OxyContin, which is a brand name for oxycodone, is a prescription opioid used to manage moderate to severe pain. It can be a valuable pain management tool when taken as directed, but many people abuse it for its euphoric effects. Chronic OxyContin use or abuse can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction 1. When someone who is addicted to the opioid suddenly decreases or stops use, painful withdrawal symptoms tend to occur. A professional detox program can provide a solid recovery foundation by helping to alleviate these unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. The following OxyContin detox information will be covered in this article:
- OxyContin abuse.
- Detox definition.
- Is detox required?
- OxyContin withdrawal symptoms.
- What does detox entail?
- Transitioning into treatment.
OxyContin is an opioid painkiller prescribed to treat pain that is not resolved by other methods. When misused or abused, OxyContin can produce pleasurable feelings similar to the high associated with heroin use. People typically abuse OxyContin by crushing and snorting it or dissolving in water and injecting it 1. Due to its high potential for abuse, OxyContin is a federally controlled substance and is only available by prescription 1.
Long-term OxyContin use can lead to tolerance, where a larger amount of the drug is required to attain the desired effect. Continued use of the opioid can also lead to physical dependence, the body’s natural adaptation to the presence of the drug. Once someone becomes dependent on OxyContin, the drug must be taken to prevent the emergence of withdrawal symptoms. Although tolerance and dependence alone do not denote an addiction, they are two influencing factors in the development of maladaptive use and addiction.
Professional OxyContin Detox
Once an individual develops an OxyContin addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop using without professional help, due to the painful symptoms and strong cravings associated with the withdrawal process.
The detoxification process may include a variety of therapeutic interventions to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort during the withdrawal process and manage any harmful health effects caused by OxyContin use 2. Some of the interventions used during drug detox can include medication-assisted treatment to ease the painful symptoms of withdrawal, medical care to manage any underlying physical health issues or those caused by addiction, and psychiatric care and support 2.
Detoxification can be completed in a variety of settings and should be chosen based on the needs of each individual 2. Time-limited programs are available, where a patient stays at a detox facility until they have completed the withdrawal process 2. Inpatient treatment facilities offer detox services followed by intensive addiction treatment 2. Detox can also be accomplished as part of outpatient treatment programs, in which the person lives at home and attends the outpatient center at a designated time each day 2. Finally, there are some medical doctors who are authorized to provide medication-assisted treatment for withdrawal in private practice 2.
While detox is the first step on the road to recovery, it does not constitute comprehensive substance addiction treatment. In order to sustain sobriety, it is vital that detox is followed up with ongoing treatment 2. During the detox process, staff members work with each patient to develop an individualized post-detox plan that can include inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, individual therapy, and/or self-help meetings to ensure continued recovery. If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to OxyContin, call our helpline at 11111 to speak to a treatment support specialist about detox and recovery options.
Is Detox Necessary?
Detoxification from opioids such as OxyContin is seldom life-threatening. As such, formal detox treatment is not a medical necessity in terms of withdrawing safely 2. However, due to the intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, paired with severe cravings, relapse is common when attempting to quit OxyContin without the support and supervision afforded by professional assistance.
A formal detox program can decrease the risk of relapse by managing withdrawal symptoms, providing around-the-clock medical care, and administering medications when needed.
OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms
In those who abuse the drug or have otherwise used it for long periods of time, quitting OxyContin or drastically reducing its use will result in the appearance of withdrawal symptoms because the brain and body have become accustomed to the presence of the opioid. In general, these withdrawal symptoms tend to be opposite in character to the direct drug effects of OxyContin. For instance, while OxyContin use may result in pain relief, the withdrawal period is frequently marked with an increased sensitivity to pain.
Addiction isn’t the same for everyone, and the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary widely based on a number of factors. Some of these factors include:
- How long you have been using OxyContin.
- The amount of OxyContin used on a regular basis.
- Whether you abuse other substances.
- Your individual physiological makeup.
Withdrawal from opioids has been well studied. The following is a list of common OxyContin withdrawal symptoms 1,3:
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Excessive yawning.
- Fever or sweating.
- Cold flashes.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
- Intense cravings for OxyContin.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain or aches in the muscles and bones.
- Runny nose.
- Tearing of the eyes.
- Uncontrollable leg movements.
What Does Detox Entail?
The detox process is less overwhelming and intimidating when one knows what detox will be like, and what to expect when entering a program. The detox process is comprised of three important aspects, which are as follows 2:
Evaluation in the Detox Process
- Evaluation: The intake coordinator will take a complete medical, psychological, social, and substance use history. Drug testing will be done to determine what substances have been recently used, as well as the levels of these substances in the body. Patients will undergo screening for any co-occurring mental or physical health conditions. This information will be used to figure out what level of treatment is needed after withdrawal is complete and to guide the development of a treatment plan.
- Stabilization: This involves medical and psychiatric staff working to help patients who are intoxicated or suffering from withdrawal symptoms to achieve a sober and stable situation. During the process of getting an individual sober, medications are often used to ease the symptoms, although some OxyContin detox centers may not utilize medication-assisted treatment. Another part of the stabilization process is involving family, friends, and coworkers, with the patient’s consent. Significant people in the patient’s life can provide support and encouragement throughout the process.
- Entry into a treatment program: The detox staff will develop an individualized plan to facilitate the patient’s transition into an ongoing treatment program once they complete detox. Since detox is merely the start to sobriety, patients are educated on the importance of continuing to participate in some type of treatment to decrease the likelihood of relapse.
Various factors can influence the symptoms of withdrawal, so the length of time an individual needs to complete the detox process is individualized. Detox generally lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how long the individual has been addicted to OxyContin, the amount used, and whether the patient was using other substances as well.
Transitioning into Treatment
For many, recovery is a lifelong process. Detoxification is just the first step on the path to recovery, and for the best outcome, should be followed up with further treatment 2. Participating in additional treatment programs, either in an inpatient or outpatient setting, provides the opportunity to learn and practice skills that will be needed to maintain long-term sobriety. The following are some of the different types of treatment options:
- Inpatient treatment: Which requires the patient to reside at the facility for a period of time, while receiving intensive group and individual therapy sessions, as well as medical and psychiatric monitoring.
- Outpatient treatment: Which provides recovery services a set number of times per week at an outpatient center, based on the person’s needs. Treatment entails multiple group and individual sessions, and psychiatric care is provided as needed, while allowing the individual to live at home and remain involved in their usual daily life activities.
- Luxury treatment: Which is exclusive, private, and cutting-edge. The center is typically located in a beautiful location and services and amenities resemble those of a high-end resort.
- Executive treatment: Which allows patients access to computers and phones for work purposes, while still receiving top-notch treatment for drug addiction. Other high-end amenities may be available, depending on the facility.
- Holistic treatment: Which focuses on the connection between body, mind, and spirit. The types of therapies used in holistic treatment may involve acupuncture, biofeedback, nutrition counseling, exercise, meditation, creative arts therapy, and yoga.
- 12-step programs: Which are free to join; the only requirement is that you want to stop using OxyContin and any other intoxicating substances. Members work through the 12 steps of recovery while receiving support from peers and a sponsor. Examples include Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Pills Anonymous (PA).
Each type of treatment has the same goal, which is to help patients learn how to function in society and prevent them from relapsing into OxyContin abuse. This is accomplished by helping patients to identify triggers and high-risk situations and develop and strengthen healthy coping skills. Please call our confidential helpline today at 11111. Addiction support specialists can provide you with information regarding OxyContin detox and recovery programs.
- U.S. Department of Justice. (2003). OxyContin Fast Facts.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Pp 4-5, 7, 66-74
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.