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Article Summary

Oxycontin Withdrawal

OxyContin is an oxycodone derivative. It was specifically formulated for releasing pain medication directly into the body over 12 hours. This makes it one of the strongest prescription painkillers available on the market.

In particular, the drug is commonly prescribed for the treatment of severe and long lasting pain as a result of conditions like cancer and arthritis. The doses tend to range from 10 mg to about 80 mg, depending on the nature of the pain.

The medication is also beneficial for people suffering from chronic pain that would otherwise prove unmanageable. It provides consistent pain relief that can last for 12 hours, which enables the patients who receive the prescription to participate in everyday activities without having to re-medicate every 3 to 6 hours, and they can instead focus on their normal daily routine.

Understanding Oxycontin

OxyContin is one of the strongest opiates prescribed as a medication today. However, since the drug is supremely addictive, it is only supposed to be used for the treatment of severe pain.

The substance is also related closely to morphine, since it is extremely powerful. This makes it so dangerous that some people have compared it to black tar heroin, hence its street name hillbilly heroin.

However, most of the pain relief benefits of this drug are somewhat overcome by its addictive nature. If you are addicted to it, your body may soon become used to it and come to expect to have OxyContin in its system. Therefore, when the levels of this substance in your body drop below this expected amount, you may start detoxing and experience adverse withdrawal symptoms.

When detox isn't done correctly - especially with strong prescription painkillers like Oxy, your withdrawal may prove to be extremely distressing and painful. This is why it is highly recommended that you get professional help.

At the moment, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has classified OxyContin as a Schedule II controlled substance. As such, the drug is highly regulated, meaning that you can only legally obtain it from a physician's prescription.

Additionally, due to the many issues related to the abuse of such narcotic drugs, the federal government closely and tightly monitors their distribution - at least more than it monitors other Schedule II drugs.

However, in spite of the extra attention and scrutiny that is paid to the class of drugs that OxyContin belongs to, opiate drug abuse is still a major concern among people, medical personnel, politicians, and law enforcement agencies.

Opiate Use Disorder

Substance use disorders represent severe forms of mental health disorders. It happens when you experience problems associated with your use of drugs, illicit substances, and alcohol.

Today, substance use disorder is the preferred clinical term used to refer to substance dependence or addiction and substance abuse. This is due to the fact that research into addictive behavior now indicates there is no fine line between the earlier designations used to refer to dependence and abuse, since these two tend to occur on a continuous basis.

Therefore, if you develop one form of substance use disorder after abusing a narcotic like OxyContin, you would be classified formally as having an opiate use disorder. This means that your problem is centered around the abuse of and dependence on opiates.

That said, opiate use disorders come with a variety of behavioral symptoms that clinicians look for to diagnose the condition. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Behavior indicating that you have lost control of your natural ability to use opiate drugs
  • Behavior suggesting that you nonmedical use of these drugs is becoming dysfunctional
  • Continued use of opiates in spite of the fact that you are experiencing significant functional impairment or distress due to this use
  • Developing tolerance to opiates
  • Recurrent nonmedicinal or recreational use of opiate drugs
  • The development of certain withdrawal symptoms when you significantly reduce the amount you use or stop using the drug altogether

On the other hand, OxyContin withdrawal refers to a wide variety of symptoms that might occur after you dramatically reduce the medication or stop using it after prolonged or heavy use. The symptoms you will experience will be similar to those experienced when people stop abusing other opiates, like codeine, methadone, Dilaudid, morphine, and heroin.

Causes Of Oxycontin Withdrawal

Although you may take OxyContin exactly how your doctor prescribed, the drug is similar to other opioid-based painkillers in the sense that it is highly addictive. Therefore, after your body adjusts to taking this medication, it may start building up tolerance to it.

This means that the dose you take will no longer provide the same pleasurable and pain reliving effects that you desire a couple of weeks after you start using OxyContin. Instead, you will have to take a higher dose to maintain the initial pain relief you derived from the drug.

Eventually, tolerance might lead to physical addiction, which will primarily be defined by the symptoms of withdrawal you may experience when you stop using the drug abruptly or miss one dose. In the same way, OxyContin comes with euphoric effects, which can also be mentally addictive. When this happens, your physical symptoms will be intensified even more.

That said, all opiate-based drugs can cause addiction and physical dependence. Therefore, if you take Oxy for a given time period, you may build up tolerance to it - meaning that you will eventually have to take greater amounts to achieve the same desired effects.

Overall, anyone who has used this drug over a particular duration - typically a couple of weeks or more - may suffer from these symptoms. However, withdrawal from OxyContin will vary from one person to the next and will only happen when you cut down or quit. This also includes those who may have started taking the medication as a prescription for pain management while recovery from injuries and surgery.

Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity and amount of the withdrawal symptoms you will experience from OxyContin will mostly depend on a variety of factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The amount of the drug you took
  • The duration during which you took the medication
  • The mode of use
  • The severity of your OxyContin addiction or dependence

That said, OxyContin is a very powerful opiate pain killer and it achieves this feat quite fast - even with a small dose. Therefore, the amount of oxycodone you take will play a major role in determining the severity of your withdrawal. Still, withdrawal will occur because your brain and body will be attempting to regain balance after weeks or months of experiencing intense chemical interference from the drug.

This means that if your brain is highly dependent on OxyContin, it will take longer to restore its natural stability. During this time, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms that are more or less similar to flu symptoms - only more pronounced.

Consider the following:

a) Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the physical symptoms of withdrawing from OxyContin include:

  • Yawning (for no apparent reason)
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Gooseflesh
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive tearing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulties regulating body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Abdominal cramping

b) Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawing from OxyContin may also be psychological in nature, as symptomized by the following effects:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Drug cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Agitation

Luckily, withdrawing from opioids is rarely life threatening although it may be quite uncomfortable. However, when you combine OxyContin with another illicit or intoxicating substance - particularly another CNS (central nervous system) depressant such as a benzodiazepine or alcohol - might increase the duration and severity of the withdrawal. It may additionally heighten all and any risk factors.

As we mentioned earlier, the symptoms you will display when you withdraw from OxyContin will be similar to those that arise from other opioid painkillers. However, they may be more severe although this will depend on the doses you were taking and how long you abused the drug.

Since OxyContin is such a strong medication, the potential for dependence, tolerance, and eventual withdrawal is quite high. In particular, the symptom of withdrawing from this drug might range from severe to mild - depending on the dose and the duration of use.

In most cases, these withdrawal symptoms will manifest 6 to 30 hours after you last used the drug. Typically, OxyContin withdrawal comes in two phases. The symptoms will be acute for 1 to 2 weeks immediately after you stop taking the medication.

Consider the following:

i) Early Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Symptoms that are similar to flu or a cold, like body aches, fever, chills, sweating, and a runny nose
  • Sleep changes (extreme insomnia)
  • Physical changes, like yawning, cramps, and muscle aches
  • Mood changes, such as agitation, restlessness, irritation, and anxiety

ii) Late Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Shivering
  • Reduced appetite
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Blurry vision
  • Abdominal cramps

Even though withdrawing from OxyContin might feel terrible, it may not threaten your life. However, it is highly recommend that you go for medical detox - if only to reduce the high likelihood of restarting your use of the drug (a situation referred to as relapsing).

Oxycontin Withdrawal Timeline

OxyContin is sold as an extended release drug. This means that when you take it in pill or tablet form it will not start wearing off for about 12 to 24 hours after your last dose. Still, the drug comes with a half-life of about 4 hours. Therefore, if you abuse it in ways that go over and beyond this time-release aspect, you may experience withdrawal 4 to 8 hours after your last dose.

Typically, however, the late symptoms of withdrawal will start about 24 hours after you experience the early symptoms. In most cases, the first full day of withdrawal might seem like you have severe flue, although the 2nd day will relive more typical symptoms.

OxyContin is like other opioids in the sense that withdrawing from it takes anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks. Most of the acute symptoms will start clearing up after about 3 days, although withdrawal might still continue for over a fortnight.

If you suffer from a severe addiction to OxyContin, you might experience intense psychological withdrawal symptoms for a couple of months after you stop abusing the drug.

The duration and severity of OxyContin withdrawal varies from one person to the next. In most cases, however, the most uncomfortable Oxy withdrawal symptoms might subside anywhere from a couple of days to about a week after you stop using the drug. However, if they persist for longer than a week, you need to seek immediate medical advice.

Potential Dangers Of Oxycontin Withdrawal

As we mentioned earlier, withdrawing from OxyContin might be uncomfortable and disconcerting but hardly ever life threatening. Still, you may experience severe complications, some of which pose a danger to your health and general wellbeing.

Some of these complications include:

a) Aspiration

You might experience aspiration in case you vomit while withdrawing from OxyContin and breathe the contents of your stomach right into your lungs. This may lead to choking or lung infection.

b) Diarrhea and Vomiting

In the same way, the vomiting and diarrhea that accompanies OxyContin withdrawal may cause severe dehydration. You may also experience severe mineral and chemical disturbances in your body as a direct result of these two symptoms.

c) Relapse

However, the biggest danger will happen when you stop taking Oxy and start using it again. Since withdrawal tends to reduce your natural tolerance for a drug, you might end up overdosing even if you take a smaller dose of OxyContin than you used to take before you quit.

In fact, most overdose deaths affect people who recently detoxed or withdrew from OxyContin but then decided to start using the drug again. The initial withdrawal period brings about lowered tolerance, meaning that the small amount of the drug they take may end up killing them.

Conclusion

Overall, it is essential that you get medical assistance while detoxifying your body of OxyContin. Although you will experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, they might be mitigated during detox. After you successfully complete this step, you can start planning to check into a drug rehabilitation and treatment facility to completely overcome your dependence on and addiction to OxyContin.

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