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Understanding Oxycodone Addiction and How to Get Help

Many people think that taking prescription medications makes them safer drugs, but Oxycodone addiction is a real and serious condition. While it's often prescribed by doctors, this medication is one of the most highly addictive prescription medications given for pain relief. It is even more dangerous if you have a history of addiction.

If you or someone you love is abusing this drug, it's important that you understand what addiction looks like and how it can impact a life. Take the time to learn basic Oxycodone information and how it leads to addiction so you can help yourself or a family member. No matter how frightening or hopeless a situation appears, you can get help and begin the path to recovery and a new life.

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The History and What Makes It Addictive

Historically, Oxycodone has been one of the most widely prescribed medications for all kinds of pain. It was developed because the pharmaceutical company that created heroin soon found out that while heroin was effective, it had dangerous side effects and addictive properties that made it inappropriate for regular use. Even so, chronic pain still existed, and people needed to have something that would be effective and less problematic than heroin. As a result, Oxycodone was born. It is a member of the opiate family with very close ties to heroin. Both are derived from the poppy plant, and both are extremely good at treating pain.

Since it was approved for use in the United States in 1976, Oxycodone has been prescribed for all kinds of cases. Even today, patients take it for the purposes of:

  • Relieving acute pain
  • Helping with pain from cancer
  • Relieving arthritis pain
  • Recovering after surgery
  • Relieving symptoms from many other diseases

This medication is similar to morphine in the way it controls pain, but it lasts up to 12 hours, making it more effective than many other prescription medications. It is given in one of two ways. It may be prescribed by itself under the names of OxyContin or Roxycodone. The second option is to have Oxycodone mixed with Acetaminophen in medications like Percodan and Percocet.

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance because of its potential for abuse. If a person receives a prescription from the doctor, a paper copy must be given to the pharmacy to have it filled. The doctor cannot phone it in or fax it over.

Perhaps you've been prescribed OxyContin for one of the above reasons, and you've been taking it for quite some time. You may have even noticed some addictive behavior in yourself, and you've wondered if you've become an addict.

Oxycodone Addiction Information

The Addictive Nature of Oxycodone

In 1995, a brand name medication by the name of OxyContin was released, and since then, it has been readily prescribed by doctors. There has been so much controversy over the years about dosage and effectiveness. The biggest problem is that Oxycodone is viewed as "safe" because it's prescribed by a doctor, and that has led to more and more people abusing it every single year. Even teenagers will experiment with the drug because of the high it produces and because it seems like a better alternative to illegal street drugs like cocaine.

With repeated use of Oxycodone, people generally develop a tolerance to it. he same dosage won't produce the desired high or euphoric feeling as it once did. In an attempt to experience that high, people will increase their dosage, or increase frequency of consumption.

Facts about Oxycodone Abuse

Oxycodone has been abused for over 30 years and the numbers continue to rise because it's prescribed so often for pain. In fact, there are more first-time abusers for this drug than for either cocaine or marijuana. Hospital visits for this drug went up from 5,211 in 1998 to an amazing 10,825 in 2000, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

  • About 11 million people in the US are either taking or have taken some form of Oxycodone
  • 9.9 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 have abused the medication
  • 1 in 30 seniors in high school have abused OxyContin at least one time
  • Users as young as 12 years old have abused this drug

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Accessing It and How Abuse Starts

Because doctors continue to prescribe the medication for moderate to severe pain, especially pain after surgery, more people continue to be exposed to this drug. In many cases, abuse starts off unintentionally. The person experiences relief from the pain, which helps them get through the day. Just like with any other opioid, the body develops a tolerance for the drug. This means it gets used to the effects and the result is less relief from pain. It now takes a higher dosage to achieve the same results. Instead of talking to their doctor, many times a person will increase the use on their own.

The user may also like the euphoric feelings they experience with a higher dosage. To continue to have pain relief and enjoy the feelings the Oxycodone provides, they may begin doctor shopping. This means they go to multiple doctors to get new prescriptions for the drug so they can take it more often than prescribed. When they can no longer get the medication through prescriptions, they will start looking for it on the street.

