Struggling with Oxycontin Addiction
Drug maker Purdue Pharma introduced Oxycontin in 1996 to fill a gap in the market. Other opioids available at that time came on strong, but wore off fairly quickly, forcing people with chronic pain to get up in the middle of the night and take their medication. Oxycontin, on the other hand, was formulated to release its dose of oxycodone (the active ingredient) over a 12-hour period. Because of this, and because Oxycontin doesn’t deliver a front-loaded “hit” to its users that’s typical of addictive drugs, like Oxycontin’s close relative heroin, Purdue marketed its new painkiller as an addiction-free alternative to other prescription opioids. Unfortunately, users quickly developed methods for extracting the pills’ active ingredient, Oxycontin addiction, which leads to over 180,000 emergency room visits in the United States each year.
Gradual Oxycontin Addiction
Addiction to Oxycontin usually begins innocently, with a doctor’s prescription for chronic pain management. Over time, many users discover that their 12-hour dose has become less effective, forcing them to take the pill more often. Eventually, before the new hard-to-grind pill came onto the market, some people took to pulverizing their Oxycontin tablets with a spoon and either snorting or swallowing it.
After the formula for making the pills was changed to prevent this practice, users who had become dependent on Oxycontin responded by either boiling the pills to dissolve them faster or by simply taking more of them to get a higher dose. This usually leads to an early shortfall in the prescribed supply of the drug, which leads many to resort to either unethical means of getting more, or to seeking out other, similar drugs like heroin to fill the void.
In its original form, Oxycontin is difficult to abuse. It does not produce a noticeable high at the time of dosage, and the oxycodone in the pill is released slowly over the 12 hours following ingestion. When the original pills were ground up, however, users discovered they could get the entire 12-hour dose at once by swallowing or snorting it. This dramatically increases the risks, not only of immediate overdose but of chemical dependency and long-term addiction.
At relatively low dosage levels, Oxycontin produces signs of use that can be similar to those of heroin abuse:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Confusion or lethargy
- At higher levels, an overdose of the drug can induce much more serious symptoms, including:
- Labored breathing
- Liver damage
- Overdose and death
As with any drug that causes dependence, Oxycontin withdrawal can be very difficult. Symptoms of withdrawal are very similar to those of heroin. Suddenly discontinuing use of the drug can cause insomnia, constipation, and anxiety. People going through withdrawal often require medical supervision in some kind of residential inpatient facility and may need to be closely monitored during the first few days without the drug.
As difficult as the process can be, treatment for Oxycontin addiction has to start the same way all drug addiction treatments do: with an initial period of detox. This period, when the residual traces of the drug are gradually flushed from a person’s system, is different for every patient. Some people rapidly detoxify over a period of a few days by completely withdrawing from use, while others require a more gradual withdrawal. Tapering off in this way extends the detox period, but most patients find it easier to manage the somewhat milder symptoms this approach causes.
After the initial detox for Oxycontin addiction, the real work of lifelong recovery can begin. People starting their recovery have several options for staying sober. Behavior modification and cognitive behavioral therapy approaches provide one-on-one counseling. During this treatment, the patient is encouraged to examine the stressors that lead them to abuse Oxycontin, as well as to learn techniques to help prevent relapses. Other common long-term treatments, such as 12-step, connect people struggling with addiction with a sponsor who is somewhat further along in their recovery and can talk the addict through daily strategies to stay sober.
Life After Oxycontin Addiction
The immediate symptoms of Oxycontin addiction last as long as the drug is being taken, but they fade relatively quickly after the user finishes the detox period. Oxycontin addiction, on the other hand, is a much more long-term problem that requires a lifetime of vigilance to stay sober. As with every addiction, the first step has to be the decision to seek help. After that, with a stay in residential care and an effective plan for lifelong sobriety, many people struggling with Oxycontin addiction recover and find a new lease on life.
Call Lumiere Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with an Oxycontin addiction in Florida, give Lumiere Detox Center a call now at 855-535-8501. The specialists at our detox and treatment program in Florida are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about the admissions process. Break free from addiction now and live the life you are destined for.