The transition from oxycodone use to oxycodone addiction can be swift and potentially dangerous.
Although oxycodone offers a lifeline for many struggling with severe pain and chronic or terminal conditions, opioid addiction can develop quite quickly, even when used exactly as prescribed.
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What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is the primary active ingredient found in various pain medications. The most common medications where oxycodone is the primary pain-relieving ingredient are:
This drug was identified as potentially dangerous back in the 1960s. While the drug has pain-relieving properties, it also induces euphoria and rewarding effects. This means that while it’s impossible to discount the medical benefits of oxycodone, it also carries a risk for abuse and addiction.
Aggressive lobbying led to oxycodone being classified as a schedule II controlled substance. It’s illegal to possess or use oxycodone in the U.S. without a doctor’s prescription.
Oxycodone is chiefly used for the management of moderate to severe pain after injury or surgery.
If you use this medication strictly in accordance with the provided prescription, oxycodone can be a beneficial and reliable solution to short-term pain relief. Unfortunately, many people start out taking oxycodone as directed, but go on to misuse or abuse the medication over time.
Oxycodone interacts with your brain’s opioid receptors and blocks the pain signals produced in the brain before they can hit your central nervous system. At the same time, oxycodone causes a release of dopamine, a chemical that delivers a feeling of euphoria and sedation. It’s these painkilling and euphoric effects that results in abuse of oxycodone, in many cases leading to full-blown addiction. In some users of oxycodone, dependence can build after just a few uses.
OxyContin is one of the most abused prescription medications informally known as hillbilly heroin and central to the onset of the opioid epidemic in the late 1990s and into the 2000s.
A narcotic opiate painkiller, OxyContin is prescribed for the management of chronic, unrelenting pain – the pain associated with cancer, for example.
OxyContin is a popular recreational drug due to its high oxycodone content. Until late 2013, OxyContin was available in a form that allowed the time-release mechanism to be disabled. This could be achieved by chewing the tablets, by crushing and snorting them, or by injecting the dissolved powder. Ingesting oxycodone in this way delivers a high comparable to that of heroin. Today, crush-resistant formulations of OxyContin help to discourage this form of abuse.
Like all opioid and opiates, OxyContin is an efficient pain reliever but liable to trigger addiction with sustained use.
Is Oxycodone Addictive?
Like all opioids, oxycodone can be highly addictive. It is possibly for addiction to develop in the form of opioid use disorder even if you take this medication as directed by your physician.
Tolerance to opioids like oxycodone builds rapidly, meaning you will need more of the medication to achieve the same effects, or you will need to take more frequent doses of the medication. If you continue taking more oxycodone to mitigate the diminished effects, you will become physically dependent on the substance. By this stage, you will need to use oxycodone to function normally, and the absence of oxycodone will trigger the onset of adverse withdrawal symptoms.
In some cases, oxycodone addiction can develop after just a few days of using the medication. This does not always happen. That said, the risk of using opioids long-term sharply increases after one month of use. This risk is compounded if you use more than one opioid like oxycodone in combination.
The main variables that impact the development and oxycodone addiction and the speed at which it unfolds include:
- Oxycodone dosage: The amount of oxycodone you are taking and the method of delivery can increase the risk of addiction. Using more oxycodone than prescribed will accelerate the development of opioid use disorder.
- Frequency of oxycodone use: The frequency of oxycodone dosages will also influence your risk profile for addiction.
- History of substance use or mental health disorders: If you have a history of abusing alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, you will be at heightened risk of developing opioid use disorder when using oxycodone long-term. The same applies to those with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
How can you determine when oxycodone use is veering toward abuse and addiction?
If you suspect you might be addicted to oxycodone, you should immediately voice your concerns with your healthcare provider. They may refer you to a mental health professional or addiction specialist for a diagnosis of opioid use disorder.
APA (American Psychiatric Association) recently published DSM-5-TR, an updated version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a benchmark tool used to diagnose substance use disorders, alcohol use disorders, and mental health disorders.
For a diagnosis of opioid use disorder, you will be asked variations on the following eleven questions concerning your use of oxycodone over the previous year. These questions form the diagnostic criteria for oxycodone addiction:
- Do you spend large chunks of time obtaining and using oxycodone, as well as recovering from the effects of oxycodone abuse?
- Have you more than once unsuccessfully attempted to stop using oxycodone or to moderate your use of oxycodone?
- Do you frequently take more oxycodone than planned?
- Do you ever get powerful cravings for oxycodone?
- Does your use of this medication cause you to neglect responsibilities at home, work, or school?
- Are you still using oxycodone even though it is triggering problems in your interpersonal relationships?
- Has tolerance to oxycodone formed so you need more of the medication to achieve the same effects?
- Do you spend less time engaged with hobbies and interest in favor of using oxycodone?
- Have you used oxycodone in potentially dangerous situations?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of oxycodone subside?
- Are you still using oxycodone even though it is triggering or inflaming a physical or mental health condition?
Opioid use disorder is diagnosed as follows according to the number of oxycodone addiction symptoms present:
- Mild oxycodone addiction: 2 to 3 symptoms
- Moderate oxycodone addiction: 4 to 5 symptoms
- Severe oxycodone addiction: 6 or more symptoms
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
Like all opioids, oxycodone is powerfully addictive, but also responds favorably to treatment with FDA-approved medications.
Before engaging with treatment for opioid use disorder, you must first purge the toxins from your system. Using oxycodone changes brain and body chemistry, allowing your body to adapt to the presence of opioids. Discontinuing use will bring about uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
A supervised medical detox allows a treatment team to administer a variety of medications to streamline cravings and oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. Emotional and clinical care is available around the clock, minimizing the likelihood of complications during oxycodone withdrawal. In a substance-free medical setting, you will also remove the temptation to use opioids, relapsing before your recovery gets underway.
Once you have detoxed from oxycodone, you will be physically prepared to address the psychological component of opioid addiction. You can achieve this through either inpatient or outpatient rehab. We can help you with this here at California Detox.
OxyContin Rehab at California Detox
Whether you require inpatient or outpatient rehab to kickstart your recovery, we recommend first detoxing at our luxury Laguna Beach treatment facility. After a week or so, you will be ready to pick one of the following oxycodone addiction treatment programs:
- Virtual IOP (remote rehab)
- OP (regular outpatient program)
- PHP (partial hospitalization program)
- IOP (intensive outpatient program)
- Inpatient rehab (residential rehab)
MAT (medication-assisted treatment) can help to make oxycodone withdrawal safer and more comfortable. MAT can also be used throughout ongoing treatment for opioid addiction.
At California Detox, you will also have access to counseling (both individual and group), psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), and a range of holistic therapies like mindfulness and meditation.
When you complete your course of treatment, you should be oxycodone-free and equipped with the coping skills you need to deal with life’s stressors without relapsing. Your treatment team will ensure you have a robust aftercare plan and relapse prevention strategy in place, too.
If oxycodone is creating more problems in your life than it is solving, reach out to California Detox and choose a suitable OxyContin treatment program. Call the team today at 949.567.8790.