An addiction to Oxycontin is something that can have a big impact on a person’s life. Getting help can turn that negative impact around.
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OxyContin (oxycodone) is a synthetic, opioid-based medication that is highly addictive. It is an opioid agonist prescribed for pain relief when pain is severe enough to require daily, long-term opioid treatment.1 However, OxyContin has a high potential for misuse and addiction, due to its euphoric effects. According to recent statistical surveys, 2.7 million Americans had an opioid use disorder (OUD) in 2020. Among those, 2.3 million persons misused prescription opioids, such as OxyContin.2 You should know its addiction potential and your options for pursuing treatment if you or someone you know develops an OxyContin addiction.
In this article:
- How Addictive is OxyContin?
- Why Does OxyContin Addiction Require Intensive Treatment?
- What is the Role of Medication in Treating OxyContin Addiction?
- What Therapies Treat OxyContin Addiction?
- What Social and Peer Support Groups Help With OxyContin Addiction?
- How to Find OxyContin Addiction Treatment
How Addictive is OxyContin?
OxyContin is highly addictive, even at recommended doses, and puts you at greater risk of overdose or life-threatening events with extended-release options. This medication should be prescribed only when other treatment options (i.e., nonopioid analgesics or immediate-release opioids) have been shown to be ineffective, not tolerated, or insufficient at managing pain.
OxyContin is classified as a Schedule II narcotic.3 Such classification means it has a high potential for misuse that can cause severe physical or psychological dependence, which can lead to addiction. Other Schedule II drugs that cause similar effects include:7
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Methadone (Dolophine)
- Fentanyl (Sublimaze or Duragesic)
As a synthetic opioid, OxyContin is more potent than naturally occurring opioids. Crushing or snorting OxyContin bypasses the pill’s sustained-release feature. This misuse will make you feel the full effects of the medication immediately. Being more potent than heroin and morphine, OxyContin is likely to result in an overdose that can prove life-threatening.4, 5
The other problem with this medication is that those who use it build a tolerance quickly. Tolerance means a once-effective dosage no longer has the desired effect, or increasing the dose is needed to achieve the same effects. Tolerance and dependence increase the likelihood of overdosing or developing an OxyContin addiction.3
Why Does OxyContin Addiction Require Intensive Treatment?
Intensive treatment is meant to address severe addictions. Highly distressing withdrawal symptoms from these severe addictions make it very difficult for you to quit substance misuse. Snorting or injecting OxyContin creates deep dependence and addiction in users, but even those who do not currently misuse the medication can develop habits of misuse.6 OxyContin withdrawal effects overlap significantly with withdrawal from other opioid-based painkillers. These withdrawal symptoms include:24
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle weakness and pain
- Flu-like symptoms
For this reason, intensive treatment for OxyContin addiction often is needed, including intensive interventions that may be needed to retain users in their treatment programs.1, 8
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What is the Role of Medication in Treating OxyContin Addiction?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can curb the intensity of withdrawals and cravings.8 MAT medications include methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone). Not only does MAT help reduce cravings and withdrawals, but it also prevents and reduces opioid overdose and can help sustain recovery.9 As a treatment approach to specific opioids, it effectively:9
- Improves retention in treatment
- Increases survival rates
- Enhances your ability to gain and maintain employment
- Improves birthing outcomes among pregnant parents with substance use disorders (SUDs)
- Decreases opiate use and criminal activities among individuals with SUDs
A pilot study conducted in rural Colorado employed MAT. They found that, after six months of attending Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) programs, participants had:10
- Used less heroin (52.1%), opioids (22.3%), and alcohol (38.6%)
- Improved their physical and mental health (53.4%)
- Decreased the frequency of disability (8.69%)
- Reduced symptoms (29.8%)
- Reduced pain (67.5%)
- Reduced worry (45.3%)
- Decreased anxiety (49.7%)
- Decreased depression (54.1%)
What Therapies Treat OxyContin Addiction?