Teens who abuse the drug often begin because someone offers them a pill. They like the idea of being able to get high without snorting or using a needle. However, this drug may be crushed and injected or snorted as well as taken in pill form. It just takes a little longer to feel the results when swallowed.

The medication has a high demand on the street and drug sellers will charge $40 or more for one pill. Because of the high price tag associated with the medication, people with a prescription may sell their pills for money. Doctors and pharmacists may also sell on the black market. The drug has several street names. The most popular are Ox or Oxy, OC, Oxycotton, Blue, Kicker and Hillbilly heroin.

The Risk of Combining Oxycodone and Other Drugs

Oxycodone is dangerous by itself when abused, but it becomes even more risky when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Many people take it with alcohol to intensify the effect. However, this is a dangerous choice which could lead to death. Both the medication and alcohol can cause issues with breathing, including respiratory depression. This effect is increased when the two are combined. The result may be cardiac arrest and death.

Other drugs commonly abused with Oxycodone include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Tranquilizers

In addition, people who have a hard time accessing the medication may turn to heroin use to get the high they are craving. This leads them to an even greater addiction, which can be difficult to overcome.

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Dealing with Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one are abusing Oxycodone in some form or have become addicted to it, you'll need to get help for your problem. The first step is to go through detox and then to follow up with addiction treatment.

Detox is simply getting the medication out of your system and letting your body return to normal function. While the definition is simple, the process is not. Many people fail to realize how important detox is with prescription medications because they don't understand how addictive and dangerous the drugs can be.

When a person goes through detox, they must go through a period of withdrawal. The body will crave the drug and send signals to different systems that the drug is gone. The person will experience uncomfortable symptoms that will worsen over the first few hours and days before they begin to subside. It's during this time they are more likely to relapse and use again to gain relief from the symptoms. However, detoxing is essential to get treatment for the drug addiction.

It's best for the person to find a detox facility rather than trying to do it on their own. It reduces the likelihood that they will relapse, and medical staff are on hand to help them deal with the most dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.

It's normal to assume that you'll be experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you abruptly stop a drug like Oxycodone. However, with this particular opiate medication, withdrawal symptoms are sometimes magnified when compared to the effects of others. It's never recommended for anyone to stop cold turkey, but for those who do, they may experience symptoms that are similar to having the flu, and these can include:

  • Terrible body aches and pains
  • Alternating chills and sweats
  • Goose bumps on the arms
  • Stomach cramps with or without nausea and vomiting
  • Digestion problems like diarrhea
  • Chronic headaches
  • Risk of tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate

The symptoms are similar whether you're taking OxyContin or Percocet. The above listed symptoms are mainly experienced by light users. If you take a higher dosage, the symptoms may be more similar to heroin withdrawal. This can include the following:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations and paranoia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

For those who have been taking relatively high doses of Oxycodone, adverse reactions can be triggered when stopping the drug quickly, and some instances of sudden death have even been reported. At the very least, your withdrawal symptoms can become so severe that you go back to using again.

The best course of action is to turn to one of the top Oxycodone rehab centers for their advice on how you can stop safely. You never want to try to detox on your own because of the health risks and the increased likelihood of relapse.

Because Oxycodone is a prescription medication, many people assume they can stop using on their own. While this may be true for light abusers, someone with an addiction to the drug should seek medical treatment.

A detox facility provides 24-hour care to monitor you and ensure the withdrawal symptoms aren't too unbearable. If any complications should arise, they can provide emergency medical care when necessary.

You should never take the issue of stopping this medication lightly. Even when doctors take a person off the prescription, they often reduce the dosage before stopping entirely. This allows the body to adjust to the change with less stress.

You may wonder how long detox will take, especially when it comes to how long the symptoms will last. Withdrawal symptoms usually start about 8 to 12 hours after you've taken your last dose. They gradually become worse for the first 72 hours or three days. After that, they will begin to subside until they are gone after about a week. Drug cravings may continue much longer than that.

