How To Get Off Oxycontin Safely
Five Common Reasons Doctors Prescribe OxyContin:
- Chronic low back pain
- Cancer-related pain
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Diabetic neuropathy pain
- Post-surgical pain
Oxycontin. Oxy. OC. Oxycotton. Hillbilly Heroin. Whatever name you know it by, OxyContin has made an undeniable, lasting impact on America in ways that are good, bad, and every shade of gray in between.
OxyContin is a brand name for the drug oxycodone, a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine, that is prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain. It is typically indicated for use twice per day, and should only be prescribed to patients who need powerful, around-the-clock pain relief. It is this “twice per day” dosage that was and is OxyContin’s primary selling point, giving it an advantage over other painkillers that require more frequent usage, which can disrupt daily life and sleep. But it is an accurate recommended dosage?
While OxyContin boasts a 12-hour dosing window, in comparison to many painkillers that last just 4-8 hours, many patients find they need to take another painkiller much sooner than a 12-hour dosing allows for. As such, they find themselves using OxyContin three, four, or more times each day, or supplementing between 12-hour doses with other painkillers. This question of how long OxyContin lasts has been a point of debate since OxyContin was still in its trial phase, and was the subject of an investigative piece by The Los Angeles Times.
Unfortunately, as is the case for all opioids, when using OxyContin for an extended period – even as directed – it can become habit-forming. This potential for addiction increases when patients use OxyContin more than twice per day, even when they are doing so not to “get high,” but to better manage their pain. If you are worried you are at risk of becoming addicted, or are already showing physical or mental signs of addiction, you may decide to stop taking OxyContin; however, it is important that you do not do this without first consulting a doctor.
How Does OxyContin Abuse Begin?
In most cases, the clients we treat for OxyContin addiction began taking the drug for its prescribed purpose – to relieve their often-debilitating pain, frequently following an injury or surgery. As such, the OxyContin was acquired through a valid, legal prescription from their doctor, which left many of them unaware of its potential dangers. It is extremely important to remember that even prescribed drugs can hurt you, and often accidentally. In fact, as CNN reports, “Every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental drug overdose. Most of the time, it’s from prescription narcotics called opioids.”
Signs of Possible OxyContin addiction include:
- Taking the drug even when you aren’t experiencing pain
- Taking larger than recommended doses
- Feeling euphoric after taking the drug
- Developing withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking the drug for only a few hours
For an even clearer picture of the opioid crisis in America, consider the prescription painkiller overdose statistics from the CDC, which highlight that “46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers in the US” every day. If you’re concerned about your own OxyContin use, you may have very good reason to be. Approved by the FDA in 1995 – more than 20 years ago – the opioid OxyContin has proven itself to be a controversial drug time and again. As we mentioned above, there were early concerns about its ability to manage pain for a full 12 hours, as was brought to light for many of us through the investigation by The Los Angeles Times. It has also been widely abused recreationally, which has aided in sullying its reputation.
While OxyContin should never be abused, there are some instances where using OxyContin as directed should be discontinued. These situations include:
- Fear of addiction. If you are worried that you may be addicted to OxyContin, you should talk to your physician about how to get off OxyContin safely and effectively. This conversation should include a discussion of your other pain management options.
- Allergic reaction. Some patients develop an allergic response to OxyContin. If you develop rashes, hives, itching, swelling of the face, or difficulty breathing soon after taking it, stop taking the drug and immediately consult a healthcare professional.
- No longer need pain relief. You may come to realize that the pain you initially needed treatment for has improved or completely resolved. This is often seen with patients who were using OxyContin for post-surgical pain relief, who have healed well. We understand there is a fear that the pain will quickly return if you stop taking OxyContin, and that the lasting memories of how severe it once was may keep you using the drug longer than necessary. This is why it is so important to closely monitor the physical and mental effects you experience when you stop using OxyContin, reporting back to your doctor as regularly as necessary until you’re confident that the post-op pain has decreased or resolved. Even if there is some lingering achiness, stiffness, or mild pain, your doctor can discuss other options with you that have less risk of becoming habit-forming.
How to Get Off OxyContin Without Serious Adverse Effects
The fear of OxyContin withdrawal keeps many people using the drug once it is no longer needed, or in higher doses than are needed. But whether you are using OxyContin as indicated and wish to stop, or have never had a prescription but want to stop abusing it recreationally, there are steps you can take to minimize the discomfort and detox safely.
Supervised OxyContin Detox
When you decide to partner with Alta Mira Recovery to get off OxyContin, your detox will be closely supervised to make it as comfortable as possible. We have created a private, welcoming space for our clients who enter their treatment program with OxyContin, or any drug, still in their system. This space is designed to be your safe haven during the detox process, after which you will move to our luxury drug rehab center for the remainder of your treatment program.
Alta Mira Recovery personalizes every element of your rehab treatment, including your supervised detox. While we do typically follow a tapering off protocol as stopping opiate use suddenly and completely can be very dangerous, we don’t have one standard protocol; many variables influence the most effective course of action for each client. These variables include, but are not limited to:
- Your history of OxyContin use
- Your history of opiate use in general
- The pattern of use you are currently following or have followed
- Any other substances you may currently be taking (including prescription drugs)
- Your overall physical and mental health
Opiate Agonists and Antagonists
As OxyContin leaves your system, you may experience withdrawal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, aches and pains, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and chills. These common effects of opiate withdrawal are what make it so important to have a supervised detox; wanting to escape the symptoms makes it all too easy to use the drug again if you try to detox by yourself before rehab.
The Alta Mira Recovery team is well-versed in OxyContin detox, and can help you physically, mentally, and emotionally during this crucial time in your recovery journey. We can talk with you about the complicated feelings detox can bring up, and provide you with opioid antagonists, such as Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), when appropriate, to help with anxiety and physical side-effects. We learn a great deal about our clients when we have the opportunity to treat them through the detox process, and find they feel less anxiety knowing that experienced professionals will be monitoring them every step of the way.
How to Stay Off OxyContin
- Your body produces natural opioids that are released to dull pain when you hurt yourself. If you habitually use painkillers, your body stops producing its own, relying on the drugs instead.
- Every 19 minutes, someone dies from an accidental prescription drug overdose, with most of those overdoses being from prescription opioids.
- In 2012, there were 259 million prescriptions for opioids in the U.S., nearly enough for every American adult and child to have their own bottle of pills.
While getting off OxyContin is a monumental accomplishment in and of itself, the fear and threat of relapse is always there. During your time at Alta Mira Recovery, we will spend the majority of time focused not on how to get off OxyContin, but how to stay off OxyContin now and forever. You will leave Alta Mira Recovery with a comprehensive recovery plan aimed at helping you achieve enduring sobriety – a plan that will likely include:
- An exercise regimen
- Alternative methods of pain relief
- Several outlets of social support, including 12-step programs like NA (Narcotics Anonymous)
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment
- Sober Living
- Ongoing individual and/or group therapy close to home
We’re excited to work with you on your path beyond opiate addiction. We look forward to the day you can stop wondering “how to get off OxyContin” because you have faced the opiate addiction battle head-on and came out on top.
It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to take a tremendous desire to stay off opiates altogether. It’s going to be something that’s always on your mind. But it will move from the front of your mind to the back of your mind. And with time, it will get easier. Because no matter how tough OxyContin addiction is, you’re tougher. No matter how strong the cravings, you’re stronger.
As a wise person once said, “Sometimes you have to forget what you want and remember what you deserve.” And what you deserve is just a phone call away at Alta Mira Recovery.