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OxyContin Addiction: Signs, Withdrawal, Detox & Treatment

Written by Theresa Valenzky

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

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Last Updated - 10/25/2022

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Updated 10/25/2022

Treatment for OxyContin addiction can help reduce the dangerous side effects of OxyContin and increase your chances of quitting the prescription opioid.

OxyContin is a brand-name drug with an opioid component — oxycodone. OxyContin is considered highly addictive and leads to physical dependence as well. The use and misuse of OxyContin and other opioids can be life-threatening.

The opioid problem in the U.S. is currently described as an epidemic. Since 1999, the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. has quadrupled. In 2020, nearly 92,000 people in the U.S. died from drug-involved overdoses, including prescription opioids like OxyContin.

OxyContin addiction treatment can help reduce the uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin and increase your chances of permanently quitting the prescription opioid.

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What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin’s primary active ingredient is oxycodone — a prescription narcotic. Oxycodone is intended to be used for moderate-to-severe pain relief, but it has the potential for misuse and addiction. The brand name OxyContin is a long-acting, extended-release tablet version of oxycodone. OxyContin can provide up to 12 hours of pain relief, often used for chronic conditions. By contrast, immediate-release oxycodone is taken every four to six hours.

As an opioid, when someone uses OxyContin or other products with oxycodone, they work on opioid receptors on nerve cells. These receptors are found in the brain, gut, spinal cord and other body parts. Opioids can block pain messages sent from the body to the brain. While opioids effectively relieve pain, the risk of addiction is especially high when used for long periods.

OxyContin Abuse and Addiction

OxyContin use increases the risk of abuse and addiction because of its impact on the brain. When someone uses opioids, they trigger the activation of the brain’s natural reward system. The chemicals from OxyContin can trigger the same brain processes that reward someone when they engage in basic life functions, like eating and sex. While opioids are prescribed to treat pain, if they activate the reward processes, especially without the presence of pain, they motivate repeated use just for pleasure. The more someone uses OxyContin or other opioids, the more their brain becomes dependent on them. That leads someone to use more and more to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can occur otherwise.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, people of all ages misuse OxyContin. Based on findings of the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, nearly one million U.S. residents 12 and older reported using OxyContin nonmedically at least once. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, OxyContin abuse is especially high among high school students. In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people misused opioids over the past year, including OxyContin. Of those, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain medicines, and 745,000 reported heroin use. Street names for OxyContin and oxycodone include:

  • Hillbilly heroin
  • Kicker
  • OC
  • Ox
  • Roxy
  • Oxy

Signs of OxyContin Addiction

Some of the possible physical signs of OxyContin addiction a person may experience include:

  • Respiratory depression (slow breathing rate)
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Sweating
  • Sleep apnea
  • Constricted (small) pupils

Behavioral signs of addiction to OxyContin include:

  • Doctor shopping to try and find one who will prescribe opioids
  • Frequent confusion
  • Stealing from other people or pharmacies
  • Engaging in illegal activities to get money or experiencing financial troubles
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Spending time alone and avoiding friends and family
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Sleeping at strange hours
  • Legal troubles
  • Neglecting personal care or hygiene
  • Problems and conflicts in relationships
  • Continuing to use opioids despite psychological or physical problems stemming from the use
  • Tolerance, meaning a larger amount is needed to get the same desired effects
  • Cravings
  • Persistently wanting to or trying to cut down or control the use of opioids
  • Taking larger amounts than intended
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if cutting back

OxyContin Short-term and Long-term Side Effects

When someone uses opioids, they might feel relaxed and euphoric in the short term. Other short-term effects of OxyContin and other opioids include:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation

If someone’s breathing slows too much, it can lead to hypoxia. Hypoxia means too little oxygen is getting to the brain. Hypoxia can lead to coma, brain damage or death.

Long-term effects of OxyContin can include:

  • Dependence
  • Addiction
  • Gastrointestinal effects include severe constipation and bowel obstruction
  • Sleep-disordered breathing, including sleep apnea
  • Higher risk of heart conditions
  • Excessive pain sensitivity
  • Increased risk of bone fractures
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reduced testosterone
  • Reduced immune system function
  • Increased risk of overdose death
  • Higher risk of all-cause mortality

Treatment for OxyContin Addiction

When someone is addicted to OxyContin, it’s difficult to stop using it alone without professional treatment. Opioid addiction, because it affects the brain and hijacks the reward system, often requires a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan. It’s also important to treat the underlying causes of the initial addiction.

