OxyContin Abuse: Withdrawal Effects of OxyContin & More
Clinically Reviewed by:
13 January, 2023
OxyContin is the trade name for the opioid painkiller oxycodone hydrochloride and is available only by prescription. Medical practitioners prescribe it to ensure relief from moderate to severe pain due to neuralgia, cancer, arthritis, bursitis, and injuries. However, some people engage in Oxycontin abuse to experience a euphoric effect that is similar to heroin.
For many, this form of drug abuse is a gateway into street opioids like heroin and Fentanyl. It's also been a major driver of the opioid epidemic. OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone. Because it's trapped so many people into opioid addiction, oxycodone is one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse.
As it falls under the category of prescription drug abuse, it can cause severe consequences. Discussed below, are more details about OxyContin abuse, its withdrawal symptoms, and its prevention.
What is OxyContin Abuse?
OxyContin, an opioid painkiller, has also been called a miracle drug. It provides relief for those suffering from consistent pain. OxyContin abuse is known to create feelings of euphoria and extreme pleasure for the one using it. This feeling of euphoria and extreme happiness leads to the person consuming this drug continuously more than prescribed. Most OxyContin users consume this drug to relieve themselves from emotional suffering and to ensure faster results.
Withdrawal from this drug leads to depression (as well as other withdrawal symptoms) which further leads to more drug abuse.
How Does OxyContin Addiction Happen?
The extended release of OxyContin makes this drug less addictive but using it in other ways other than prescribed increases the risks of drug addiction. When an individual uses it as directed by a medical practitioner, it works slowly for several hours and then provides an effect. Following are the ways abusers use it to create addiction:
To avoid the controlled-release feature of this drug, abusers either crush or chew it.
Extreme abusers snort or dissolve OxyContin in water and inject it. As they experience the complete effect of OxyContin, it leads to drug addiction.
Furthermore, individuals prone to OxyContin abuse tend to develop drug tolerance symptoms. When there is tolerance, the drug dose an individual usually takes doesn't create the desired effect. This triggers the abuser to increase their dosage without a prescription or monitoring so that they can feel "high."
What is OxyContin Withdrawal?
Prolonged OxyContin abuse leads to dependence and addiction, and individuals might face withdrawal symptoms when they cease taking the drug. Opioid withdrawal is a combination of mental and physical effects an individual experiences when they wish to stop taking a drug with increased potential dependency abruptly.
The intensity and the duration of the withdrawal signs vary from person to person and depend totally upon the type of drug, the use of a drug, and even one's genetics. Withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin are extremely dangerous in some instances. Therefore, one should immediately consult a doctor as soon as they notice signs of withdrawal.
What are the Symptoms of OxyContin Withdrawal?
As per World Drug Report 2019, there are about 35 million illegal drug abusers globally who suffer from drug use disorder, and the number is increasing rapidly. These include substance abusers and prescription drug abusers as well. While some wish to withdraw the use of the drug after continuous treatment for drug abuse, the withdrawal signs are not pleasant enough.
According to research, the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin are extremely dangerous, often leading to suicidal thoughts in a person. Below are the other signs of OxyContin withdrawal:
As the users become addicted to OxyContin abuse, stopping the consumption leads to extreme restlessness. In addition, since they speed up the central nervous system, people have the urge to intake the drug, which is a severe sign of drug abuse withdrawal.
Severe Bone and Muscle Pain
Another significant sign of OxyContin abuse withdrawal is severe muscle and bone pain, which increases sensitivity to the pain. This further contributes to muscle weakness, tenderness, and cramping.
Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
As an individual continuously uses OxyContin, there are higher chances of increased heart rate and high blood pressure. This is followed by sweating and irregular heart rhythm, often causing unconsciousness.
Insomnia or sleep problems happen during OxyContin abuse withdrawal because an individual’s body is out of its normal rhythm due to the effects of drug abuse. This also causes physical weakness in the body, and the person is unable to conduct daily life activities.
Diarrhea and Vomiting
A major side effect of OxyContin withdrawal, individuals experience diarrhea and vomiting or nausea as the brain is compelled to readjust to the sudden absence of the drug. People also experience inflammation of the intestinal lining, causing health to deteriorate further.
Cold Flashes and Flu
Abrupt discontinuation of OxyContin also results in flu and cold flashes and often leads to chills due to high fever. Unfortunately, this also leads to a weak body and deterioration of the health of the user of this drug.
Apart from the signs mentioned above, individuals also experience additional symptoms such as involuntary leg movements, severe respiratory problems, uncontrolled body aches, anxiety, and dysphoria. Moreover, people who use injections for OxyContin abuse tend to expose themselves to added risks, including contraction of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and C, and other viruses.
What are the Factors Affecting OxyContin Withdrawal?
According to data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, people of all age groups are involved in OxyContin abuse. In addition, approximately 1 million users in the U.S. aged below 12 years use this drug illegally, leading to teen drug abuse. Although withdrawal signs of this drug abuse vary from person to person, here are some of the factors affecting withdrawal symptoms:
The onset of Drug Intake
One of the major factors affecting the withdrawal symptom is the onset of drug intake. Therefore, if a person is addicted to OxyContin for a long time period, they will face extreme withdrawal symptoms and vice versa.