The length of time for withdrawal will depend on how much you've been taking as well as what method you used. Swallowing a pill allows it to release slowly, which means it stays in the system longer. Injecting the drug provides a much faster effect, which means it stays in the body for less time.

Many drug detox facilities offer medical detox for opiate withdrawal. They are monitored 24 hours a day and given medications. Sometimes these medications are other forms of opioids that are supposed to be less addictive. However, there is a risk of developing a secondary addiction to any kind of opioid, which means more time in detox.

Another option for detoxing which is gaining popularity is holistic detox. With this method, the person will focus on nutrition and fitness to help their body recover. Exercise will release feel-good hormones which will help counteract the need for the drug and help the system get back to normal faster.

The right nutrition is also key because it helps the body's systems work more efficiently and correctly. Many experts have found this approach is the better method of detoxing because it doesn't lead to any secondary addictions.

Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

Detox is just the first step in the addiction recovery process. It's an essential step, but treatment doesn't end there. Once you've completed detox, you may feel good and have more energy and clarity than what you've experienced in a long time. You feel ready to begin your new life, but you aren't there yet. Without addiction treatment, you're likely to relapse and begin abusing drugs again.

It's a common myth that people don't need treatment for prescription medication addiction. They think if they just stop using, everything will be like it was before. However, you must figure out why you started abusing drugs in the first place. You also must realize that the drugs have altered some aspects of your brain, and you need to be prepared to deal with that. Addiction treatment tackles both of these problems to give you long-term success.

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Types of Drug Treatment

You can find different types of treatment centers based on your needs:

  • Outpatient rehab - With this option, you attend therapy a few hours each week. It's ideal for people who have other responsibilities or those who have only a light addiction. They do need a strong support network to help them.
  • Inpatient rehab - With this treatment option, you will stay in a facility for up to 30 days to receive therapy. It's the best option if you have a severe addiction or no support at home.
  • Residential rehab - This type of treatment is similar to inpatient but for an extended period of time. It's the best choice for those who have relapsed or have an addiction to multiple drugs.
  • Intensive outpatient rehab - This type of treatment combines inpatient and outpatient rehab. The person stays in a facility during the day for therapy and goes home at night.

You must decide which type of treatment is best for your situation. You should base it on the length of your addiction and how much support you have at home as well as other obligations you may have during this time. You want to choose a treatment method that will help you be successful in recovery for the long-term.

What to Expect in Treatment

While the approach may differ, most treatment facilities will offer the same types of treatment. It all begins with an assessment. The doctor will look at your medical and personal history and create a treatment plan. Some aspects of this plan may include some or all of the following:

You can expect to sit down with a therapist and talk about your addiction. You will work together to find out how and why you became addicted. The reasons will vary based on whether you were taking a prescription or started using illegally.

During this time, you will figure out the triggers for your addiction. Triggers are people, places or things that cause you to want to use the drug. For some, the trigger may have been pain. For others, it may be stress, a desire to feel good or many other reasons.

As you learn about these situations, you will develop a plan for how to handle them in the future. This will help you be prepared for cravings that may occur long after treatment is completed.

Most people are aware of this type of therapy, and they often avoid treatment because of it. The idea of talking about something so personal as addiction in front of strangers can seem intimidating. However, it's an important part of treatment, and it often becomes a person's favorite part of the program once they have experienced what group therapy is really like.

You will have meetings with other people who are in various stages of treatment for the same or a similar addiction. Everyone will talk about their addiction which helps you realize you aren't alone. You may also learn tips on how to deal with the issues behind the addiction. Each person becomes part of a support system for the recovering addict. They talk, laugh and tell stories with each other, developing a bond born of a common problem.

Not everyone responds the same way to therapy. Some start off doing well but then hit a roadblock. Others can never seem to get past a wall they have built up. In these situations and for many other reasons, many drug treatment centers offer alternative therapy.

Alternative therapy consists of other types of treatments that are designed to elicit a certain response or result. Some common types include art or music therapy, journaling, restorative yoga, acupuncture, equine therapy and gardening therapy. A person who has interest in one of these areas may respond better to a certain type of therapy. It may allow them to open up more or it may give the therapist an opportunity to observe the person in a more natural setting to glean specific information. You can search for drug treatment centers that offer a specific type of alternative therapy.

