If you or someone you know needs treatment for OxyContin addiction, help is available with options to fit each person’s individual needs.
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OxyContin is a medication in the opioid family, used to treat moderate to severe pain. As with most opioids, OxyContin holds addictive properties and may put you at risk for addiction.1 If you have developed a dependence on OxyContin, many treatment options are available to help you in recovering from OxyContin addiction.
In This Article:
- OxyContin Misuse and the Opioid Epidemic
- Signs You May Need OxyContin Addiction Treatment
- Types of Treatment for OxyContin Addiction
- Therapies for OxyContin Addiction Treatment
- Ongoing Recovery Support
OxyContin Misuse and the Opioid Epidemic
OxyContin is known generically as oxycodone, which is categorized as a Schedule 2 narcotic by the U.S. Drug Administration (DEA). Schedule 2 substances are medications that can lead to strong psychological or physical dependence. They also have a high potential for abuse.1 In addition to their pain-relieving properties, opioids such as oxycodone produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria.
OxyContin has been a leading drug involved in the opioid epidemic, due in large part to aggressive marketing by its manufacturer, Purdue Pharmaceutical.2 In 2010, Purdue Pharmaceutical reformulated OxyContin to make it less addictive. Studies indicate that the reformulated extended-release version is less addictive, but not the immediate-release version.3
Misuse of OxyContin and other oxycodone medications continues. In 2019, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported oxycodone as the second most misused prescription pain reliever in the U.S., behind hydrocodone.4 Each year, more than 3 million people ages 12 and older in the U.S. misuse oxycodone products, and over 6,000 people die from overdoses involving oxycodone.4,5 OxyContin use also comes with the risk of side effects.
Signs You May Need OxyContin Addiction Treatment
Opioid medications such as OxyContin are highly addictive because it takes just a couple of weeks for the body to become dependent on them.6 This high potential for addiction is why doctors generally prescribe opioids for short-term pain relief of just a few days. With longer periods of opioid use, your body can become tolerant to the medication, requiring stronger or more frequent doses to attain the same effects. At this point, if you try to stop taking OxyContin, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Other potential warning signs of OxyContin addiction include:7
- Taking OxyContin in larger amounts or for longer than prescribed
- Wanting to reduce or stop using OxyContin but not managing to
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the use of OxyContin
- Having cravings and urges to use OxyContin
- Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of OxyContin use
- Continuing to use OxyContin, even when it causes problems in relationships
- Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of OxyContin use
- Using OxyContin repeatedly, even in dangerous situations
- Continuing to use OxyContin when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the drug
If you identify with any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, it may be time to consider OxyContin addiction treatment.
Types of Treatment for OxyContin Addiction
When treating drug dependence, no single treatment method is the best for everyone, and that holds true for recovering from OxyContin addiction. Everyone’s experience of addiction is different, which is why treatment plans are developed to meet each individual’s needs and concerns.8
Addiction professionals will consider all facets of your life to help you find the best treatment setting, interventions, and services for successful recovery. Your treatment plan will focus on meeting your medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal needs, while considering factors such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and culture.8
Recovering from Oxycontin addiction may require multiple treatment settings, depending on the severity of your addiction and other health factors. It generally takes about three months of treatment to establish a strong foundation for long-term sobriety.8
Detoxing from OxyContin
Detoxification is the first step in OxyContin addiction treatment. When starting detox, withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 6 to 8 hours after your last dose of OxyContin.9
OxyContin withdrawal symptoms may include:10
- Bone pain and muscular aches/spasms/tension
- Changes in body temperature
- Chills and goosebumps
- Hyperalgesia (enhanced pain sensitivity)
- Drooping eyelids
- Pupil dilation
- Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Heart rate changes
- Teeth chattering
- Emotional pain
- Loss of motivation
Withdrawal symptoms can become very uncomfortable, but they can be managed with medical oversight and the use of medications.10
The leading medications used to manage withdrawal from OxyContin and other opioid medications include:10
- Methadone—A long-acting treatment used to manage opioid detox, methadone helps to reduce opioid cravings and minimize relapse risks. It is given orally or intravenously but can only be dispensed by a federally licensed program, which may be in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
- Buprenorphine—This frontline treatment is deemed as effective as methadone in OxyContin addiction treatment. Buprenorphine can also be used to prevent withdrawal symptoms from starting when given 12 to 18 hours after the last dose of OxyContin.
Lofexidine (Lucemyra) is a newer drug approved to treat opioid withdrawal. Studies show that it does not relieve withdrawal symptoms as well as methadone or buprenorphine. However, detox treatment is shorter with lofexidine.11
Before detoxing from OxyContin use, it is recommended to taper off the medication gradually, rather than abruptly stop its use. This will help limit withdrawal symptoms and result in an easier and safer detox process. Tapering off OxyContin ranges anywhere from 10 days to a month.9
Once your detox period is completed, OxyContin addiction treatment can begin. Detox is the first necessary step in recovery but will not cure you of your addiction. To achieve long-term sobriety, continuing treatment is vital.
Inpatient treatment can help you develop a strong foundation for long-term recovery. Many individuals complete their detox phase in an inpatient rehab center and continue with addiction treatment in the same facility. If you undergo detox in a hospital, you will most likely be transferred to an inpatient facility.8
Most inpatient programs last for 30 days or more. This will give you time away from the environment in which you obtained and misused OxyContin. Being removed from your normal daily environment will help you avoid triggers, cravings, and potential relapse. Additionally, residential rehab provides a safe place where you can emotionally and verbally process your addiction with professional clinicians and peers who are also seeking recovery.8
In residential rehab, you will receive medical care including medications needed to treat your addiction and other possible mental health conditions. You will also work with a licensed counselor to build a therapy treatment plan for successful recovery.
