Oxycodone (OxyContin) addiction

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid painkiller used in several prescribed medications across the UK – including OxyContin, Oxypro, Longtec, Reltebon, and Zomestine. Despite the drug improving the quality of life for millions of people, it is also one of the most abused prescription medications in the UK and this can quickly lead to oxycodone addiction. Recognising when your (or your loved one’s) oxycodone use has spiralled out of control and developed into an addiction could help save a life. Read more to learn about warning signs for oxycodone addiction and what next steps need to be taken to start the journey towards recovery.

Oxycodone addiction - OxyContin pack

What is oxycodone addiction

Oxycodone addiction is a form of opiate addiction when you compulsively need to take oxycodone regardless of the damage it is doing to your health, life or relationships. It is a myth that oxycodone addiction is due to someone being weak-willed or that addiction is a choice. Oxycodone addiction is extremely powerful and can happen to anyone but once it has developed, it can take over every part of your life and hurt all of those around you.

How does oxycodone addiction develop?

Oxycodone binds to opioid receptors around the brain and body to block pain signals and create a feeling of calmness and cause a rush of dopamine to be released. The human brain is hardwired to seek out anything that supplies us with dopamine and the large surges that oxycodone triggers are more intense than anything we can naturally create.

However, your brain quickly develops a tolerance to oxycodone, even when taking the drug as prescribed. This results in the user needing higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving effects and dopamine rush. The brain then redirects thoughts and behaviours towards taking the drug repeatedly over everything else. This can happen extremely quickly as oxycodone is a highly potent drug meaning addiction can develop after just a few uses.

What are OxyContin addiction symptoms?

It can be difficult to accept that you have an addiction to OxyContin or to spot it in your loved one as the brain tries to do everything it can to keep receiving dopamine hits, leading to denial or deception.

However, here are some general OxyContin abuse signs to look out for:

  • Wanting to quit taking oxycodone but not being able to
  • Intense cravings for OxyContin
  • Experience OxyContin withdrawals
  • Increased tolerance to OxyContin
  • Not being able to uphold responsibilities due to preoccupation with OxyContin
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed
  • Social isolation

Side effects of oxycodone abuse

There are also many unpleasant side effects that occur due to Oxycodone abuse, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach pain
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Physical weakness
  • Chest pains

Oxycodone addiction - stomach pain

When taking oxycodone, grapefruit juice should never be consumed, as the chemicals within it can alter the way oxycodone is processed in the body and result in more severe side effects. Alcohol should also be avoided at all costs when taking oxycodone. Both of these substances slow down the rate of functioning for many bodily systems, including breathing, heart rate and brain activity and so simultaneous use can result in a fatal overdose.

Is taking oxycodone long-term dangerous?

Long-term oxycodone use has numerous physiological and psychological effects, many of which can be life-threatening. When oxycodone is taken over a long period, the body gets used to the painkiller’s presence, and a dependency is developed. At this point, if a person’s regular dose of the drug is decreased or stopped, they will experience withdrawal symptoms which can pose a number of health issues.

Some other long-term side effects include:

  • Breathing troubles
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Losing consciousness
  • Mental health issues
  • Increased risk of a fatal overdose

How can I help a loved one addicted to oxycodone?

If you recognise any signs of oxycodone abuse in your loved one, it is crucial that they contact a medical professional as quickly as possible.

The first step you need to take when dealing with an OxyContin addiction is to talk to your loved one about their issue. However, for the chat to be effective and for them to seek help, you must let them know how their behaviour impacts you negatively.

If this doesn’t work, the next step may be to hold an intervention with a large group of close family and friends on a larger scale. Inviting a mental health professional to mediate the conversation can be extremely useful in keeping it on track.

Unfortunately, you cannot force someone to go seek help for oxycodone addiction and there is only so much you can do before it starts to affect your own happiness or mental health. At this point, it can be difficult to walk away, but be ready to support your loved one when they are ready to seek help.

How can Linwood House help me with oxycodone addiction?

If you are ready for oxycodone rehab, Linwood House is the perfect place to get back on your feet. We are a rehabilitation treatment centre in South Yorkshire, set in serene grounds for exploration and rejuvenation. Our expert staff offer around-the-clock care, ensuring our clients’ needs are met at all times.

We offer high-quality recovery plans which take a holistic approach to healing and include a range of therapies to replenish the body and brain. To find out more about our oxycodone addiction treatment programmes, contact Linwood House today to start your journey towards a future of sobriety.

Frequently asked questions

Is oxycodone the same as OxyContin?
Oxycodone is the opioid chemical that is present in a number of pain medications – including OxyContin. OxyContin contains modified oxycodone to make its effects last longer.
Is OxyContin still prescribed?
Yes, health professionals may prescribe OxyContin to treat severe and long-term pain but it is only available via prescription.
Is there a risk of an overdose of oxycodone?
Yes, the drug slows down vital bodily functions to such a low level that it can cause seizures, comas and other fatal consequences.
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