Some addiction treatment centers focus on health and wellness for the person to deal with addiction. When it comes to Oxycodone, this approach may not only help with the addiction component but the original health condition which led to the prescribed use of the drug.

The proper nutrition and exercise can help the body deal with pain management in a natural way. You may find you don't need drugs to reduce the pain because your body's immune system will do it naturally. This method of treatment will help your body to naturally fight the cravings and other symptoms of addiction.

In some cases, medication may be part of the treatment plan. If the person was using Oxycodone for pain management when they became addicted, the issue of the pain must be addressed if it still exists. They will need to find another medication with less addictive properties to help them deal with the problem.

Another instance when medication may be important is with co-occurring disorders. This is when a person with a mental health disorder becomes addicted to drugs. Medications may be necessary to manage the mental condition while therapy treats the addiction.

For many patients, they will receive a combination of types of treatment. In some cases, their treatment plan may change based on how they respond and what is needed for continued progress.

Dealing with Co-occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders, also known as a dual diagnosis, is a condition which includes both drug addiction and a mental health disorder. When a person takes Oxycodone, they feel less pain and more relaxed. They have less anxiety and may be more confident and happy. These effects are attractive to people who suffer from a variety of mental health disorders.

Oxycodone also acts as a sedative, which may hold appeal for people who abuse uppers or drugs like methamphetamines. People will use this drug to self-medicate for different conditions. For example, a teen may use it to help them be calm when they're stressed out about tests or if they suffer from severe anxiety. They may like the relaxing effect when they must be in a crowd or speak in front of others.

Military veterans may be prescribed this medication for pain, while those who suffer from PTSD may be more likely to develop an addiction. It will calm their fears and help them be more relaxed in situations which trigger their condition.

The person may like the way the medication makes them feel. In fact, it may make their symptoms go away for some time. However, the body will become used to the drug, and it won't be as effective. When the symptoms reappear, the person will increase the dosage to treat their mental health condition. Over time, the person will become addicted and unable to stop on their own.

You may wonder why someone would use drugs to deal with a mental health condition instead of getting professional help. If you know someone who has this condition, you must understand they likely feel embarrassed about their issue. They may be afraid no one will believe them or think they are "crazy" because of their symptoms.

Because of the stigma associated with many mental health disorders, people choose to find their own treatment. Many times, this includes self-medication with drugs.

Treating a dual diagnosis means treating both conditions. If you only treat the addiction, the person will probably relapse when the mental health disorder becomes unbearable again. Instead, it's important to find a treatment center that can handle care of both conditions.

Many times, a therapist will prescribe a medication for the mental health condition coupled with therapy. The therapy and medication may be necessary for the long-term recovery even after initial treatment is completed.

While treating co-occurring disorders is more complicated than drug addiction alone, it's possible for the person to recover and live a productive and happy life. To reach this goal, you must find the right treatment center.

How Long Does Treatment Last?

Since Oxycodone is an opioid, you can expect treatment to be similar to that of heroin, morphine and other opiates. Initial treatment may last for a few days or weeks while the person learns how to deal with their addiction. However, many people choose to continue treatment through ongoing therapy or with a 12-step program to help them maintain recovery for the long-term.

Others may decide they don't need more therapy, but then decide to attend again if they relapse or think about relapsing. Addiction is a lifelong battle, and you must be alert to potentially dangerous situations. Even having painkillers prescribed by a doctor can begin a trip down the wrong road. Long-term success means being aware of the dangers and being upfront with doctors about past addictions.

As you may have guessed, it doesn't take long before you begin to notice the adverse effects of Oxycodone. In addition to the high that's often experienced, you may also become constipated, experience dizziness and fatigue, or suffer from anxiety. Other short-term side effects include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Changes in mood
  • Dry mouth

The long-term effects don't always take a very long time to show up, especially if you increase your dose very quickly. These can include:

  • Sudden onset of seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • A very delayed heartbeat
  • Breathing difficulties, including shallow breathing
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Collapse of the circulatory system
  • Hives and itching
  • Lightheaded feeling
  • Postural hypotension

If you continue to abuse the drug for a long time, you may experience kidney failure and liver problems. You may not be able to think clearly or manage impulses.

