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  • Oxycontin Addiction | Abuse Potential, Warning Signs, Side Effects, & Treatment Options

    Oxycontin opioid white pills

    Many health care providers use Oxycontin to treat moderate to severe pain. 

    Like other prescription opioids, Oxycontin has a high potential for abuse and addiction. If you or a loved one abuses this painkiller, it’s important to seek help at a drug abuse treatment center. 

    What Is Oxycontin?

    Oxycontin is a brand-name version of an opioid called oxycodone. It belongs to a group of opioids called semi-synthetic opioids, which are synthesized from substances that occur naturally in the opium poppy plant. 

    The medication provides pain relief by changing the way the brain and nervous system react to pain. 

    As with all prescription pain relievers, Oxycontin may cause side effects. The most common side effects include:

    • dry mouth
    • drowsiness
    • headache
    • constipation 
    • nausea and/or vomiting
    • changes in mood

    Oxycontin Abuse

    Because Oxycontin can make you feel relaxed and euphoric, or “high,” some people abuse it. Abusing a drug means using it without following your doctor’s instructions. For example, you might:

    • take it more frequently than prescribed
    • take higher doses than prescribed
    • take it in a manner not prescribed, such as snorting it or injecting it
    • mix it with alcohol or other drugs
    • take it without a prescription

    People who abuse Oxycontin or take it as prescribed for a long time may develop an opioid addiction. Also known as opioid use disorder, this disease makes you feel a loss of control over your use of an opioid (in this case, Oxycontin). 

    Warning Signs Of Oxycontin Addiction

    If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know is addicted to Oxycontin, watch for these warning signs:

    • avoiding friends and family members to spend more time getting and using Oxycontin
    • falling behind at work or school to spend more time getting and using Oxycontin
    • visiting multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of Oxycontin, also known as “doctor shopping”
    • experiencing intense cravings for Oxycontin
    • feeling unable to complete daily tasks without using Oxycontin 

    Side Effects Of Oxycontin Addiction

    When you’re addicted to Oxycontin, your body may build up a tolerance to the drug. This means you’ll need increasingly higher doses over time to feel the desired effects.

    You might also develop a physical dependence, which means your body relies on the drug to function normally. If you try to stop using it, you may notice unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. 

    Along with tolerance and physical dependence, you may experience more intense versions of the drug’s common side effects. 

    For example, while Oxycontin makes most people feel moderately drowsy, those with addiction might suffer from extreme fatigue. 

    They’re also more likely to experience rarer, more serious side effects of Oxycontin:

    • trouble breathing or swallowing
    • chest pain
    • changes in heartbeat
    • rash 
    • irregular menstruation
    • loss of appetite
    • swollen face, eyes, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, ankles, or legs
    • reduced sexual desire or ability
    • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)
    • seizures

    Learn more about the OxyContin Side Effects

    Oxycontin Overdose

    Oxycontin abuse or addiction increases the risk of overdose. Overdose can occur when you take too much Oxycontin. 

    Signs of overdose include:

    • muscle weakness
    • cold, clammy skin
    • extreme drowsiness
    • trouble breathing/respiratory depression
    • pinpoint pupils (very small pupils)
    • confusion
    • loss of consciousness

    An Oxycontin overdose can be fatal. Call for emergency medical services if you or someone else experiences the above symptoms.

    An overdose reversal medication called Naloxone may be administered and can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

    Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms

    If you’re physically dependent on Oxycontin and you try to stop taking it, you may experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms like:

    • sweating
    • watery eyes
    • runny nose
    • anxiety
    • irritability
    • depression
    • insomnia
    • diarrhea
    • muscle or joint pain
    • faster breathing and/or heartbeat

    To avoid or reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, consider a professional detox program before you try to stop using Oxycontin. 

    Although detox programs don’t provide treatment for opioid abuse or addiction, they do help you better manage withdrawal symptoms and stabilize for addiction treatment.

    Oxycontin Addiction Treatment Options

    Even though Oxycontin is a prescription drug, recovering from an addiction to it can be extremely challenging. Substance abuse treatment programs can make recovery easier for addicted individuals as well as their loved ones.

    These programs are available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Inpatient programs are best for people with more severe addictions, while outpatient programs may work for people with milder addictions and strong support systems at home. 

    Behavioral Therapy

    In individual therapy, patients work with mental health professionals to identify triggers for drug use and develop healthy coping skills. 

    Many treatment programs also offer family therapy. This form of counseling helps addicted individuals and their families communicate more effectively and support each other during recovery. 

    Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

    In medication-assisted treatment, medical professionals aim to simplify recovery by prescribing medications such as methadone, clonidine, and buprenorphine. 

    These drugs can ease withdrawal symptoms and help patients detox from Oxycontin more quickly. 

    Peer Support Groups

    Led by addiction treatment specialists, peer support groups allow people who live with opioid addiction and other substance use disorders to share coping tips and feel less alone. To learn more about treatment options for Oxycontin abuse and addiction, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.

    Oxycontin FAQ

    Can You Snort Or Smoke OxyContin?

    You can snort or smoke Oxycontin, but both methods are forms of Oxycontin abuse. Snorting or smoking Oxycontin can cause stronger, faster pain relief, but can also have severe health effects.

    Learn more about Snorting & Smoking Oxycontin

    How Long Does Oxycontin Stay In Your System?

    Oxycontin has a half-life of about 4.5 hours. Half-life is the time it takes for half of a drug to leave your system. However, even once Oxycontin is out of your system, it can still be detected on drug tests. 

    In general, the drug can be detected on a blood test for up to 24 hours after your last dose, on a urine test for up to three days after your last dose, on a saliva test for up to 48 hours after your last dose, and on a hair follicle test for up to 90 days after your last dose. 

    Learn more about Oxycontin Detection Times

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drug Fact Sheet: Oxycodone
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Medication Guide OXYCONTIN
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Opiate and opioid withdrawal
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on March 26, 2022
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