OxyContin Addiction

OxyContin is an opioid drug used to treat chronic pain. It uses a time-release system to produce long-lasting effects. OxyContin can last up to 12 hours in a person’s system. Because of this sustained power, addicts will take extra doses to stay high.

What is OxyContin Addiction?

OxyContin is a prescription drug with oxycodone as its main ingredient. OxyContin produces euphoria, emotional relaxation and a decrease in pain. This makes it desirable for those who seek a potent high.

OxyContin’s sustained-release system lets people take just one pill a day to manage pain. However, it is still regularly abused in the United States despite this time-sensitive component.

People who abuse OxyContin will take excessive amounts of it to bypass the time release. This habit puts them at risk of overdose, building tolerance and a full-blown addiction.

Those with OxyContin addictions also are 40 times more likely to develop a heroin addiction, as heroin will still get them high after OxyContin tolerance sets in.

OxyContin tablets may be crushed and snorted or dissolved and injected. These methods run a high risk of overdose. Recent versions of the pill are designed to prevent abuse.

The effects of the drug wear off in 12 to 24 hours. Withdrawal symptoms will set in 4 to 8 hours later without another dose.

How to Spot an OxyContin Addiction

Someone you love may be addicted to OxyContin if:

  • They lie/steal to get more of it
  • Their personality or hobbies change for the worse
  • They neglect family, school or work to use OxyContin
  • They have multiple OxyContin prescriptions from different doctors
  • They have OxyContin prescriptions for people other than themselves

OxyContin Withdrawal

There are two phases of OxyContin withdrawal, and each brings different symptoms. Physical withdrawal lasts up to two weeks, but its symptoms aren’t life-threatening. However, psychological withdrawal and cravings can go on for many months.

Physical Symptoms of OxyContin Withdrawal

Early Symptoms

  • Mood changes (agitation/irritation)
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle aches
  • Blurry vision/dilated pupils

Late Symptoms

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Rapid heartbeats

OxyContin Overdose Signs

Prolonged abuse and tolerance of OxyContin means you will need more of the drug to get the same effects. Increased doses or changing the method of intake puts you at risk of a life-threatening overdose.

OxyContin overdose symptoms include:

  • Constricted “pinpoint” pupils
  • Lack of response to pain
  • Blue skin (cyanosis)
  • Extreme sedation
  • Respiratory arrest

Call 911 immediately if you suspect someone has overdosed on OxyContin.

OxyContin Addiction Treatment

Because OxyContin is so addictive, inpatient withdrawal works for those seeking initial treatment. People with OxyContin addictions can be slowly weaned off the drug, while helpful medications combat the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.  Doctors may also prescribe drugs like methadone if a patient decides to quit “cold turkey.” This treatment method is safe for this addiction, but uncomfortable.

Author:Kent Hoffman
Kent Hoffman

Dr. Kent Hoffman has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is board-certified to practice addiction medicine and family medicine. Dr. Hoffman gets to know his patients on a first-name basis to provide compassionate and professional health care.

Last modified: 01/14/2019