Oxycodone Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, Rehab, and Recovery

By The Fix staff 01/21/15

Oxycodone Addiction: Signs, Side Effects, Rehab, and Recovery

Oxycodone Addiction

In 1995, medical researchers devised a way to decrease the number of people who abused prescription painkillers. Morphine and Oxycodone had previously been prescribed in large doses that made it simple to achieve an extreme high. Pharmacies started to offer these drugs in time-released capsules with the expectation that the medicines would be harder to abuse. Unfortunately, their efforts backfired. Substance abusers found a way to use the time-released feature to their advantage. When they crushed these pills before using them, the high of the drug lasts much longer.  

In 2008, the FDA found that about half a million people older than 12 were new abusers of Oxycontin, also commonly known as Oxycodone. This drug is meant to serve as an opioid analgesic to treat those who are in chronic pain. Being that Oxycodone is widely available, this augments substance abuse issues. Any person taking this drug needs a doctor's prescription, but there are more than a few abusers who access this drug via illegal trafficking. When compared to other opioids, Oxycodone tolerance increases at a faster rate, which is why abusers become addicted so quickly.  

Side Effects of Oxycodone Addiction

The higher the dose an abuser consumes, the more intense the side effects of Oxycodone are. Some of the more common side effects include:

  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Possible seizure
  • Weakness

Other notable side effects that occur in a fewer number of abusers include:

  • Respiratory disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Vascular disorders
  • Subcutaneous tissue disorders
  • Reproductive system disorders

It should be noted that not all people addicted to Oxycodone abuse the substance. Still, even if users take it exactly as prescribed, addiction and dependence are still possible. Signs of Oxycodone addiction are relatively simple to spot. An addicted person will usually go to any means possible to acquire the drug. His or her entire life will revolve around getting the drug, taking the drug, and finding ways to acquire more. It's not uncommon for these people to steal money or household items and sell them to raise money so that more Oxycodone can be purchased. Oxycodone abusers readily visit multiple doctors to acquire several prescriptions for the drug. In addition, many people addicted to Oxycodone have trouble staying awake after abusing the drug. As they walk or talk, they seem to be in a daze. They may also miss work or school often.

There are several ways to use Oxycodone, including snorting, swallowing, or injecting. Abusing the drug intravenously provides the most immediate and intense effects. Steps have been taken to alter the ingredients in Oxycodone so that it is more difficult to dissolve and fit into a syringe. While this has helped reduce the number of intravenous users of the drug, it has not completely eliminated the problem.  

Withdrawing From Oxycodone

It is important to note that Oxycodone addiction withdrawal symptoms can be very severe. It's because of this that detox under medical supervision is needed. Most people withdrawing will experience the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Sedation
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth

The amount of time that it takes a person to fully withdrawal from Oxycodone will depend on how long a patient was using the drug as well as how much of the drug was being abused. The psychological withdrawal symptoms tend to last far longer––several months to several years–– than the physical ones, which tend to last 2 to 21 days.  

Within the first few weeks of separating from Oxycodone, cravings and urges to abuse the drug again will be the most intense. If a person tries to separate from the drug without the help and support of others, there's a high likelihood that a return to Oxycodone abuse will take place. This is why it's so important to find an Oxycodone addiction detox facility. Not only do such facilities offer psychological support, they can also provide medical attention if withdrawal symptoms become too extreme, causing harmful reactions, like seizures.  

Understanding Importance of Supervised Oxycodone Detox

Many people may try to detox themselves of Oxycodone and, while this is perfectly fine for some, in all actuality, it's not the smartest decision. Medical supervision may be needed and, in these cases, detox facilities are of the utmost value. Additionally, since detox facilities provide inpatient care and services, it is much harder for a user to acquire additional drugs to abuse.  

Outpatient detox programs are also available, but they tend not to be as effective as an inpatient detox facility. When attending outpatient detox, a user is allowed to leave the facility on a daily basis. Since it is during this time of that the user endures strong cravings, 24/7 supervision is more beneficial, in many cases.

When a person first starts searching for a detox facility to attend, securing a bed may not be simple. There are many facilities that have long waiting lists. Once a bed has been obtained, a person will have only so many hours to arrive at the facility. It's not uncommon during this time that the person will abuse Oxycodone because he or she knows that detox is getting ready to start.  

Upon arriving at a detox facility, a person will be asked to fill out a lot of paperwork as well as go through a mental and physical assessment. A drug test will be given to identify the substances that the person had been abusing.  

It is extremely important that all questions asked are answered truthfully, as this helps to ensure the best possible detox support can be given. Oxycodone addiction detox programs will last anywhere from several days to several weeks. Very rarely are services needed for more than 30 days, but if they are, some detox programs can accommodate this need.  

Going to Oxycodone Addiction Rehab

During a detox program, a substance abuse counselor will meet with the patient to determine the severity of the substance abuse disorder. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that, after the counselor carefully assesses his or her patient, he or she will create a treatment care plan. The counselor or another employee will then make phone calls with the client to an assortment of treatment centers and they will discuss which treatment center the patient should go to. However, it is completely up to the patient as to whether or not a treatment program is actually attended.      

Some people who are addicted to Oxycodone may feel that when they get through detox, they have the strength it takes to stay clean. Unfortunately, most of these people end up relapsing rather quickly. A seamless transition from the detox program to a treatment center should take place. This means that, on the day a person is released from detox, he or she should be transported to a treatment facility. If the person comes home for a few days before going to treatment, this makes it easy for him or her to seek out more Oxycodone; if this takes place, he or she will have to go through detox all over again.  

When going to an Oxycodone addiction rehab center, the first day or so will be spent touring the facility and going through a number of assessments. Medications may be administered as part of a treatment plan. According to Harvard Health Publications, methadone will often be prescribed to curb Oxycodone addiction withdrawal symptoms. However, it is imperative to understand that methadone is addictive, itself. If medications are used within a treatment plan, they will always be administered by a staff member of the rehab center. Patients are not allowed to administer medicines themselves because there is a high likelihood that they will abuse them. 

As with any type of treatment plan, a substance abuser must follow through with all recommendations made by rehab center staff. This includes attending an aftercare program, which is usually outpatient and requires one to attend daily or weekly meetings with counselors and other people on the road to recovery.  When abusers follow their treatment plans, relapse is minimal and there is a greater chance of their staying clean for the rest of their lives. If relapse does occur, being honest is imperative, as this will help ensure the implementation of further treatment options before full-blown active addiction occurs again. 

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