Medical Detox

When someone is dependent on opioids, they might experience withdrawal when they stop using them. Withdrawal symptoms occur because the brain and body become accustomed to the presence of the substance. They depend on it to function “normally.” When the opioid is withdrawn, the body struggles to return to how it functioned before, which is why a person may experience symptoms. Opioid withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening condition. Early withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin can include:

  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose

Later symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goosebumps

Since OxyContin withdrawal can be difficult and uncomfortable, medical detox is often recommended. Otherwise, trying to withdraw on your own is dangerous and difficult. A medical detox program might include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and medical support. Medicines that can be used during medical detox include methadone and buprenorphine, which can be long-term maintenance drugs to help with continuing to abstain from opioids even after detox. Naltrexone is another MAT option intended to help prevent relapse.

Inpatient Treatment

Following medical detox, a person with an addiction to OxyContin might begin inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is residential, so patients live onsite through their behavioral therapy and other parts of treatment. When someone receives inpatient treatment, they can focus solely on their recovery. They’re in a comfortable, safe and managed environment. Inpatient treatment can include a combination of individualized holistic treatment approaches.

Outpatient Treatment

Addiction treatment can happen on an outpatient basis, either after someone completes inpatient rehab or as the first treatment step for less severe addiction. Outpatient treatment lets participants continue their other responsibilities, and they can return home in the evenings. While outpatient rehab is generally more flexible than an inpatient program, there are different levels of care. For example, intensive outpatient programs offer more treatment hours.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual diagnosis treatment is when someone is diagnosed with an addiction to drugs or alcohol and a mental health disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment includes medical support for addiction, comprehensive counseling and treatment for mental health conditions. A dual diagnosis treatment program can consist of an assessment, medical detox and a personalized treatment plan. A co-occurring mental health condition can negatively affect treatment if not addressed in dual diagnosis rehab.

Aftercare and Sober Living

When you’re in recovery from OxyContin addiction, it’s a long-term process that requires an ongoing effort. Ensuring that productive, healthy habits are established and reinforced after treatment ends are important, which is why aftercare should be part of any program. Aftercare plans often include a relapse prevention plan, follow-ups, referrals to continue therapy and medical care, support groups and recovery resources, which can help improve someone’s likelihood of maintaining long-term recovery.

About Our Treatment Center for OxyContin Addiction

The Recovery Village at Baptist Health offers a wide range of program options to help if you’re struggling with OxyContin addiction or any other substance use disorder. We provide evidence-based addiction treatment and dual diagnosis care. Our programs are personalized, and we have onsite amenities that promote healing and wellness. Our goal is to offer compassionate care and provide each patient with the tools they need to start their recovery journey. We believe anyone can recover from an addiction, but it’s a disease requiring the appropriate care.

At The Recovery Village at Baptist Health, we’re in-network with most private insurance providers. We have an insurance verification tool you can use to check your benefits. If you don’t have private insurance, you may be able to access addiction treatment through a government-funded health insurance policy, a state or local government program or other funding options.

Our Facilities

We have two South Florida facilities — The Recovery Village Miami at Baptist Health and The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health. Each features a comfortable and well-appointed environment. At our Miami location, levels of available care include:

  • Medical detoxification
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Inpatient rehabilitation
  • Intensive outpatient programming (IOP)
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • Partial hospitalization programming
  • Outpatient programs
  • Teletherapy
  • Aftercare planning

Our Palm Beach location offers inpatient/residential rehab in addition to these levels of care. Our residential programs are customized and include nutritious meals, rooms that will make you feel at home and relaxing spaces with comfortable lounges. There are both indoor and outdoor amenities. We understand how physically and mentally challenging and demanding treatment can be, so we do everything to ensure you can feel rested and rejuvenated during your time with us.

Get OxyContin Addiction Treatment

If you’re ready to learn more about OxyContin addiction treatment and how we can help you regain control of your life, please contact us today. We can teach you more about the treatment programs that could work well for you or your loved one’s needs. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

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