OxyContin addiction hit the United States hard in the early 2000’s with widespread reports of abuse and addiction to this painkiller intended to manage pain around the clock. Because OxyContin came in an extended release formulation, the oxycodone it contained was released slowly over a 12-hour period. However, many people began to crush and snort, or dissolve and inject the pill, delivering a massive amount of oxycodone all at once. This epidemic of OxyContin addiction began in the Midwestern parts of the country, and quickly spread like wildfire throughout the nation. Labeled as “hillbilly heroin”, OxyContin addiction was widespread and claiming lives with overdoses at every corner of the country and across all demographics.
Effects Of OxyContin
OxyContin is a powerful narcotic painkiller, which contains oxycodone, and it is intended to manage moderate to severe pain. Although OxyContin is effective for pain management, its euphoric effects are the same as those associated with other painkillers and heroin. As a depressant drug, the effects of OxyContin on the body and its functions are also identical to those of other painkillers and heroin. Some of the effects of OxyContin include:
- Shallow breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constricted (pinpoint) pupils
- Heavy limbs
- Difficulty staying awake, with intermittent periods of sleep (nodding off)
- Slurred speech
- Heavy eyelids
The euphoric effects of OxyContin reinforce repetition in a user, whether there is a medical justification or not. Most individuals who tae OxyContin for medical purposes, and use it only as directed, do not become addicted to the drug, and can safely withdraw from it with little to no problems. However, when individuals take OxyContin with the intention of experiencing the euphoria and getting high, they are at a severely increased risk of developing a psychological addiction much faster than any other demographic of users.
Contrarily, the effects of OxyContin withdrawal can be just as intense and severe as the effects of using the drug. Beginning in as little as 12 hours after the last dose (depending on the amounts, frequency and method of OxyContin use), withdrawal can be excruciating and uncomfortable with symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle pain and spasms
- High fever
- Dilated pupils
- Intense cravings
- Cold sweats
- Extreme agitation
While none of these symptoms are life threatening, they can lead to dangerous and destructive behaviors, the most common of which is using more OxyContin to ease the pain and discomfort.
Addiction is a progressive and fatal disease if treatment is not received, and as the most commonly abused painkiller, OxyContin addiction has claimed thousands of lives prematurely. When individuals become addicted to OxyContin, they are immediately placed in a precarious situation with how they will maintain an addiction to a medication that is only legally available through legitimate prescriptions from licensed doctors. However, as with anything else, where there is a demand, there will be a supply. There are several ways for OxyContin addicts to continue to acquire the drug without legitimate medical justification.
Pill mills are any medical practice, whether a clinic or sole practitioner, that literally sells prescriptions for controlled substances, including OxyContin for cash without any examination or justification. Doctors who engage in pill mill-type transactions are not uncommon, although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to crack down on these doctors, publicly posting a list of the cases brought against said practitioners, and crimes for which they were charged.
This occurs when an individual obtains prescriptions from multiple doctors for OxyContin, and ha them filled at different pharmacies, to avoid suspicion. Typically, doctor shopping takes place with individuals who have some kind of documented pain issue, the treatment for which OxyContin may be indicated.
Friends and Family
OxyContin is in a class of drugs called opiods for which, nearly 254 million prescriptions were filled in 2010, according to a report by CNN Money. Many people have fit the criteria for being appropriate for OxyContin pain management, and today, many of them are willing to sell or trade their OxyContin for money or other more desirable drugs.
Just as with illicit drugs, OxyContin can sell on the streets for up to 10 times the price it is from a pharmacy. Many drug dealers have seen greater profits from their sales of OxyContin than from illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.
Dangers Of OxyContin Addiction
OxyContin addiction carries some of the same dangers as heroin addiction, since it has the same effects on the body, and non-medical use is entirely illegal. When an individual becomes addicted to OxyContin, it is the psychological addiction that proves to be the most dangerous part, as it is behind the bizarre and risky behaviors exhibited by addicts. Some of the dangers associated with OxyContin addiction are as follows:
- Risk of overdose by taking higher and more frequent doses to achieve a higher euphoria
- Performing sexual favors or engaging in prostitution to get money for more OxyContin
- Endangering oneself or others by purchasing OxyContin from dangerous dealers in dangerous neighborhoods
- Risking freedom by illicitly using OxyContin, stealing to finance OxyContin purchases, or prescription fraud
- Increased risk of becoming addicted to other drugs, like heroin in an attempt to find a better high
OxyContin addiction reached its peak from 2000 – 2010, until a FDA pushed reformulation of the drug was enacted in August 2010 to make it more abuse deterrent. While this new formulation of OxyContin seems to have reduced the occurrences of OxyContin overdoses and drastically reduce sales of the drug, a disturbing trend has been reported by many outlets pointing to an increase in heroin abuse in lieu of OxyContin. According to the LA Times, nearly two thirds of people seeking treatment for opiod addiction and dependence reported moving on to other drugs, namely heroin, after the reformulation of OxyContin rolled out in 2010.
In addition to these dangers of OxyContin addiction come the negative consequences every addict faces. While the specific consequence varies, addiction results in negative outcomes as a result of destructive behaviors associated with the addiction. Some of the most common negative consequences of OxyContin addiction include:
- Criminal charges and legal trouble
- Inability to fulfill personal, work, financial, and school responsibilities
- Financial trouble resulting from irresponsibility to obligations
- Troubled or broken relationships
- Isolation from loved ones
- Health issues and complications
- Loss of home, vehicle and valuables
OxyContin addiction has lead to devastating consequences for thousands of addicts, and their loved ones
who do not know how they can help. Fortunately, OxyContin has be reformulated, but sadly, painkiller addiction continues to rage on, as well as addiction to all other drugs.
What Causes OxyContin Addiction?
Any number of things may be the actual cause for OxyContin addiction, and that is what addiction treatment aims to uncover. Most often with addicts, there is a series of underlying issues or traumas that have contributed to, or completely caused destructive behaviors that lead to addiction. Some of these issues may be things like:
- Poor communication skills
- Low self-esteem
- Serious injury or surgery
- Severe grief over a loss
- Guilt from transgressions against oneself or a loved one
- Poor survival and/or coping skills
When addiction develops, there is usually some kind of underlying issue, whether the addict consciously knows it or not. OxyContin addiction is no different, as its intoxicating and euphoric effects do the same thing as any other drug, and can take an individual away from his or her reality or pain at the moment. Emotional use of OxyContin is a clear indication of misuse and a sign of addiction.
When an individual becomes addicted to OxyContin, he or she must get help immediately to avoid dangerous, and potentially deadly consequences. If you, or someone you love is addicted to OxyContin, please call us now at 1 (866) 445-4137 to speak with a trained counselor about the best type of care needed find a sustainable path to recovery. Drug treatment is effective for OxyContin addiction, and is only a matter of discovering the most effective form based on personal needs and preferences. With over 12,000 addiction treatment centers in the United States, the search for the most effective treatment can be time consuming and daunting, and that is why we are here. We will work with you to determine the best course of action and treatment to give you, or your addicted loved one the best chance at a life-long recovery from OxyContin addiction and drugs of all kinds. Please don’t wait, and don’t suffer alone. Help is available, and we will help you to find what works for you. Please call now.