OxyContin is a popular drug sometimes called ‘hillbilly heroin’ due to its widespread abuse in the Appalachian region and has developed into a major problem in the U.S. today. In fact, in one county alone, experts estimated that OxyContin addiction was the culprit behind more than 80 percent of their crime.
It’s not always easy to tell if someone is addicted to or abusing OxyContin. Here are some of the most obvious signs and symptoms as well as the best way to treat it. Keep reading to learn more about how OxyContin is affecting today’s society.
What is OxyContin Used For?
OxyContin is an opioid often prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain for chronic pain sufferers. It’s basically taken as a prescription painkiller when a 24/7, continuous opioid analgesic is required for a long period of time. But, OxyContin is sometimes only used as needed for relief from pain, especially for postoperative and acute pain management.
How OxyContin Works
OxyContin changes the natural chemistry in the brain, meaning that it literally changes how it works. OxyContin affects the spinal cord, brain stem, and the endogenous opioid receptors within the brain as key parts of the body’s limbic system. These particular receptors are in charge of controlling pain management, body relaxation, coughing, breathing, emotional control, and pleasure.
Initial Signs of OxyContin Addiction
One of the first real signs that a person could be abusing OxyContin is if they start altering their dosage. Doctors prescribe OxyContin based on a number of factors, including continuing pharmacological therapies along with previous analgesic experiences. OxyContin prescription pills are available in 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, and 80mg. The 60-80mg dosage is only prescribed for individuals who’ve developed a high tolerance to OxyContin or perhaps to other opioids. However, if a person starts taking OxyContin in higher doses other than what their doctor originally prescribed, it’s a huge red flag indicating abuse and possible addiction:
- Taking a higher dose of OxyContin than what’s prescribed
- Taking OxyContin more often than what’s prescribed
- Taking OxyContin in different ways than intended (snorting, shooting, etc.)
- Taking OxyContin longer than what’s prescribed
When a person is changing how they take the drug, it’s a strong indication of OxyContin abuse. For all intents and purposes, OxyContin is meant to be swallowed. Sadly, OxyContin addicts are often willing to take unnecessary health risks to get high. By far, one of the most popular ways that addicts abuse painkillers is to crush the pills and snort the powder, while others choose to smoke it using aluminum foil or even chew it, which disrupts its time release quality. Dissolving OxyContin tablets in water and then attempting to inject the solution has been discouraged thanks to a new chemical formula that makes the tablet/solution hard to inject. But, individuals addicted to OxyContin are always trying new ways to get high.
OxyContin Addiction Symptoms
According to the latest research on addiction and drug problems in general, addiction is now described as substance use disorder. A few psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms of an addiction to OxyContin may include the following:
- Being physically and emotionally dependent on OxyContin
- Behavioral changes – acting strangely or secretively
- Using OxyContin in combination with other drugs to reach an intense euphoria
- Continuing to abuse OxyContin regardless of knowing the negative impact on overall health, relationships, job, and social life
- Preoccupied with OxyContin day and night – worried about how to get more
- Spending all resources on OxyContin, or starting to steal for it
- Constantly craving or experiencing compulsion for OxyContin
- Taking more than what’s prescribed, often over an extended period of several months
- Often disoriented, unaware of time
- Experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms if the doses are interrupted or lowered
- Frequent mood changes
- Trying to stop using OxyContin unsuccessfully
- Experiencing an intense psychological urge to have more OxyContin
- Lack of interest in sex or poor performance
- Lack of focus at work, school, or at home
- Stop trusting other people in general, sometimes paranoia
- Breaking the law to get more OxyContin
- Not following doctor’s orders on how to take OxyContin
How to Treat the Symptoms of OxyContin Addiction
The symptoms of OxyContin addiction can indeed be treated and managed. Research proves that a combination of psycho-therapeutic, behavioral, and pharmaceutical techniques offer the best options in treating an addiction to OxyContin. Like any other kind of addiction, an addiction to OxyContin has a greater chance of success if recognized and addressed as quickly as possible.
How to Help Someone Addicted to OxyContin
Several family members and friends may choose to stage an intervention in order to help a struggling addict. OxyContin interventions are pre-arranged meetings that individuals closest to the addict, such as a spouse, family members, or friends gather together as a way to help the addict. The goal of an intervention is to try and convince the addict or at least make them aware of the dire consequences of abusing the drug.
Often, an addict is blind to their own behavior. This is why interventions can sometimes be the catalyst, or turning point, whereby the addict finally sees how serious their addiction has become and starts to understand how bad they need help. Family members and friends can mirror back their observations of watching them abuse OxyContin and how it’s changed their lifestyle. Holding an intervention is the first step to getting them help. Also, enabling their behavior isn’t helping them at all, but rather allowing them to sink even deeper into the abyss of addiction. Don’t give them money or even shelter if it’s letting them continue their addiction. At this point, tough love may be the only way to help them. Avoid making countless excuses for their OxyContin abuse. If you need to, get help on how to plan an intervention.
Taking the initial steps towards getting help for OxyContin addiction can often be overwhelming. However, there are many sources available that are ready to help. Entering a comprehensive inpatient facility is encouraged for best results. Ongoing support and having a therapist or doctor to monitor psychological and physical relationships to addiction is key, as well as family support. Overcoming OxyContin addiction isn’t something that can be done alone; it takes support. Seeking and trusting people is an important first step on the road to recovery.
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