Opioid addiction across the United States has exploded into something doctors would have never imagined back in the 1990s. Each year, the number of people struggling with opioid addiction continues to rise as we watch more people succumbing to fatal overdoses.
Unfortunately, overdoses have become the leading cause of death for individuals under age 50. These numbers have overtaken high casualty sources that include car accidents or violence by firearms. Although various factors have contributed to this epidemic, opioids seem to be at the core of the issue.
Opioids like OxyContin have medicinal purposes; however, the use of this medicine can lead to abuse. The goal of OxyContin is to treat moderate-to-severe pain symptoms, but when it’s abused and taken in higher doses than a doctor prescribes, it can cause a rush of euphoric effects.
Some professionals compare using the medication with taking heroin each day, which isn’t too far off when considering the similarity of effects. OxyContin addiction is a severe issue that could lead to heroin or fentanyl abuse.
An estimated 128 people die each day from opioid overdose across the United States, and prescription drugs like OxyContin have contributed significantly to this crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 80 percent of heroin users tried OxyContin before moving to heroin.
Despite the problem, opioids are still prescribed in vast quantities each year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted data that shows 17 percent of Americans filled an opioid prescription in 2017.
Maintaining an OxyContin addiction is not only expensive, but it can lead to serious consequences, such as theft or jail time. One of the primary reasons an individual will move on from the prescription drug is because a doctor has cut them off, and they cannot afford the black market’s costs. Heroin or fentanyl are cheaper alternatives that provide similar effects.
As was mentioned earlier, prescription drug abuse is a primary factor in heroin or fentanyl addiction.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to a person struggling with OxyContin addiction. If you are looking for help and resources for a better life, continue reading to learn more about the signs of opioid addiction and how it’s treated.
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OxyContin is the potent, extended-release version of oxycodone, which is an immediate-release opioid. Oxycodone is designed for short-term pain treatment, while OxyContin is prescribed for long-term treatment of pain.
OxyContin is prescribed to treat pain associated with chronic illness, surgery, or cancer. When the drug is abused, it can produce powerful effects that leave the user looking for more. Although most of those prescribed the drug won’t become addicted or abuse their medication, some people still fall victim to its effects.
OxyContin works by interacting with natural opioid receptors to stop pain signals from reaching the brain. Opioids will attach to “binding sites” typically reserved for naturally occurring endorphins throughout the body. The strength of opioids is much greater than natural endorphins, which leads to OxyContin, causing feelings of relaxation, sedation, and euphoria.
Prolonged abuse of OxyContin will lead to both chemical dependency and addiction. If you’ve developed a dependence on the drug, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms similar to the flu, accompanied by intense cravings.
The severity of withdrawals will depend on the dosage, length, and frequency of the drug’s use. If you plan on stopping chronic OxyContin use, you must seek professional addiction treatment to avoid relapse.
OxyContin addiction is a disease that can lead to catastrophic consequences. Fortunately, warning signs can indicate a growing problem. Learning these signs can be the difference between life and death.
The first sign of an OxyContin addiction is when the body becomes tolerant of the drug, which means you’ll need to take more than when you first started to reach your desired effect.
If you notice that your dose has less of an effect than it used to, you should speak to your primary care physician to find a solution. It could mean gradually cutting back the dosage to reduce tolerance. If this is unsuccessful, it might be a sign you’ve become chemically dependent on OxyContin—another and more serious sign of addiction.
Chemical dependency is described as feelings of discomfort or intense cravings that overtake your thoughts when trying to reduce your dosage or stop altogether. Opioid withdrawal is accompanied by a host of symptoms that mimic the flu, including nausea, body aches, and vomiting.
If you continue using the drug despite these warning signs or increase the dosage against your doctors’ wishes, it might indicate you’ve developed an addiction.
Although addiction is related to dependency, the two are very different. Addiction is defined as continued use of a substance despite adverse consequences, meaning if you are arrested for theft in relation to OxyContin and continue using, you’ve jumped passed dependency and become thoroughly addicted.
Fortunately, treatment options exist in these situations that can help you overcome OxyContin addiction.
Addiction treatment may seem complicated, but the goal is simple: address the issues affecting the person and resolve them. These problems may range from social, psychological, biological, financial, or legal. Fortunately, the process of addiction treatment aims to cover all of these categories and bring stability to a person’s life.
The initial step when seeking addiction treatment for OxyContin addiction is to address the medical conditions affecting someone. Opioids aren’t notorious for being fatal during the withdrawal process, but symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable, which is the most significant barrier to sobriety. Without help, the chances of relapse are extreme, which can be fatal.
OxyContin withdrawal will be consistent with symptoms of the flu and can lead to dehydration. For this reason, amongst others, medical detox is vital and is often the first stage of treatment. Detox will provide the client with 24-hour care that helps alleviate the discomfort experienced during OxyContin withdrawal. The length of time in detox can range from three to seven days, depending on the severity of the addiction. It is an ideal situation for those with injuries or infections that need immediate medical attention.
Once the detox process is complete, and the stability of the body and mind is achieved, the client will be connected to the next level of care fit for their immediate needs. This could include on-site residential services if the client requires 24-hour supervision. Various factors will influence these decisions that only a licensed clinician can make.
Another option is outpatient treatment, where a person will live off-site while attending therapy sessions. It may be beneficial for those without a history of relapse, that use work or school as a barrier to getting help, and with a minor addiction.
No matter where the client is placed, they will go through a combination of individual, group, and behavioral therapies to help them gain confidence as they learn to live without OxyContin addiction. These therapies will address relapse prevention and how to cope with triggers.
Shaffer, H. J. (2017, June 8). What is addiction? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-addiction-2017061911870
Oxycodone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html
(2018, December 19). Opioid Overdose. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/relationship-between-prescription-drug-heroin-abuse/prescription-opioid-use-risk-factor-heroin-use
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis