Prescription medication abuse and addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is climbing. Chronic pain is very real for many individuals around the world and dependence on pain medication is a likely result of abused opioid prescriptions.
OxyContin is a popular opioid medication used to combat physical pain, especially for the neck and back; as with all opioid medications, the potential for addiction to OxyContin is extremely high. Pain patients who use the drug as prescribed are advised against the abrupt cessation of OxyContin and are encouraged to gradually reduce the dosage in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms due to the intensity of OxyContin detox.
Chronic Pain and OxyContin
Prescribed for chronic or long-lasting pain, OxyContin is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic that binds to the pain receptors in the brain so that the sensation of pain is reduced. The active ingredient is OxyCodone, which is also found in drugs like Percodan and Tylox.
OxyContin can contain between 10 and 160 milligrams of OxyCodone in a timed-release tablet; Because of the large amounts of oxycodone, OxyContin has become one of the most abused prescription drugs in the Nation. NIDA reports that in certain areas of the United States, abuse rates are higher for OxyContin than for heroin.
OxyContin Addiction and Withdrawal
Abusers of this pain medication who take higher doses than prescribed can develop a tolerance for OxyContin, which can lead them to take larger amounts of the drug to achieve the initial effect. Hyperalgesia, an increased sensitivity to pain caused by damage to the nerves, is a medical condition caused by the chronic use of opiate medication.
Addiction to and dependence on OxyContin occur rapidly; physical addiction develops when repeated use alters reward pathways in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin can begin as soon as six hours after the last dose and can last anywhere between one and two weeks. Those who have gone through withdrawal and detox from this opioid compare the process to the intensity of Heroin withdrawal.
Physical and Mental Withdrawal Symptoms Include:
- Tiredness or Fatigue
- Flu-Like Symptoms
- Constant Yawning
- Hot and Cold Sweats
- Restlessness and Agitation
- Heart Palpitations
- Bradycardia (Irregular Heartbeat)
- Mild to Severe Muscle and Joint Cramping/Aching
- Depressed Breathing
- Mild to Severe Nausea and Vomiting
- Uncontrollable Coughing
- Watery Eyes
- Mild to Severe Anxiety
- Mild to Severe Depression
Like Heroin and other Opioids, OxyContin is a central nervous system depressant. Overdose is tremendously common with this type of medication, easily leading to respiratory depression and failure and death.
Detoxification from OxyContin can be both physically and psychologically excruciating, specifically if dependence or abuse has become a long-term issue. Most individuals have described a strong concentration of muscular cramping radiating throughout the entire body, as well as severe digestive complications due to constant vomiting. Pruritus, the need or reflex to scratch and itch, is also a common symptom associated with detoxing from OxyContin.
Opioid detox can be an overall painful process to endure physically and psychologically and methods and medications are administered to ease the painful symptoms that occur during the early stages of withdrawal. Some detoxification methods have the potential to cause more harm than good, as is the case with rapid opiate detox; being properly supervised by a medically trained professional is crucial.
Medical detox for chemically dependent people is greatly suggested and should take place in an inpatient treatment center or under hospital supervision. There are many different methods and medications used in the medical-detox from OxyContin; Clonidine, Librium, and Morphine are some of the more common drugs used to facilitate physical comfort.
Most medical detoxifications from opiates last from one to two weeks. Many drug rehab centers have drug detox programs at the same facility, while others have drug detox programs at a separate location. Once the detox has been completed, the addict is encouraged to immediately start an outpatient drug treatment program. Drugs leave residual toxins in the body, which can cause post acute withdrawal symptoms such as drug cravings, anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and sleeplessness. Therefore, it is important to eat properly and drink plenty of liquids to maintain health.
Going through any form of drug detox without the appropriate drug treatment or rehabilitation program immediately following the detox process significantly reduces the likelihood of an individual’s successfully staying off drugs and remaining clean and sober. Depending on the length of chemical dependency, it is important that opiate-dependent patients find a treatment facility that has a specific opiate addiction program available.