The symptoms become even worse when Oxycodone is combined with acetaminophen like with Percocet. Severe damage to the liver may result, especially if it's combined with alcohol.

One of the most serious concerns for a person who has a loved one abusing Oxycodone is the risk for overdosing. This is a serious situation and it occurs when you take more of the drug than what your body can handle. It's important that you're aware of the signs of an overdose so you can get help medical help right away.

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Shallow breathing or breathing which stops
  • Extreme sleepiness to the point that you cannot rouse the person
  • Fainting and dizziness
  • Weak muscles or a feeling of limpness
  • Pupils that either narrow or widen
  • Skin that feels cold and clammy
  • Slow heartbeat that stops
  • Blue tinge to the skin, lips or fingernails
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

If you don't get medical help right away, the result may be death. Oxycodone overdose is a serious situation that must not be taken lightly.

Help for Loved Ones: Addiction Symptoms and Behaviors

If you're concerned that someone you love is not using Oxycodone correctly or shouldn't be taking it all, you need to know the signs to look for to indicate an addiction. However, even if a person isn't addicted yet, they may be abusing the medication, which can lead to an addiction. It's important to recognize signs of drug abuse. These may include taking the drug more often than prescribed or at a higher dosage and hiding the fact that they aren't taking it as prescribed. They may also try to find ways to get more of the drug.

Over time, drug abuse generally leads to addiction. Along with the abusive symptoms, you may notice the person suffers withdrawal symptoms when they can't get more of the drug. They also will go to extreme measures to get it once these symptoms start. There are certain addiction behaviors you can look for, these include:

  • Spending excess money on Oxycodone
  • Purchasing it on the street illegally
  • Evidence of forged prescriptions
  • Visiting multiple doctors
  • Begging off social functions where drug use won't be possible

If you notice any of these signs, you need to convince your loved one they should get help.

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

If you're concerned about paying for drug treatment, you don't have to worry anymore. With the changes made by the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are required to pay for drug rehab. This allows people who couldn't afford treatment in the past to get the help they need.

You may find that you don't have to pay any of the costs of treatment. If you do, it often is a small co-pay while the insurance takes care of the rest. You can contact Northpoint Recovery to find out your cost with your insurance figured in. If you don't have current health insurance, you can find affordable plans through ACA to allow you to get the help you need.

How to Help Your Friend or Family Member with Drug Abuse

If you do suspect Oxycodone abuse or addiction, it's important for your friend or family member to get immediate help. However, it's not always easy to communicate your concern when you suspect an addiction. If your attempts are not working, many of the top rehab programs in the country offer intervention services that can help.

An intervention is a time when family and friends sit down with the addicted person and talk to them about their addiction. They will show their concern for the person and also let them know how the addiction is impacting their lives.

Many times, the addict may not be aware of these facts. It also helps to have multiple people saying the same message. Often, this is all it takes for the person to agree to seek treatment. If you use a professional intervention service, the person can usually go into rehab immediately.

Finding the Best Rehab Programs

Here at Northpoint Recovery, our addiction treatment center is available for you if you're addicted to this powerful drug. You do not have to continue on in this addiction, and by getting professional help, you can find the healing you're looking for.

We offer a state-of-the-art facility which is clean and inviting. With a lower patient-to-staff ratio, you can be assured of the best care. Thanks to the 24-hour supervision you receive, you can have the support you need to go through detox and treatment for your addiction to Oxycodone.

Northpoint Recovery focuses on treating the entire person with a holistic approach. At the same time, we believe in medically supervised detox. The treatment plan is tailored to your individual needs, which may include a variety of therapy, including activity therapy, group therapy and support groups.

If you'd like to learn more about recovering from your addiction, or if you have further questions about this type of addiction treatment, please contact us today. We'll be happy to talk with you and answer any of your questions. Contact us for more Oxycodone information and how you can be free of addiction.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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