Oxycontin is one of the most powerful opiates on the market today and one of the most addictive. Successful Oxycontin addiction treatment begins with a thorough evaluation of the individual. The high potential for abuse and the drug’s effect on the brain leads to physical dependence after a short period of abuse. A good recovery program is individualized according to the person’s physical, psychological, and emotional state, among other factors. The information obtained from the evaluation reveals factors that led to the person’s addiction, and to their ability to respond to treatment.
Oxycontin, like all opiates, are drugs that are derived from the poppy plant. People often use the terms opiates and opioids to mean the same thing. Technically, opioids are synthetic or partially synthetic drugs, meaning that some or all of the ingredients are made chemically. Both the “natural” opiates and opioids are highly addictive. Dependency occurs quickly, leading to the potential for life-threatening overdoses.
The “high” produced by opioids occurs when the drug attaches to neurons in the brain, blocking messages that tell the body to feel pain. The feelings of euphoria become harder to achieve as the person develops a tolerance to the drug. They feel they need to use more to get the same effects, increasing their risk of respiratory failure and overdose. This is what makes oxycontin such a dangerous drug.
Oxycontin vs. Oxycodone: What’s the Difference?
Oxycontin is the brand name opioid that is prescribed as a pain killer. It has an extended-release mechanism that produces pain relief for up to 12 hours. It is an effective pain medication that provides ongoing relief to patients with severe or chronic pain conditions.
Oxycodone is the active ingredient in Oxycontin. Oxycontin contains a pure concentration of oxycodone, making it very strong and addictive. People who abuse Oxycontin might crush the tablets and ingest them, snort them, or dilute them in water and inject it. These methods of use remove the time-release mechanism and give them the full strength of the drug almost immediately.
Often, oxycodone is combined with other medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Other pain relievers that contain oxycodone include Percocet, Percodan, and Tylox. The strength of Oxycontin makes it the drug of choice for most people who abuse the drug.
How People Get Addicted to Oxycontin
When given as a prescription, Oxycontin doesn’t produce the same effects after repeated use. The patient begins taking larger doses and taking them closer together. The more of the drug they take, the more addicted they become.
The effects of the drug on the brain are long-term. They chain the way the brain works, making it dependent on the drug. Oxycontin activates the reward and pleasure system of the brain, leading to the release of high amounts of dopamine. At the same time, the brain wants to experience the euphoria the drug more frequently, but it takes an increasing amount of it to cause the same effect. This puts the user at a greater risk of overdose.
How Oxycontin Is Classified
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies Oxycontin as a Schedule II drug. Drugs in this class have a high potential for abuse. Also, its use has the potential to lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. The only drugs with a higher potential for abuse are those defined as Schedule I which have no accepted medical use such as heroin and marijuana.
Oxycontin is also a narcotic analgesic, meaning it affects mood or behavior while also providing pain relief. Schedule II drugs are only legally available with a prescription. Many people become addicted when they fail to use their prescription as directed. Because of the potential for abuse, these drugs are tightly monitored by the government. Still, Oxycontin abuse and addiction remain a serious concern today.
People who become addicted to prescription Oxycontin often turn to illicit sources to get their drugs. They may order them online or buy them on the street. These drugs don’t have the regulation that prescription drugs do. It’s impossible to tell what might be in the drug that could be even more dangers than Oxycontin.
Everyone who abuses Oxycontin doesn’t start with a prescription. Some people steal it from a family member’s medicine cabinet. Others start abusing the illegal version of the drug to achieve the euphoric high. Some use the illicit drug to control withdrawal symptoms from morphine or heroin.
Opiate Use Disorder
Professionals often refer to what was formerly called "substance abuse" or "addiction as "substance use disorder." This term applies to any form of a mental health disorder resulting from the use of alcohol, a drug, or other illicit substance. Research has shown that the line between abuse and addiction is not as clearly defined as once believed.
When substance abuse disorder centers around the abuse of an opiate, it is formally classified “opiate use disorder.” The disorder involves several behavioral symptoms that clinicians often use to diagnose the condition, including:
- Continuing the use of opiate drugs despite the drug use causing symptoms of significant distress or functional impairment
- Recurring use of opiates with no medical reason
- Developing a tolerance to the drug
- Several behaviors indicating the individual’s non-medical use of opioids has resulted in their in their dysfunction
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they try to either stop using the drug or significantly or abruptly reduce the amount they use
Oxycontin Addiction Treatment
People with any opioid addiction require a thorough evaluation upon entering treatment. Those who develop opioid use disorders have severe mental health conditions. It’s never advisable to try to stop using Oxycontin on their own. If they have used the drug for several weeks, they probably have a physical dependence on the drug. The clinic should assess the person’s social and living situation, along with a full cognitive evaluation. Identifying the person’s strengths and weaknesses will help the clinicians identify the person’s strengths and weaknesses, along with any mental health disorders or medical conditions.
