By Sandy Baker
How can a person develop an addiction to a prescription drug meant to alleviate their pain? Because painkillers are often opioid-based, and opioids are highly addictive. Many people with OxyContin addiction were initially prescribed the drug for pain relief.
What Is OxyContin?
OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, a type of opioid medication often prescribed to those who have severe and debilitating pain. It may be prescribed after an injury or surgical procedure for a short amount of time. For some people, this medication becomes critical to getting through the day.
Unfortunately, OxyContin is one of several drugs that are commonly misused with tragic results. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that almost 50,000 people died in 2019 from overdoses involving the use of opioids, including prescription pain relievers. Knowing that you’re not alone in your battle to stop using this drug is just one step. The next is to know what to do about it.
Signs of OxyContin Addiction
OxyContin slows down the function of the central nervous system, therefore reducing the number of pain signals traveling to the brain. It also creates a sense of euphoria or a high that can often help a person to feel more at ease. When this happens, over time, the brain begins to crave this feeling of euphoria. Some common signs that addiction may be developing include:
- Mood swings, especially when not taking the drug
- Poor decision-making, often pushing personal responsibilities to the side
- Running out of the prescription before it is time to refill
- Doctor shopping – going from one doctor to the next to get more than one prescription
- Hiding how much or when the drug is used
- Stealing medications and other opioids from other people
Someone who is dependent on or addicted to OxyContin will suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the drug. These symptoms may include intense physical pain, mood swings, insomnia, and confusion. Some people also experience more significant struggles such as difficulty concentrating, paranoia, and irregular heartbeats. Some enter into a depressive state, while others become more aggressive.
This is a sign that the body and brain are dependent on the drug. It will take between 7 and 10 days for most people to break that dependence. During this process, the brain has to re-learn how to function without the presence of the drug.
What Happens If You Continue to Use OxyContin?
Long-term use of OxyContin can lead to numerous health complications aside from addiction and dependence. A person using this drug on a routine basis may develop health concerns such as:
- Low blood pressure
- Cognitive function decline
- Kidney and liver failure
- Heart failure
- Cardiac arrest
- Slowed respiration
When the drug is taken long-term, tolerance forms. The body becomes used to the amount of the drug being used and requires more of it to yield the same results. A person may need to increase how often they use their medication or how much they take. This puts them on the path to overdose. The body cannot handle larger doses as this slows down the heart and lung function, often leading to a coma or sudden death.
Treatment for OxyContin Addiction
Treatment for this type of opioid addiction typically includes:
Drug detox programs: This allows your body to safely stop using the drug and also helps alleviate some withdrawal discomfort. You’ll have support as your body works through that process.
Residential treatment programs: During this time, you’ll spend a few weeks or longer in a therapeutic treatment environment away from home where you can address any underlying concerns, such as physical and mental health needs, family issues, and much more.
Outpatient treatment programs: Outpatient treatment can be a primary form of treatment for those whose addiction is less severe. It can also follow residential treatment to support you as you return to your home environment.
We Are Here to Help
It does not matter how your addiction began. What matters is that you take steps today to overcome it. The Ranch at Dove Tree offers a wide range of addiction treatment programs in Lubbock, Texas. If you’ve overdosed, struggled with addiction for a long time, or you’re struggling with mental health disorders as well, allow our dedicated team of professionals to support your recovery.