment of priorities. Until that person’s head is cleared through detox and adequate rehabilitation (“gets clean”), rational thought and responsible behavior cannot be expected.4
How Does OxyContin Abuse Typically Begin?
OxyContin (as with any opioid-based analgesic) can be abused by:
- Taking it at the same time as other drugs– OxyContin and other opioids should only be taken under a physician’s supervision. Typically, they should not be used with other substances that depress the central nervous system – such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or general anesthetics. Such drug mixing can significantly increase the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.5
- Taking it when prescribed for somebody else– Unaware of the dangers of sharing medications, people often unknowingly contribute to this form of abuse by sharing their unused pain relievers with family members or friends. Most teenagers who abuse prescription drugs are initially given them for free.
- Taking it for a purpose other than its intended use– OxyContin became popular as a street drug because of its ability to induce a quick heroin-like euphoria. The media hype surrounding OxyContin abuse and the “black box” warning on its label may have actually served to increase the drug’s abuse.
- Taking it in a higher quantity or in another manner than prescribed– Besides simply taking too many pills at one time, abuse can occur by crushing and consuming these time-release tablets.Regardless of whether its snorted or injected, this manner of use delivers all of the oxycodone from the sustained-release matrixin a greater-than-intended dosage to the brain, amplifying the drug’s effects.1
Addiction to OxyContin and other prescription painkillers develops from the triggering of the pleasure and reward system in the brain. With regular OxyContin use, the mind and body become reliant upon the euphoria it generates. Meanwhile, the brain reduces production of the chemicals that naturally satisfy the body’s craving. This results in an addiction to OxyContin. Furthermore, since tolerance to this powerful narcotic builds with each use over time in the human body, a greater and greater quantity of the drug is required to produce the desired effects.6
How Will the Story End for You and Your Loved Ones?
If this article tells your story, the initial steps toward recovery are accepting that OxyContin controls much of what you do, that substance use disorders are a serious disease, and that they don’t go away on their own – you need experienced and knowledgeable guidance and support. OxyContin rehab is necessary and available – both for OxyContin abusers and for their friends and family.
OxyContin rehab is available at The Canyon. With skilled medical and therapeutic specialists in opioid addiction treatment on site, we can provide you with integrated, evidence-based OxyContin addiction detox and rehab. For more information and treatment options, call The Canyon on our free 24/7 line.
1 Carise, Deni, Ph.D., et.al., “Prescription OxyContin Abuse Among Patients Entering Addiction Treatment”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2785002/.
2 “Oxycodone”, Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html#why.
3 “Prescriptions and Over-the-counter Medications”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications, (November 2015).
4“Addiction and Free Will”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757759/.
5 “Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction”, Research Report Series, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/rrprescription.pdf.
6“The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851054/.