Outpatient treatment for recovering from OxyContin addiction can take place in one of two ways. Individuals with a moderate addiction may be able to start outpatient treatment directly after completing detox. Those with a more severe addiction will likely start their care in a residential rehab center and continue with outpatient treatment as they re-immerse themselves into the community.
In either scenario, outpatient treatment provides ongoing therapy and medication management. Through outpatient addiction treatment, you will continue to build skills and strategies for managing cravings and triggers to prevent a relapse.
Two forms of outpatient treatment that follow residential rehab recovery include Intensive Outpatient Treatment and Partial Hospitalization Treatment. Both of these treatment options offer individual therapy, group therapy, and 12 step meetings.8
The primary difference between these two outpatient programs is the frequency of patient visits. Partial Hospitalization Treatment typically includes individual and group therapy sessions roughly 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours each visit. An Intensive Outpatient Program usually includes individual and group therapy sessions once or twice a week for roughly 1-2 hours each visit.8
Some people may begin with Partial Hospitalization Treatment and then step down to an Intensive Outpatient Program, or go directly to the latter after residential treatment. Your therapist will recommend the most appropriate path for you based on your treatment needs.
Therapies for OxyContin Addiction Treatment
Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” is an essential component of OxyContin addiction treatment.12 The types of therapy offered as part of your treatment plan will depend on your individual needs, as well as your stage of recovery, and may include the following.12
- Motivational interviewing seeks to build a person’s self-motivation for recovery.
- Psychodynamic therapy explores the factors that may make a person vulnerable to addiction, such as childhood trauma, low self-esteem, and lack of emotional regulation.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps a person adopt healthier thinking patterns and coping skills to maintain sobriety.
- Contingency management uses prize-based incentives to reward positive behaviors in support of recovery.
- Network therapy involves friends or family members to reinforce behaviors that maintain sobriety.
- Family therapy engages family members to support an individual’s recovery while striving to improve interpersonal family relations.
Your therapist will suggest the types of therapy that may help you the most. Your input should also be welcomed concerning your treatment plan.
In addition to psychotherapeutic techniques such as the those listed above, some recovery programs also offer holistic approaches for addiction treatment.
While holistic interventions can be helpful additions to traditional therapy, they are not always recommended as primary treatments for addiction. This is because they will not address the root causes of your addiction in the same way psychotherapy does. As a result, you may not develop the coping skills to manage cravings and triggers through holistic treatment approaches alone.12
However, as complementary therapies, holistic treatments can have valuable effects for improved quality of life. Benefits of activities such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture include improved sleep, reduced depression and anxiety, and increased self-esteem.12 If you are looking to include more holistic interventions in your recovery plan, you may be offered any of the following:12
- Music therapy
- Equine therapy
These therapies can be integrated into your treatment plan to support your overall wellness and abstinence in recovery.
Ongoing Recovery Support
Ongoing support following treatment, also known as aftercare, is a lifelong process when recovering from OxyContin addiction to prevent relapse.
To achieve long-term sobriety, studies have shown the necessity of strong family and social networks. If your home life is not supportive of your sobriety, it is crucial to find a sober living environment.8 Sober living homes and halfway houses are options for living among others also working toward long-term sobriety without the risk of drugs or alcohol entering the home.
As part of your aftercare plan, you will also be encouraged to attend a recovery support group, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Participation in a recovery support group will enable you build valuable peer support among others working to maintain sobriety. Studies show that individuals who attend 12-step or other peer support meetings achieve greater abstinence, along with other benefits such as lessened depression and anxiety, than people who do not engage in peer support in recovery.12
During aftercare, it is also crucial that you continue any therapy sessions and medications which your healthcare providers recommend to support your ongoing recovery.
For information about recovering from OxyContin addiction and to locate a rehab center near you, call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to speak with a treatment specialist.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drugs of Abuse: A DEA Resource Guide/2020 Edition. U.S. Department of Justice.
- Zee, A.V. (2009). The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy. American Journal of Public Health, 99(2), 221-227.
- Coplan, P.M., Kale, H., Sandstrom, L., Landau, C., & Chilcoat, H.D. (2013). Changes in oxycodone and heroin exposures in the National Poison Data System after introduction of extended-release oxycodone with abuse-deterrent characteristics.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.
- Hedegaard, H., Bastian, B.A., Trinidad, J.P., Spencer, M., & Warner, M. (2018, December 12). Drugs Most Frequently Involved in Drug Overdose Deaths: United States, 2011–2016. National Vial Statistics Reports, 67(9).S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Opioid Addiction. The Science of Addiction.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Substance-related and addictive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (3rd Edition).
- Wakim, J. H. (2012). Alleviating symptoms of withdrawal from an opioid. Pain and therapy, 1(1), 4.
- Shah, M., & Huecker, M. R. (2021, May 21). Opioid Withdrawal. StatPearls Publishing.
- Wakeman, D. (2018, June 6). Lofexidine: Another option for withdrawal from opioids, but is it better? Harvard Health Publishing.
- Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D., Frances R. Levin, M.D., Marc Galanter, M.D. & Herbert D. Kleber, M.D.. (2020). The American Psychiatric Association Publishing Textbook of Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Sixth Edition. American Psychiatric Association Publishing.
- Polcin, D. L., & Korcha, R. (2015, September 11). Motivation to maintain sobriety among residents of sober living recovery homes. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 6, 103-111.