The intensity of Drug Intake
Frequent abusers of OxyContin face more difficulties during their withdrawal phase. As their body has adapted to the intake, it becomes difficult to return to a normal phase again.
Type of Drug Used
Short-acting and long-acting drugs are significant factors leading to withdrawal symptoms. OxyContin abuse leads to long-lasting effects, and hence, people using them find difficulty during withdrawal.
History of Withdrawal
If a person has a history of withdrawal, they have a chance to develop it for the second time, too, if they have continued taking the drug.
A person's health issue also plays a critical role during withdrawal. For example, if a person is under severe mental trauma or illness or under some chronic pain, they are likely to suffer more withdrawal issues than others.
What is OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an individual can experience a withdrawal from OxyContin abuse that lasts from days to weeks. The symptoms generally start 2 to 4 days after one has taken the last dosage, pick speed after 72 to 96 hours and subside by 2 weeks. However, some symptoms resolve after 14 days, but individuals who experience long-term withdrawal symptoms generally experience that the symptoms stay for months.
How to Diagnose OxyContin Withdrawal?
A medical practitioner might diagnose withdrawal depending on an individual's symptoms and after conducting a proper examination. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a doctor will follow the below criteria to diagnose withdrawal:
Individuals have stopped taking heavy OxyContin for several weeks or have received an OxyContin antagonist that reverses the effects of the drug.
One has four or more symptoms of drug withdrawal within days of abruptly ceasing to intake of the drug.
The symptoms are seriously affecting daily life activities and causing deterioration of mental and physical health.
Doctors ensure that these symptoms are not happening due to any other medical or mental condition.
Doctors use Clinical Opioid Withdrawal Scale (COWS) to test the seriousness of OxyContin abuse. It includes 11 specific symptoms, and each is provided a figure as they add up to a total of 47.
What are the OxyContin Withdrawal Treatment Procedures?
Ideal treatment centers suggest the following treatment procedures to handle the withdrawal of OxyContin abuse:
Individuals must be under intensive critical care for 24 hours when they withdraw from such drugs. This is due to the potential for extreme suffering and safety concerns.
People withdrawing from such drug abuse and drug addiction have risks of severe complications such as uncontrolled aches, anxiety attacks, cardiac arrests, dehydration, and even suicide. Therefore, a caregiver must always be there to assist and handle such episodes.
Medical detox is the first step in recovery from drug abuse and withdrawal. It is an effective treatment procedure that allows an individual's body to return to a medically stable condition and in a supportive environment. Continuous support, medication, and supervision in medical detox help an individual stay comfortable.
Therapies and Counseling
Through extensive drug abuse counseling, rehabs help individuals address their issues that led them to this addiction and hence withdrawal. Apart from that, rehabs and treatment centers also follow behavioral therapies and motivational interviewing, which teaches a person, specific skills to help them adapt to a positive change.
Change in Lifestyle
Opting for pleasant walks, moderate exercises, meditation, and yoga helps a person embrace the positive aspects of life. As the body and mind balance, it keeps off any distractions and keeps the mind away from any symptoms, thus contributing to progress. Additionally, a person should have frequent snacks and meals, including healthy food, and drink plenty of water that will benefit their system.
Apart from detox, abusers seek rehab for drug abuse that provides comprehensive treatment programs through five treatment phases. They also involve these abusers in fun-filled activities such as trekking, yoga, beach walking, etc., to help them gain self-confidence and progress towards betterment.
Here are all the details of OxyContin abuse and the withdrawal symptoms that heavily affect the mind and body of a person. Following the treatment measures will help in coming out of such symptoms. However, whenever there are severe episodes where the situation is not under control, one should seek immediate medical help.
Don't Risk an Opioid Overdose: Get Treatment for OxyContin Abuse Today at The Edge Treatment Center
The Edge Treatment Center provides expert dual diagnosis care for OxyContin Addiction. They do this through individualized treatment plans, evidence-based care, and building a sense of community. We also arrange frequent outside trips and adventures to strengthen bonds, create new healthy relationships, and prove recovery can (and should be!) fun.
Contact The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does drug addiction affect a person physically and mentally?
Drug addiction adversely affects a person's psychological and behavioral changes, by causing functional changes in the brain, affecting individuals' thought processes, motivation, decision-making ability, and drive.
What are the complications of OxyContin withdrawal in pregnant women?
OxyContin abuse withdrawal causes severe complications in pregnant women, often leading to death. In addition, it may cause bleeding or leaking of amniotic fluid in pregnant women, which is a severe issue.
What are the medicines used to manage withdrawal symptoms?
During the medical detox period (withdrawal therapy), doctors suggest that a patient use methadone, clonidine, buprenorphine, and lofexidine.
How does family therapy help in dealing with the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin?
Family and friends are the most critical aspects of an individual's life, which get affected when an individual becomes a drug addict. Extensive family therapy and one-on-one discussion extends support and helps an abuser open up.
Why is aftercare necessary after recovering from withdrawal symptoms?
The recovery process is long-term and requires extensive care and support. Therefore, aftercare is a must to help an OxyContin abuser stay sober and committed to the recovery process.