Oxycodone addiction treatment can help people who are addicted to the prescription drug oxycodone overcome dependence and return to living a drug-free life. Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever, also known as an analgesic. Analgesics are highly effective at reducing pain after surgery or an injury. Oxycodone is often sold under the brand name Oxycodone, although generic forms are also available. Because it is highly addictive, many people who start using oxycodone for pain relief become dependent on it and start abusing the drug.
Common Effects of Using
Oxycodone is an opiate, so it belongs to the same class of drugs as heroin, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and methadone. Some opiates come from poppy seeds, while others, like oxycodone, are created in the lab. These drugs boost the effects of two types of brain chemicals, endorphins and enkephalins. The ultimate effect of this action in the brain is a reduction in pain, a reduction in anxiety, and a feeling of euphoria.
Signs of Overuse and Abuse
Many oxycodone addicts start out as legitimate users who are prescribed the drug to relieve severe pain. Over time, a user can become addicted to oxycodone and develop tolerance, a situation in which the user needs higher doses each time in order to achieve the same level of pain relief. Once an addiction has begun, the user may take more oxycodone than prescribed or may take it more frequently than instructed by a doctor. This behavior is considered oxycodone abuse, and is a sign that oxycodone addiction treatment may be necessary.
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In some cases, oxycodone is used recreationally in order to get a high. People who use oxycodone in this way often obtain the drug illegally, either by purchasing it on the black market or by using oxycodone that was prescribed for a family member or friend. When used recreationally, oxycodone pills are often crushed before being consumed, snorted, or dissolved in water and injected. Oxycodone in liquid form is sometimes taken in high doses as well. This produces a more immediate and intense high than taking oxycodone as prescribed, since the pills are typically designed to release the drug slowly over time, not all at once. Recreational use of oxycodone is never healthy or harmless. If you know someone who uses oxycodone for non-medical purposes, that individual likely needs to start receiving oxycodone addiction treatment.
Individuals who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction are more likely to become addicted to prescribed oxycodone.
Dangers of Oxycodone
Oxycodone can cause serious health complications if abused. Even people who are taking a medically prescribed dose of oxycodone may experience side effects. These include constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dry mouth, and itching. In high doses, oxycodone can also cause severe weakness, shallow breathing, clammy skin, confusion, slowed heartbeat, and seizures. An overdose of oxycodone can be fatal because it can cause respiratory arrest.
Another danger of using oxycodone is that addicts often start to neglect their own health and safety. Driving or operating machinery while on oxycodone can be extremely dangerous. The drug can also impair a person’s ability to concentrate and may contribute to accidents in the home. People who inject oxycodone may be at risk of contracting a disease through the use of shared needles.
Some pain relievers with oxycodone also contain other medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Someone who takes an excessive dose of these oxycodone products may experience health complications due to an overdose of the other components.
Developing a Physical and Psychological Addiction
Oxycodone addiction occurs on both the physical and psychological levels. Physical addiction develops because the brain changes when the drug is used over a long period of time. Psychological addiction to oxycodone develops when a person starts to believe that he or she cannot control pain without the drug.
Recognizing the Need for Treatment
There are some signs that indicate a need for oxycodone addiction treatment. People who are addicted to oxycodone may exhibit one or more of these symptoms:
- They take more oxycodone than intended or prescribed.
- They spend excessive amounts of time trying to obtain oxycodone, high on the effects of oxycodone, or recovering from the effects of oxycodone use.
- They repeatedly try to stop using oxycodone but are unsuccessful at quitting.
- They give up formerly pleasurable activities in favor of using the drug.
- They continue using oxycodone despite their drug use having a negative effect on family relationships, grades, or work activities.
- They continue to use oxycodone even after they experience serious physical or psychological effects from the drug.
- They engage in criminal activity to obtain more of the drug.
- They experience strong cravings for oxycodone when deprived of the drug.
Oxycodone use among teens is a growing problem. A 2010 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 5.1 percent of 12th graders used oxycodone recreationally at some point during the previous year.
Withdrawing from the Drug
When a drug user stops taking oxycodone, withdrawal symptoms are common. These symptoms are not usually dangerous, but they tend to make the recovering addict extremely uncomfortable. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Body tremors
- Hot and cold flashes
The severity of symptoms depends on the specific dose of oxycodone the person was taking and how quickly the withdrawal process takes place. Because these symptoms are so uncomfortable, withdrawal can be a frightening process for some addicts. Medically managed detoxification is often useful so that the individual does not start taking the drug again just to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone detox is the first step of any oxycodone addiction treatment program. This phase of treatment involves halting drug use and getting through the withdrawal symptoms that develop after you stop taking the drug. A doctor typically manages this process.
During medically managed oxycodone detox, the doctor provides successively lower doses of oxycodone so that the dose is tapered off over time instead of being suddenly halted. Because the detoxification process may take a while, other forms of treatment are also begun at the same time. These may include individual counseling, group counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The Rehabilitation Process
In some cases, the doctor prescribes a maintenance medication after detoxification is complete. The most common drug currently used in oxycodone addiction treatment is buprenorphine. This medication acts on the same receptors in the brain as oxycodone or other narcotics, but it produces much weaker effects. Therefore, it is useful for preventing the recovering oxycodone addict from relapsing due to cravings. Buprenorphine is often used in combination with naloxone, a drug that neutralizes injected opiates and keeps the patient from starting to abuse buprenorphine. Eventually, the person is weaned off the maintenance medication and returns to a completely drug-free lifestyle.
Specially certified physicians can prescribe the medical maintenance drug buprenorphine for at-home use, but many pharmacies refuse to stock the drug for fears of abuse.
How Therapy Benefits the Individual
“Therapy is an important step in most oxycodone addiction treatment programs.”
Therapy is an important step in most oxycodone addiction treatment programs. Group therapy can be used to help the person address his or her drug use with others who understand what he or she is going through under the guidance of a trained therapist. Individual therapy provides a venue for self-assessment that can help the recovering user understand how drug use has impacted his or her life and investigate any underlying psychological issues that might hamper recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a highly effective form of counseling that teaches the recovering oxycodone user how to overcome the addiction and resist future temptation that could lead to a relapse. Some people also benefit from other forms of therapy, such as family therapy. Family therapy tends to be extremely useful for adolescents or teens who are recovering from oxycodone addiction. Family therapy can teach family members effective ways to help the former drug user stay clean and can improve family functioning so that relapse is less likely.
Other Available Options
Oxycodone addiction treatment can take many forms beyond medication and therapy. Some recovering addicts find that participation in a 12-step program, such as Narcotics Anonymous, is helpful. This type of program provides valuable support that can help the recovering addict stay motivated to continue his or her journey toward recovery.
Holistic oxycodone addiction treatment is another option. This type of program uses alternative treatment methods, such as yoga, meditation, acupressure, and art therapy, to help the addict recover.
Comparing Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Oxycodone addiction treatment can be performed in an inpatient clinic or on an outpatient basis. An inpatient clinic provides a safe, controlled environment for the recovery. At a private clinic, the patient can be monitored day and night during detoxification, so withdrawal symptoms can be treated immediately. Inpatient clinics also help the patient stay away from temptation.
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Outpatient oxycodone addiction treatment involves repeated visits to a hospital or clinic over a long period of time. This can be useful for people who need to continue attending work or school while in treatment. Drug tests to ensure compliance with the treatment program may be required for individuals using outpatient treatment.
Some people choose to use an inpatient treatment program for only the detoxification phase of treatment and then switch to an outpatient program for the remainder of treatment. Others check into an inpatient oxycodone addiction treatment clinic for a given period of time, typically six to 12 weeks, and then receive follow-up treatment on an outpatient basis.
In some cases, the patient may benefit from treatment in a therapeutic residential community, a structured program that takes six to 12 months to complete. The patient lives at the facility for the entire course of treatment. This type of program may be most useful for people with a long history of drug abuse or with multiple addictions that must be treated concurrently.
The patient may also need treatment for the initial condition that required an oxycodone prescription. Without this treatment, the patient may experience excruciating pain when oxycodone use is halted and may return to using the drug to relieve the pain.
What Comes Next?
After oxycodone addiction treatment, the danger of relapse is a constant concern for many addicts. Participation in follow-up treatment can reduce the risk of relapse and help the former drug user stay clean and sober. Follow-up treatment may involve attending therapy sessions for an extended period of time after the main treatment program has concluded. It may also involve continued participation in a 12-step program.