OxyContin Withdrawal Help

OxyContin is a potent, highly addictive medication that is prescribed for pain. People who become physically dependent on OxyContin generally experience withdrawal when they stop taking the drug. OxyContin withdrawal help can make becoming free of symptoms and the drug easier to attain. Although symptoms of withdrawal are often associated with long-term substance use or abuse, they can appear in as little as two weeks of OxyContin use, even when used as prescribed. With help from trained medical professionals, withdrawal from OxyContin can be achieved safely.

OxyContin is one of the most frequently prescribed medications to help manage moderate to severe levels of pain. Most commonly, it is prescribed after a surgical procedure or injury. Short-term use of the medication is very effective for treating pain. However, it is also possible to become physically dependent, or even addicted, in as little as two weeks of use. Risk for addiction increases with long-term or heavy use, and when preexisting mental health conditions or a family history of addiction are also present.

OxyContin acts by affecting receptors found in the brain, spinal cord and gut to reduce pain and induce a feeling of euphoria, or well-being. When OxyContin is used for a long period of time, the body tends to rely on it for the effects and thus produces less internally for pain relief. When use of OxyContin is stopped, the body needs to adjust to begin naturally producing pain relieving hormones again.  This physiological process accounts for some of the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced as a result.

Signs Of OxyContin Physical Dependence And Addiction


Physical dependence and addiction are different issues. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to a specific drug by requiring a person to take more of it to achieve the same effects. Or the body reacts by causing physical and mental problems when intake of the substance has abruptly stopped. Physical dependence can occur even when prescription medication is taken as prescribed, over a long period of time. Physical dependence can exist without addiction.

On the other hand, addiction is generally characterized by an inability to stop using a substance, and the substance’s use causes a disturbance in daily life functions. Usually, addiction is also accompanied by physical dependence.

Addiction generally has both physical and behavioral signs that can be outwardly observed.

Physical signs of OxyContin addiction include:

  • Extreme pupil constriction
  • Impaired coordination and speech
  • Shaking and jerking movements
  • Problems falling or staying asleep
  • Inattention to hygiene
  • Eating significantly more or less than usual

Behavioral signs of OxyContin addiction include:

  • Significant mood swings
  • Irritability and volatility
  • Periods of mania (extreme energy and highs, followed by extreme lows and decreased activity)
  • Unusual absences, lateness, or failure to perform responsibilities
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Financial problems
  • Disruptions in interpersonal relationships (family and friends)

Withdrawing From OxyContin


When a person becomes physically dependent on or addicted to OxyContin he or she will usually experience withdrawal when the OxyContin use is stopped. And even though the withdrawal process is different for each individual, it generally begins about four to 24 hours after the last use. Initial withdrawal symptoms may include intense OxyContin cravings, mild dysphoria (or general dissatisfaction with life), and emotional mood swings from anxiety to depression and fear. The detoxification process can take up to 10 days or more to complete and depends upon the frequency and length of time OxyContin was used.  In some cases, symptoms of withdrawal may persist for months or years.

Secondary withdrawal symptoms that begin after 24-48 hours include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Stomach and other muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Intense sweating

OxyContin withdrawal help can come in the form of several medications designed to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Medications commonly prescribed to provide OxyContin withdrawal help include methadone, buprenorphine, clonidine, and naltrexone.

  • Methadone is an agonist that acts by affecting the way the brain responds to pain. It activates the brain’s opioid receptors but is slower acting than other painkillers. It also helps decrease withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is often used long-term as a maintenance medication for people addicted to opioids, but the dose can be decreased over time.  One drawback is that methadone itself can also be highly addictive. In addition, methadone treatment must be conducted in a highly structured clinical setting.
  • Buprenorphine is a newer medication that is used to help decrease the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids like OxyContin. It is a partial agonist, which means it activates the opioid receptors but generates a diminished response. Buprenorphine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 and is currently a first-line medication for withdrawal treatment. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine is not as highly controlled. It can be dispensed in doctors’ offices, community hospitals, and correctional settings. It has a lower risk of abuse and is effective in diminishing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.  Buprenorphine can be combined with other medications, like suboxone, which help reduce the potential for abuse.
  • Clonidine does not help reduce OxyContin cravings. However, it can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, muscle cramps, sweating, running nose, and watery eyes.
  • Naltrexone is not used for OxyContin withdrawal help but is generally employed as a maintenance medication after the opioid withdrawal process has ended. It is an antagonist, which means it blocks the receptors and inhibits with the “reward” effect of opioids. Naltrexone can effectively help prevent relapse. It should not be used by anyone who is currently taking any opioids, including methadone, because the combination could cause sudden withdrawal-like symptoms. In fact, naltrexone is usually only used after all opioids are out of the body.=

Residential treatment can be very beneficial when seeking OxyContin withdrawal help. In a residential, or inpatient setting, people experiencing withdrawal symptoms would be monitored by a medical professional to ensure an emergency situation does not arise. Additionally, medications like methadone can be provided to aid in the withdrawal process.

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OxyContin Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment


Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is emerging as a very effective method to deal with addiction to opioids like OxyContin. The process has been linked to a decrease in overdose, retention in treatment, and an overall reduction in drug use.

Despite its effectiveness, MAT is extremely underutilized. Many medical professionals believe the cause is a misperception that other drugs, like methadone or buprenorphine, are substituted for opioids such as OxyContin. Additionally, this attitude can lead to insufficient dosing and thus treatment failure when employing MAT. The failure of the treatment plan can further engrain beliefs that the system does not work.

However, research suggests that MAT is most effective when it is provided in adequate medication dosages and along with significant behavioral interventions, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), in an individualized treatment program.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to teach people who are addicted to OxyContin to overcome the physical and behavioral symptoms associated with use and withdrawal.  Individuals learn to identify and prevent negative, unhelpful behaviors and patterns of thinking, and replace them with helpful behaviors and patterns of thinking.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy helps build the necessary motivation to seek assistance and commit to specific treatment strategies. The concept is based on principles of motivational psychology that identify the human desire to seek reward and avoid negative outcomes. The intent is to reward helpful behaviors, like not using drugs and seeking help, and to ignore or provide negative sanctions for unhelpful behaviors, like using drugs.

MAT in a residential setting could also be very helpful for a person who is experiencing OxyContin addiction and withdrawal symptoms. A residential treatment program provides 24-hour care by medical professionals in a safe and controlled environment, or therapeutic community. There, treatment can be intensive and individualized while using the entire community to enhance treatment. Staff, other residents, and the individual are able to create a social context to learn and practice new skills. Treatment can highlight development of interpersonal skills, personal accountability, responsibility, and social productivity.  Because of the nature of the residential setting, programs can also usually deep dive into individual examination of damaging self-beliefs, self-concepts, and behavior patterns while attempting to create new, helpful ones.

Comprehensive services provided can also include vocational and occupational therapy, as well as other support services that can be helpful after residential treatment has ended.

While OxyContin withdrawal can be a serious issue, it generally is not life-threatening. However, quitting OxyContin “cold-turkey” and unsupervised is generally discouraged. Often, the pains of withdrawal can lead to unhelpful choices like using the drug to stop the pain. In these situations, the potential for a medical emergency due to overdose on OxyContin, or substituting illicit drugs like heroin, can increase.

Seeking OxyContin withdrawal help can increase chances of a safe detox and withdrawal process and improved long-term outcomes.