In today’s world, where health concerns are ever present, it’s essential to be informed about the potential risks associated with medications, particularly when it comes to powerful prescription drugs. One such medication that has garnered widespread attention and concern is oxycodone, better known by the brand name Oxycontin.
Oxycontin, an extremely addictive opioid, has been the subject of a recent Netflix documentary called Painkiller. At the start of each episode, relatives who had lost loved ones talked about how that person became addicted to Oxycontin addiction, clearly showing the severe addiction risks associated with this powerful painkiller.
In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the dangers of Oxycontin addiction, shedding light on its profound impact on individuals, families and communities.
Why is Oxycontin Addictive?
Oxycontin, also known as “Hillbilly Heroin” due to its illicit use, is a prescription medication containing oxycodone. Oxycodone is a synthetic opioid and is designed for the management of severe pain. It’s often prescribed for individuals suffering from conditions such as chronic pain, cancer pain or post-surgical recovery. However, despite its legitimate medical uses, oxycodone, which was sold in the highest quantities under the brand name Oxycontin, has a high potential for misuse and addiction.
Oxycodone works by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, effectively blocking pain signals. It also produces a sense of euphoria and relaxation, which can make it appealing to those seeking to escape emotional or physical discomfort.
Prescription vs. Misuse of Oxycontin
Many individuals initially encounter Oxycontin through legitimate medical prescriptions. They may take it as directed by their healthcare providers to manage pain effectively. However, misuse can occur when individuals take the medication in higher doses, use it more frequently, or use it without a prescription for recreational purposes.
Recognising Oxycontin Use and Signs of Addiction
Identifying Oxycontin use and the signs of addiction can be challenging as individuals may hide their misuse due to stigma or a lack of awareness about their condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Oxycontin Use
- Drowsiness: Oxycontin can cause extreme drowsiness, making individuals appear lethargic or excessively tired.
- Constricted pupils: One of the telltale physical signs of opioid use is pinpoint pupils (very small pupils).
- Slurred speech: Impaired coordination and cognitive function can lead to slurred speech.
- Nausea and vomiting: Oxycontin can induce nausea and, in some cases, vomiting.
Signs and Symptoms of Oxycontin Addiction
- Increased isolation: Individuals misusing Oxycontin often withdraw from social interactions, hobbies and responsibilities, opting to spend more time alone.
- Prescription shopping: Seeking multiple prescriptions from online providers is a clear sign of misuse.
- Social and occupational decline: A decline in social relationships and job performance may become apparent.
- Change in daily routine: An individual may prioritise drug use over daily responsibilities, leading to a significant shift in their daily routine.
- Mood swings: Rapid shifts in mood, ranging from euphoria to irritability, can be an indicator of Oxycontin use.
- Anxiety and depression: Oxycontin can lead to emotional distress, often manifested as anxiety or depression.
Physical Signs of Addiction
- Tolerance: Over time, individuals may develop tolerance to Oxycontin’s effects, requiring larger doses to achieve the same level of pain relief or euphoria.
- Withdrawal symptoms: When not using the drug, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include flu-like symptoms, severe cravings and anxiety.
- Cravings: A strong desire to use the drug, even when not experiencing pain, may signify addiction.
The Dangers of Oxycontin: Risks and Consequences
The opioid crisis has devastated families and entire communities across America. At the heart of this catastrophe is the prescription painkiller Oxycontin. Appreciating the immense harm caused by this single drug is critical to understanding the true scale of the opioid epidemic.
Oxycontin’s addictive properties make it an extremely high-risk substance, even when taken as prescribed. With prolonged use, the body builds up a tolerance, requiring ever higher doses to achieve pain relief or the desired effects. This quickly leads to physical and psychological dependence. The drug’s euphoric high gives way to a joyless existence centred around chasing the next pill.
When use is reduced or stopped, severe withdrawal symptoms like cold sweats, nausea, body aches and crippling anxiety make it almost impossible to quit without professional addiction treatment. Additionally, Oxycontin depresses respiratory function, and overdose is common, even when taken as prescribed. Accidental overdoses often happen when individuals take higher doses seeking a stronger high or mix the drug with other substances like alcohol that compound respiratory depression.
The long-term bodily harm caused by Oxycontin cannot be overstated. Prolonged use weakens the immune system and damages tissues and organs. Users frequently develop respiratory issues, cardiac problems, and cognitive decline. Oxycontin wreaks havoc on mental health as well, with many users suffering from extreme mood disorders.
For many caught in Oxycontin addiction, their next drug of choice eventually becomes heroin. Once tolerance to oxycontin sets in, many turn to cheaper, more potent street opioids. Oxycontin users also turn to an even stronger opioid, fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and can cause death the first time it is used, with just a tiny amount.
Oxycontin Addiction Treatment Options in the UK
Recognising Oxycontin addiction and its associated dangers is only the first step in addressing the issue. Addiction treatment is critical to support individuals in their journey toward recovery. NHS Addiction treatment is typically in an outpatient setting, although short-term hospital admission may be arranged for severe cases.
Residential rehab is not typically provided by the NHS, although individuals who meet specific criteria can be referred for funding; this is a service that is provided by private companies. Due to a lack of beds and available funding in almost all cases, the individual will be expected to use the outpatient addiction services provided by the NHS and would have to relapse before they would be put forward for residential rehab treatment.
For those addicted to potent opioids like Oxycontin, comprehensive residential rehab addiction treatment programs can provide the best chance for regaining health and reclaiming their lives. Treatment normally begins with medically supervised detox to alleviate withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. Following detox, inpatient rehab provides round-the-clock support and therapy for several months. Here, the psychological roots of addiction can be addressed through counselling, group meetings and training in coping strategies.
After inpatient rehab, ongoing aftercare recovery services provide the accountability and care needed to prevent relapse. Recovery is a lifelong process, but it starts with seeking help. For those wanting to break free from opioid addiction, the right treatment program can change everything. Removing barriers to affordable rehab is imperative so those in the throes of addiction can get help in their time of need. With support, hope and access to evidence-based care, recovery is achievable.