A treatment plan that is tailored to meet the individual’s specific needs while also providing a basic format for their specific type of addiction is most effective. The format consists of the following steps:
In spite of the overwhelming impact of Oxycontin addiction, people don’t always realize how their addiction affects their lives and those of everyone around them. An intervention is a non-threatening way of confronting the individual with the reality of their situation. The goal is to persuade the person to get help.
Always have an intervention specialist to handle the process for you. They know how to steer the conversation on the important issues. The person might need other interventions during the personalization aspect of the treatment program. Some individuals benefit from alternative forms of therapy such as horseback riding or music therapy. Others help build their self-esteem through volunteer programs.
- Addressing Physical Dependence
Any person who takes an addictive drug over time, either by prescription or illicit use, can develop a physical dependence on it. Recovery begins with detox to remove the addictive substance from the person’s system. During this initial phase of treatment, the person goes through withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to living without the drug. The withdrawal symptoms and their intensity vary among different drugs and the individuals who use them.
Most experts agree that Medical detox is the best option for anyone going through Oxycontin addiction treatment. Medical detox is the administering of a drug to replace the addictive substance. With Oxycontin addiction, the partial opioid buprenorphine is often used. This drug attaches to the same neurons in the brain as the Oxycontin, but it produces fewer effects. Using buprenorphine prevents severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings that usually accompany detox. Since buprenorphine doesn’t cause the euphoric effects caused by Oxycontin, it doesn’t lead to abuse or addiction.
The initial dosage of buprenorphine is high enough to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. The physician will gradually reduce the dosage over periodic intervals to help the person stop taking the Oxycontin altogether. This process extends the treatment period significantly. However, it allows the person to manage their withdrawal symptoms so they can engage more completely in their recovery.
Sometimes the treatment center uses other medications for certain symptoms or for co-occurring conditions. Most often, recovery centers limit medical detox to residential patients. However, medications are sometimes given to patients undergoing outpatient treatment.
- Addiction Therapy
Although medical detox is very beneficial at reducing withdrawal symptoms, no medications treat opioid abuse disorder. Instead, therapy is at the heart of every effective Oxycontin addiction treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often the method of choice. One of the main benefits of CBT is that it allows the therapist to work with the client to identify the causes of their substance use and subsequent abuse and related behaviors.
The therapist develops the person’s individualized treatment plan around this information. The goal of therapy is to address the person’s issues and develop a relapse prevention program that helps them stay drug-free for the long term. The treatment plan also addresses issues like depression, anxiety, and others that might interfere with their recovery. The therapy used to treat substance use disorder might include individual or group therapy, or a combination of the two types.
- Treating Co-Occurring Conditions
Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder often go hand in hand with substance abuse disorder. Treating these co-occurring disorders, along with substance abuse, is imperative. Treating the addiction and not the conditions that led to abuse and addiction in the first place often lead to relapse. Where more than one disorder exists, treating them at the same time is the best approach.
- Getting Support During Treatment
No one should feel like they are alone when going through Oxycontin addiction treatment. The support of family, friends, coworkers, and other people in the patient’s life can have a big impact on their recovery. Another significant area of support is from peers who are experiencing many of the same emotions and fears. Peer support groups proved an outlet for the recovering individual to engage in discussions and activities that facilitate their recovery.
Support groups are especially beneficial as part of an aftercare program. They provide the patient with ongoing support, even after formal therapy ends.
- Other Forms of Support
Other types of support, such as transportation to therapy sessions, placement services, and a source of financial assistance also help make Oxycontin addiction treatment more effective. Any service that helps the individual maintain consistent participation in the recovery program will help make it more effective.
Recovery for substance abuse doesn’t end with the end of therapy. Most achieve the best outcomes when they continue participating in a recovery program for several years after being abstinent. This is why using every tool available throughout the treatment and after recovery is vital to the success of any addiction treatment program.
During early detox, the person might experience any or all of the following symptoms:
- Mood Changes
- Sleep Problems
- Muscle Aches and Cramps
- Symptoms of a Cold or Flu
Later symptoms tend to be more severe and might include:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Abdominal Cramps
- Reduced Appetite
- Dilate Pupils
- Blurred Vision
- High Blood Pressure
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Shivering or Goosebumps
Withdrawal from Oxycontin isn’t usually life-threatening, it is very uncomfortable. For many people, the fear of withdrawal is the biggest obstacle to recovery. It contributes to the high likelihood of relapse following a treatment program. Medical detox is essential for helping the patient manage their recovery throughout the detox, therapy, and ongoing stages of recovery.
The last dose of oxycontin begins to wear off between 12 and 24 hours of the last dose. In some people, withdrawal begins as early as four to eight hours after the last dose. Total withdrawal usually takes between one and two weeks. While some people experience severe flu-like symptoms, they usually have more typical withdrawal symptoms on the second day of treatment. Generally, it takes three days before the most acute symptoms to clear up. In some people, they last for two weeks or longer.
You should never attempt to undergo detox from Oxycontin on your own. Contact Clean & Sober Recovery Services to learn more about our Oxycontin addiction treatment near Sacramento, California. Our treatment program is proven to help patients learn the skills they need to live alcohol- and drug-free.
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