OxyContin is the branded formula of oxycodone. It is given to people to manage moderate to severe pain. When used correctly, it is usually safe and effective. When abused, this opioid can be deadly.
It is estimated that around 2 million people in the United States are addicted to or abuse prescription painkillers like OxyContin and about 50 painkiller-involved deaths occur every day. Many opioid abusers turn to heroin when they’re unable to get opioid pain killers because heroin provides a similar high, it’s less expensive and easier to get. One study shows that people addicted to opioid painkillers were 19 times more likely to start abusing heroin in the year prior to the study.
Signs and Symptoms of opioid drug abuse include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Pinpoint pupils
- The appearance of being disoriented or confused
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Weight loss
- Slurred speech
- Severe itching
- Intermittent, periodic euphoria and apathy
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Sleep apnea
When a loved one is battling addiction you are bound to notice a difference in his or her behavior. You are also likely to notice various evidence of addiction such as empty pill bottles or missing/stolen pills and/or see the addict struggle with ongoing financial problems. There are many signs of addiction. If you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction don’t wait to get help.
One of the best ways to determine if someone is on OxyContin or other opioids is to look out for withdrawal symptoms which include the following:
- Running nose and eyes
- Unpleasant mood
Effects of OxyContin Abuse
There is a range of physical and social effects of long-term OxyContin abuse. According to the DSM-5 the following physical and social effects are sometimes caused by OxyContin use or dependence:
Physical Effects Associated with Different Methods of Use
- Intranasal Users
- Chronic sinusitis
- Perforation of the nasal septum
- Needle Users (e.g, intravenous, subcutaneous, intramuscular use)
- Pericarditis (infection of the lining of the heart)
- Greatly increased risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV
- Damaged or collapsed veins
*Although OxyContin is generally snorted it is sometimes injected. Injecting OxyContin can cause serious problems on its own when bits of the crushed pills enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection and/or loss of blood supply to vital organs.
- Rigid muscles
- Loss of regular hormone function
- Sexual dysfunction
- Respiratory problems
- Digestive problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulties or breakdown of relationships
- Difficulties at work or loss of employment
OxyContin Abuse Treatment
Today there are various treatment options for OxyContin dependence. The best treatment for you will depend on your individual needs. Here are some examples of some treatment settings and approaches available:
Inpatient (Residential) Treatment: Live at the facility full-time while receiving comprehensive recovery treatment. Residential treatment allows the individual to escape the environment associated with his or her drug use and truly focus on recovery. Inpatient treatment is generally advised for moderate to severe addictions.
Outpatient Treatment: Live at home and travel to and from the rehab with a treatment schedule that works for you. This option is suited for those with relatively mild OxyContin addiction.
Group Counseling: Patients and a mental health professional gather in group therapy sessions to share experiences of addiction and recovery and learn skills and tools to help battle OxyContin dependence.
Individual Counseling: One-on-one therapy is available if you prefer more private or intensive counseling in addition to or instead of group therapy.
Dual Diagnosis: It is very common to suffer from a mental health disorder alongside an OxyContin addiction. Some treatment centers specialize in treating these co-occurring mental health issues to better prevent future relapse.
Regardless of your treatment setting, the recovery process will usually happen in three stages:
- Detox, or withdrawal, is the first stage of OxyContin recovery. Medicine is available in supervised, inpatient settings that can improve the patient’s comfort during this stage.
- Therapy usually begins once the addict is stable and physically free of the drug. There are many approaches to therapy. Make sure you find an approach that works for you.
- The final stage of OxyContin rehab is staying sober through the attendance or participation in an aftercare program following the completion of rehab. This could be a 12-step program, a sober living environment, or a halfway house. These environments provide social support and a place to stay that is committed to being drug-free.
Teen OxyContin Use
Teenagers are especially susceptible to OxyContin abuse because the drug is often readily available in one’s own home or the homes of friends. It is common for abuse to begin by taking pills that were legitimately prescribed to someone the user knows. Teens sometimes incorrectly assume that because a doctor prescribed the drug to one person that it is safe for another to consume. This leads to high numbers of teens abusing prescription painkillers like OxyContin. Here are some numbers regarding adolescent use of prescription opioids according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine:
- Each day, 2,500 adolescents abuse prescription opioids for the first time
- 1 in 30 high school seniors have abused OxyContin
Get help immediately if you suspect teen drug abuse.