Oxycontin is one of the most commonly prescribed opioids today. It is also one of the most highly abused substances by teens, being only second to marijuana. While the drug is often obtained through a prescription, it is equally, and illegally, available to young adults through the underground market.
Oxycontin is a synthetic name-brand medication prescribed for around-the-clock pain relief. It is generally taken for a severe injury, post-surgery, or for alleviating symptoms of medical conditions like cancer. Its effects, when taken as prescribed, can last up to twelve hours, providing its users with consistent pain relief in one single pill. Oxycontin, at first, was seen as a breakthrough medication for this very reason: its time-release capsule allowed the active ingredient, Oxycodone, to slowly expel into the body over a long period of time, allowing its users to sleep through the night. But as the drug became more popular, more people figured out how to speed up this process, making it very appealing to young adults looking for an easy high.
While this potent painkiller is legal for pharmaceutical purposes and considered safe in proper dosages, it can be extremely detrimental to one’s health when taken any way other than prescribed. As a member of the opiate family, Oxycontin (otherwise known as “OC” or “Oxy”) has side effects that parallel that of harder street drugs like morphine, heroin, and methadone. Those who abuse Oxycontin will most often crush or chew the drug to remove its time-release coating. They will then snort its powder, or lace it with other drugs to enhance its effects. Being a soluble pill, users may also inject Oxycontin to obtain a more immediate rush.
Because this “rush” is similar to that of heroin, many see Oxycontin as a gateway drug into more extreme substances. In fact, many people refer to the medication as “hillbilly heroin,” for abuse of the pill often leads teens to use of whichever drug is more easily accessible. But, Oxycontin can be just as addictive and fatal.
Every day in the United States, nearly 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for abusing prescription painkillers like Oxycontin. 44 people die every day from an opioid overdose, and even more become addicted.
In many cases, those taking Oxycontin did not intend for abuse or addiction. Most start out using the drug exactly as directed. The problem is, an individual can easily build up a tolerance to opiates. Over time, the original dosage will not provide the same relief as it did originally. The user will increase his intake. If your teen has been prescribed Oxycontin, watch for this behavior. He may say, “Just this one time,” or complain that one pill is no longer enough. He may begin seeking more substances illegally, or using multiple doctors/pharmacies to obtain the drug.
Classified as a Schedule II drug, Oxycontin has very high potential for abuse and “severe dependence.” In fact, the majority of users will develop a psychological dependence on Oxycontin, and many do after just three days of use. A physical dependence, on the other hand, can develop over multiple weeks.
Warning Signs of Oxycontin Abuse
Oxycontin is often assumed a safe and effective pain reliever, as it produces very few severe side effects: nausea, constipation, and dizziness can accompany frequent use. Over time, however, several symptoms can develop and further identify Oxycontin abuse, manifesting great risk of respiratory depression, addiction, and overdose. If your son is exhibiting any of the following behaviors, an Oxycodone addiction may be present:
- Increase in dosage or frequency of use: an indication he’s developed a tolerance
- Ongoing use: using the medication longer than the allotted time approved by doctor
- Neglect of responsibilities: losing interest or motivation of school, work, and health
- Time spent seeking out the drug: begins “doctor-shopping” or going to greater lengths to obtain Oxycontin, despite the distance or the cost.
- Isolation: withdrawal from his family, friends, and social circles
- Defensiveness: In a strong attempt to hide his dependency, he may lash out in response to simple questions
- Change in personality: less energy, more moody
- Change in daily habits: sleeping/eating habits changed, decline in personal hygiene
- Blackouts: forgetfulness, confusion, and unconsciousness
Oxycontin Addiction Treatment
As with any other opiate, Oxycontin abuse or dependency needs immediate, professional attention. Oxycontin addiction is of the most difficult to overcome, as the first year of sobriety often bears the most intense withdrawal symptoms. Rapid detoxification is often enacted as the first step to recovery; however, it can be agonizing for those that are severely addicted.
Long-term sobriety from Oxycontin, therefore, cannot simply be achieved through detoxification alone. Sometimes, a medication drug treatment will be employed to ease the withdrawal symptoms. At Turning Point, we believe that teens suffering from withdrawal need to learn the coping mechanisms necessary for preventing relapse. This can be best achieved through a long-term, residential treatment program. In order for Oxycontin addiction rehab to be successful, both the physical and psychological addiction should be addressed in tandem. With group and one-on-one counseling, behavioral therapy, and adherence to 12-step meetings, a young adult can truly conquer an Oxycodone addiction. Please call 1-877-581-1793 for more information on Oxycontin addiction treatment for young men.