OC, Oxycotton, Kicker, Hillbilly Heroin, and so on — no matter what you call it, OxyContin abuse is toxic, and withdrawing from the drug improperly can be dangerous. As the Mayo Clinic notes, despite the risks of using opioid medications, which include OxyContin, they remain an effective way to treat acute and short-term pain. However, misuse, abuse, and overprescribing practices have landed the U.S. in the middle of an overdose epidemic that continues to claim lives daily.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 130 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Drug abuse has spiked since the beginnings of the opioid crisis, which is traced to the early 1990s. In 2017 alone, 70,200 drug overdose deaths involved an opioid.
Despite opioid addiction’s tight grip on thousands of users, some people want to stop using the drug, and they will do whatever they can to quit. Many people try to halt their use abruptly, which is sure to bring on symptoms of withdrawal, particularly for those who have used opioids for an extended time.
Some opioids that cause withdrawal are:
OxyContin, a powerful prescription pain reliever used to treat moderate-to-severe pain, is also one of them. OxyContin is derived from oxycodone. A time-release feature allows users to take the medication to be taken less often. It releases into the body in four- to six-hour intervals to make the pain easier to manage over 24 hours.
The higher concentration of oxycodone in OxyContin makes it prone to abuse. People who abuse it do so for its euphoric, addictive effects. Oxycodone is also a drug to be careful with. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is one of the most commonly overdosed opioids. Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and methadone are others.
In many cases, OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are dangerous and hard to manage, especially for people who try to treat them on their own and without medical help.
Medical detox and addiction treatment are better suited to address the challenges that come with OxyContin dependence and addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction and/or withdrawal, seek professional help today.
People who use OxyContin chronically will build up a tolerance for the drug. The quality of the high diminishes the more one uses it. This usually prompts users to take more OxyContin to get high. Larger amounts can lead to overdose. People who withdraw from OxyContin experience uncomfortable and painful symptoms. Among them are:
There also are taxing mental symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal include:
OxyContin withdrawal is marked by various factors that are unique to each person. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. How severe withdrawal is and how long it lasts will depend on factors such as:
OxyContin has a half-life of 4.5 hours compared to 3.2 hours for immediate-release oxycodone. This means it stays in one’s system longer. Acute withdrawal symptoms can start within eight to 12 hours after the last dose taken. Generally, it could take OxyContin withdrawal four to 10 days to run its course.
Below is a general overview of what happens when OxyContin use stops:
Days 1-3 – Flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and chills, are common. Users may have muscle aches, a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and trouble with sleeping. This period is also marked by Intense cravings for OxyContin. This is a critical point for users as they can relapse. Symptoms can peak within the first three days.
Days 4-7 – As physical symptoms ease up, users may still have trouble getting adequate sleep. They also may battle lingering drug cravings. Aches, cramps, anxiety, and depression also happen during this phase.
Week 2 – The body continues to adjust to the absence of OxyContin as symptoms ease up. It may be easier at this point to get more sleep, but diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can still occur.
Week 3 and beyond – While you may be feeling better physically, Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) tends to unfold at this stage. PAWS is characterized by persistent withdrawal symptoms that can appear at any time for several weeks or months. In severe cases, people experience PAWS symptoms for years. The symptoms of it include emotional instability (mood swings), short-term memory loss, depression, insomnia, and dizziness. OxyContin cravings can still occur as well as cravings for other drugs and alcohol.
Professional addiction treatment programs can offer guidance and resources to help people get through this period of recovery.
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The effects of longtime use of OxyContin use do not go away just because someone decides to stop using. The body has become used to having that substance regularly, so it will continue to demand it, keeping the user in bondage to satisfy that demand at any cost. This will continue until OxyContin use ends for good.
Even if one successfully manages the physical withdrawal symptoms that emerge after use is stopped, it’s nearly guaranteed that the mental and/or emotional discomfort can become so unbearable that they’ll use again just to make the discomfort stop. This can lead to a deadly relapse. This happens because the body has adjusted to not having the drug. What used to be a “normal” dose can become a lethal one.
Undergoing treatment at a substance rehab facility or detox center can help OxyContin users end their dependence or addiction safely. It is important to note that users do not have to wait for withdrawal symptoms to start before they start treatment. The sooner medical detox starts, the better.
Recovery should start with a monitored detox period that is overseen by medical professionals who understand the unique challenges of addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms are managed and monitored in a controlled setting to ensure a person’s safety. It is common for recovering OxyContin users to be given medications as they go through this process. The medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are administered as part of a medication-assisted treatment that uses behavioral therapy and counseling to help patients end their addiction.
Medications specifically approved for OxyContin dependence are:
Other medications are also administered to treat high blood pressure, nausea, chills, cravings, depression, and other symptoms to help the patient find some relief from a taxing withdrawal period.
After medical detox from OxyContin has taken place, people from OxyContin use disorder are encouraged to start treatment. This period of focusing on the reasons for your addiction and strategies to overcome it can take place in various treatment settings. Among them are:
Residential program: This treatment option requires clients to live on-site at a 24-hour monitored facility while they focus on recovering from their addiction. Here, they will undergo therapies and counseling that help them understand their addiction and teach them strategies for how to move forward from it. The average stay lasts at least a month. Research cited by NIDA recommends a minimum of 90 days in this setting. A longer stay helps to ensure that a person will have a successful recovery.
Partial hospitalization program (PHP): A PHP offers people in recovery a middle ground between more intensive and less intensive treatment. Some people enter these structured programs because they need a higher level of care but less-restrictive than the care offered in a residential facility. These programs usually take place for a specific number of hours during the week. PHP patients are required to attend therapy during this period, but they do not need 24-hour supervision. They also can take their medications as needed and don’t require around-the-clock medical help.Outpatient programs (OPs): These programs allow more flexibility for clients who need a less-structured schedule so they can tend to personal obligations involving their family, a job, or education. This program allows more control over one’s personal schedule. It also is less expensive because it doesn’t require an on-site stay at a facility. OPs offer people in recovery the same therapies and counseling they would receive in a residential environment. Intensive outpatient programs, which requires nine hours or more of therapy and counseling a week, can last from a month to three months (90 days).
Tapering Off Opioids: When and How. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 2018 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/tapering-off-opioids-when-and-how/art-20386036
Opioid Overdose. (2018, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
“Overdose Death Maps | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center.”Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing/overdose-death-maps.html
(May 2019). Buprenorphine. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine