Last Updated: October 26, 2022
Oxycontin misuse has strongly contributed to a massive opioid epidemic in our country. Oxycontin is a strong, prescription opioid(oxycodone) used to manage chronic and severe pain, such as cancer-related pain. However, opioids are very addictive, and misuse of Oxycontin and other opioids can lead to addiction, substance use disorder and even death. In fact, approximately 130 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day. Oxycodone addiction is very complex, with many signs, symptoms, and side effects.
Signs & Symptoms of Oxycontin Abuse
People who abuse Oxycontin may exhibit certain signs and symptoms. It is important to know the signs of Oxycontin addiction and to watch for them in people suspected of misusing the drug.
The most common physical symptoms of taking Oxycontin are:
- Abdominal pain
People who are abusing Oxycontin may also display psychological symptoms as well, including:
How To Tell if Someone is Addicted to Oxycontin
But how can you tell the difference between prescription use and misuse? How do you tell if someone is addicted? Addiction is characterized by pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Changes in your body’s biology plays a big role too! One tell-tale sign that someone is misusing and possibly abusing Oxycontin is if they take it in a way other than indicated, such as by crushing pills to then smoke or even dissolve to inject. These methods of delivery increase the addiction-potential of the drug by maximizing the Oxycontin’s strength but also increases their danger and risk.
Oxycontin Addiction Self-Assessment Quiz
If you are unsure whether your Oxycontin use has progressed into addiction take this quiz here to do an initial self-assessment. This quiz is not meant to replace a proper, clinical diagnosis of Oxycontin addiction.
Side Effects of Oxycontin Abuse
Short Term Side Effects
In the short term, Oxycontin can relieve pain and make people feel relaxed and happy. However, taking Oxycontin can also have other effects. The most common short-term physical side effects of taking Oxycontin are:
- Abdominal pain
Long Term Side Effects
Long-term use of Oxycontin also have long-term psychological side effects as well, including:
Symptoms of an Oxycontin Overdose
Even a single dose of Oxycontin can be fatal if it is taken incorrectly. People who misuse Oxycontin by smoking or injecting it bypass the slow, extended-release mechanism and release all of the drug into their system at once, instead of over a period of 12 hours. This can be enough to cause respiratory failure, or, in other words, make someone stop breathing.
Symptoms of Oxycontin overdose include:
- Respiratory depression
- Extreme sleepiness or drowsiness
- Stupor or coma
- Muscle weakness
- Cold or clammy skin
- Small or constricted pupils
- Pulmonary edema (fluid buildup in the lungs)
If you suspect somebody is having an overdose, IMMEDIATELY call 911.
How Do You Get Addicted to Oxycontin?
If Oxycontin is safe when prescribed, how do you get addicted to Oxycontin? Oxycontin is addictive because of the way it acts in our brain. Oxycontin and other opioids act on the brain’s natural (or endogenous) opioid system, causing pain relief and relaxation. It’s use can also release large amounts of dopamine throughout the brain. This release can strongly reinforce the act of taking the drug, making a person want to repeat the experience.
The brain also creates a long-lasting memory that associates these good feelings or “high” you get when you take Oxycontin with the circumstances and environment in which they occur. These memories often lead to the craving for drugs when a person struggling with addiction re-encounters those persons, places, or things, and they drive people to seek out more drugs.
How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Oxycontin?
Prolonged misuse of oxycodone medications such as Oxycontin eventually change the cells in the brain in such a way that a person cannot quit on their own.
This change can actually happen quite rapidly though, and some reports suggest that opioid tolerance can start within a matter of days. But tolerance or physical dependence isn’t always the same as addiction though. Addiction and abuse have their own signs and symptoms.
Oxycontin Abuse Statistics
The dangers of prescription opioid misuse, substance use disorder, and overdose have been a growing problem in the United States. The number of opioid prescriptions began to grow rapidly in the 1990s, peaked and then leveled off from 2010-2012 and has been declining since 2012. During this time (until 2017) almost 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids. That’s 130 Americans every day. Notably, oxycodone is among the most common three opioids (the other two being hydrocodone and methadone) involved in these overdose fatalities.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to Oxycontin or other substances, specialized help is always available at The Recovery Village Columbus. Contact us today to learn about the services we offer that can work best for your situation.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.