Medications are an important element of treatment and are often coupled with varying types of behavioral therapies to address maladaptive patterns of behavior, dysfunctional coping strategies, interpersonal dynamics, unhealthy familial influences, etc., to help you work toward or maintain sobriety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works with clients to identify the bidirectional relationships between emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to function in a way that is less personally disruptive, distressing, and maladaptive.11
Dialectic Behavior Therapy
Dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT) is like CBT. DBT was developed specifically to help severely emotionally dysregulated persons who are hyper-reactive by helping them learn problem-solving behaviors.12
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based approach that helps you evaluate how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors function as extensions of your own value set.13
There are several different types of trauma-based therapies, such as eye-movement desensitization (EMDR) and cognitive process therapy (CPT), that help you reprocess traumatic memories into a more cogent accurate narrative rather than being a compilation of fragmented images.14, 15
Group therapy has curative properties rooted in its base of peer support that also act as a self-correcting mechanism.16 Family therapy is a systems-based approach that focuses on the dynamics within a family and how each member’s role is both intra- and interdependent on the other members of the family system and how this shapes how they learn behaviors, adapt, communicate, and relate to others.17
A broad group of techniques falls into the holistic therapy approach that includes dance, art, equestrian, music, meditation, yoga, nutrition, acupuncture, massages, and mindfulness training.18
What Social and Peer Support Groups Help With OxyContin Addiction?
Peer support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), transitional housing, or Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) are nonclinical ways to address addiction prevention, health, and intervention support. These groups maintain that shared experiences, responsibility, and cooperation can facilitate recovery.19 For those in recovery, peer support results in positive behavioral health outcomes that are equal to or greater than outcomes generated by non-peer professionals.20
Similar to the above peer-support interventions, family-based peer support interventions like Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) exist to increase familial compliance with an intervention for you as someone with a substance use disorder to help increase your level of engagement with treatment.21 CRAFT achieves the aforementioned by building motivation, utilizing contingency management training, functional analysis, treatment entry training, communication skills training, life enrichment, safety training, and immediate treatment entry.
How to Find OxyContin Addiction Treatment
You can explore many avenues to find OxyContin addiction treatment:22
- Ask members of your support system
- Search on the internet
- Ask your insurance provider
- Get a referral from your primary care physician, therapist, or psychiatrist
- Contact a spiritual leader
- Contact a social worker at a hospital or rehabilitation center
If you or someone you know has an OxyContin addiction, talk to a treatment specialist at 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to discuss available treatment options. They will direct you to the appropriate treatment program for your needs.
- S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015). OxyContin Prescribing Information.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Research Report: Overview.
- S. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division. (2020). Oxycodone.
- S. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drug Fact Sheet.
- Lofwall, M.R., Moody, D.E., Fang, W.B., Nuzzo, P.A., & Walsh, S.L. (2012). Pharmacokinetics of Intranasal Crushed OxyContin and Intravenous Oxycodone in Nondependent Prescription Opioid Abusers. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 52(4), 600-606.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2019). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. (2017). A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (3rd Ed.).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2022). Medication-Assisted Treatment.
- Amura, C.R., Sorrell, T.R., Weber, M., Alvarez, A., Beste, N., Hollins, U., & Cook, P.F. (2022). Outcomes from the Medication Assisted Treatment Pilot Program for Adults with Opioid Use Disorders in Rural Colorado. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 17(1), 1-11.
- Rector, N.A. (2011). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: An Information Guide. Center for Addiction and Mental Health.
- Swales, M.A. (2009). Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: Description, Research, and Future Directions. International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, 5(2), 164-177.
- Hayes, S.C., Pisterillo, J., & Levin, M.E. (2012). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Unified Model of Behavior Change. The Counseling Psychologist, 40(7), 976-1002.
- Oren, E. and Solomon, R.M. (2012). EMDR Therapy: An Overview of its Development and Mechanisms of Action. European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 197-203.
- National Center for PTSD. (2014). Cognitive Processing Therapy: Veteran/Military Version: Therapist and Patient Materials Manual.
- Coco, G.L., Melchiori, F.M., Oieni, V. & Infurna, M.R. (2019). Group Treatment for Substance Use Disorder in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized-Controlled Trials. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 104-116.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Family Therapy.
- Adeoyin, A.C., Burns, N., Jackson, H.M., & Franklin, S. (2014). Revisiting Holistic Interventions in substance Abuse Treatment. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 24(5), 538-546.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2015). Core Competencies for Peer Workers in Behavioral Health Services.
- Bassuk, E, Hanson, J, Greene, N.R., Richard, M., & Laudet, A. (2016). Peer-Delivered Recovery Support Services for Addictions in the United States: A systematic Review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 63, 1-9.
- American Psychological Association. (2011). Community Reinforcement and Family Training.
- American Psychological Association. (2022). Johnson Intervention.
- National Library of Medicine. (2020). Oxycodone.
- Moradi, M., Esmaeili, S., Shoar, S., & Safari, S. (2012). Use of oxycodone in pain management. Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, 1(4), 262–264.