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OxyContin Withdrawal

It’s likely you know someone who is struggling to manage chronic pain since this issue affects such a large part of our population. It’s also likely that the person you know uses medications like OxyContin to treat their pain. 

Unfortunately, OxyContin is one of the medications responsible for bringing about the nation’s opioid crisis. We have seen a shocking number of deaths around us, and if you don’t know someone personally struggling with addiction, the numbers indicate you may know someone indirectly.

After many years of destruction building up to 2015, the number of deaths peaked due to opioid use. OxyContin, contains the active ingredient oxycodone, which is found in many prescription drugs available on the market. Even though it is used for chronic pain, it can be highly addictive. If your doctor recommends using OxyContin to treat an ailment, you may want to seek alternative solutions. 

Those who are in active addiction know that withdrawal symptoms are a massive part of the continued use of the drug. Many will continue to use OxyContin so that they can avoid withdrawal symptoms, despite any consequences that may occur. Withdrawal is a strong indicator that you’ve become addicted. It also is a sign that your body is trying to adjust to functioning without OxyContin.

It’s not likely that you will die as a result of stopping OxyContin, but withdrawal from it can be excruciating to endure alone. Many people usually turn to other drugs if the substance is not available. When you try to overcome addiction by yourself, it will be challenging, but stopping OxyContin use may be the difference between life or death. 

Addiction is deadly, but it can be even more severe when someone abuses OxyContin. It can lead to a life of heroin addiction or other illicit opioids like fentanyl. Drug-seeking behavior may push someone to death. While the process of overcoming an addiction is not easy, it can be done with the help of medical professionals. 

What Are OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Because it is classified as an opioid medication, OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of heroin or even fentanyl. There are distinct phases you can expect. The first phase is similar to having a common cold, while the second phase is more severe. Symptoms are similar to those of the flu, and they can be overwhelming. 

Opioids are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and they work to suppress your central nervous system. It is designed to relax your mind, body, and to reduce pain.

When someone develops a chemical dependency on OxyContin, they will have a hard time stopping cold turkey. The symptoms they experience may be a rebound of pain when the body is no longer depressed. Once the body acclimates to chemical reactions that drugs produce, anxiety, depression, or pain may become overwhelming as the body stabilizes.

Other general withdrawal symptoms you can expect from opioid use include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Panic attacks

The symptoms are not considered life-threatening, but they are, at times, uncomfortable enough to push someone back into OxyContin use. Even when it is used as prescribed, it can be challenging to stop using on your own. Studies indicate that prescription opioid abuse may lead to heroin addiction. The only way to overcome an opioid addiction is under the care of medical and addiction professionals. 

The physical symptoms will appear shortly after your last dose of the drug. The severity will increase over the next few days, and medical intervention during this time can help alleviate the symptoms. Those who choose to forego the process alone may set themselves up for failure. If you are able to overcome the symptoms for a few days and then relapse, you can potentially overdose due to a decreased tolerance. 

Stages of the OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline

We all have different physiological characteristics, and because of this, recreational OxyContin users and those prescribed the medication will experience a different timeline for withdrawal symptoms. 

The severity and duration of withdrawal will depend on several factors, including how long someone abused the drug. OxyContin is a short-acting opioid, so the symptoms usually appear six hours after the last use. In most cases, they will appear at least 12 hours after you’ve stopped the medicine. 

The peak of the symptoms will occur around 72 hours, and you’ll feel like you’re coming down with a cold. Symptoms will gradually worsen but start to subside around five days. The psychological symptoms could linger on for weeks or months after you stop. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is common in individuals who abuse opioids. In some cases, it may persist for a year.

Why Should I Detox?

Data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that nearly 46 people die from prescription opioid abuse every day. The issue must be addressed accordingly, and the only effective way to start the path to sobriety is through medical detox

The process involves specialists who respond to your immediate needs. Depending on your situation and the results of your assessment, you may receive medication to make the transition manageable. Detox is designed to make the process as painless as medically possible. 

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Once you complete detox, you are far from finished on your journey to recovery. You will be placed in the continuum of care and be given the treatment necessary. A recovery program will help you better recognize why you abused OxyContin and provide you with an effective relapse prevention plan.

Sources

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid Overdose. (2018, December 19). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/relationship-between-prescription-drug-heroin-abuse/prescription-opioid-use-risk-factor-heroin-use

Opiate and opioid withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

Treatment, C. F. (1970, January 01). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/

Kleber, H. D. (2007). Pharmacologic treatments for opioid dependence: Detoxification and maintenance options. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202507

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