OxyContin Effects & Warning Signs

Understanding Oxycontin Addiction

Learn About Oxycontin Abuse & Addiction

OxyContin, the brand name for the narcotic painkiller, oxycodone, is a powerful prescription medication that works to reduce moderate to severe physical pain. Classified as a Schedule II substance, OxyContin is a drug that holds high potential to be abused or become addicted to. The primary function of the drug is specifically to help decrease physical pain, however, it also brings on feelings of pleasure, which keeps individuals desiring to use, as they enjoy the sense of relaxation, wellbeing, and euphoria. However, abusing a substance like this can cause the development of physical and psychological dependence, which can trigger the onset of opioid use disorder and destroy an individual’s life. As soon as dependency or addiction occurs, it can be tremendously difficult for individuals to defeat this without the help of trained professionals. Luckily, there are treatment options available that can help individuals put an end to their OxyContin addiction.


Statistics of Oxycontin Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that between 26.4 and 36 million people worldwide abuse some form of opioid. Within the United States, NIDA says that nearly 2.1 million people battle with substance use disorders that are linked to prescription painkillers like OxyContin. Additionally, the death rate connected to unintentional overdoses on prescription painkillers has quadrupled since 1999.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes & Risk Factors of Oxycontin Abuse

The causes and risk factors that can determine one’s likelihood of abusing opioids like OxyContin are briefly described in the following:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), genetic factors play a significant role in determining whether or not an individual will be vulnerable to abusing opioids at some point in his or her life. Those who have family members who struggle with substance abuse (particularly opioid addiction) are more likely to battle similar issues than are those who do not have this same genetic makeup. The APA also notes that temperamental factors, which are heritable, can play a role in whether or not an individual will be attracted to the abuse of this type of substance.

Environmental: Environments can play a large role in an individual’s vulnerability to abusing opioids like OxyContin. For example, socializing with others who abuse this substance can trigger an onset of OxyContin abuse within an individual. Additionally, OxyContin is readily available, making it more common for people to abuse it when they are in environments where they can obtain it. Lastly, suffering from a physical injury that warrants the prescription of a painkiller such as this can also boost one’s odds of developing opioid use disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male (The APA states that rates of opioid use disorder are higher in males than they are in females.)
  • Personal history of conduct disorder in childhood
  • Associating with peers who abuse drugs, including OxyContin
  • Having gone through surgery or suffering from an injury or complex pain condition that warrants the prescribing of a pain medication
  • Family history of substance abuse

Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Oxycontin Abuse

The signs and symptoms linked to opioid use disorder, including OxyContin addiction, will be different for each individual depending on how much he or she is using and how often he or she is using. Some potential symptoms can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in regular patterns of OxyContin use
  • Planning and attending to daily activities in a way that is centered on obtaining or using OxyContin
  • Continuing to abuse OxyContin despite the onset of disturbances in functioning
  • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drug
  • Slurred speech
  • No longer participating in activities that were enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home or at work
  • Using the substance in situations that are physically dangerous (e.g. driving while being high on OxyContin)

Physical symptoms:

  • Pupil constriction
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Drowsiness

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Experiencing continued cravings to use OxyContin
  • Impairment in attention
  • Impairment in memory

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Feeling in a state of unease (dysphoria)
  • Apathy


Effects of Oxycontin Abuse

The abuse of OxyContin can bring on a number of disturbances in an individual’s life. All areas of functioning, such as personal, financial, social, and occupational, can be deeply affected by the presence of an OxyContin addiction. In addition, an individual’s physical health is put at great risk when abuse continues. Some examples of the many effects that can develop as a result of this issue can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Familial strife
  • Onset of new, or exacerbation of current, symptoms of other mental health conditions
  • Visual disturbances
  • Vital organ damage
  • Disturbances within social relationships
  • Marital discord
  • Injured veins / track marks (in those who inject the drug)
  • Decline in occupational functioning, potentially resulting in job loss and subsequent financial strain

Co-Occurring Disorders

Oxycontin Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

When individuals are battling opioid use disorder, they put themselves at risk for going through a number of symptoms related to other mental illnesses. Some of the many disorders that the APA states often go hand-in-hand with an opioid use disorder can include:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Persistent depressive disorder

Effects of Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of Withdrawal & Overdose From Oxycontin

When an individual ends his or her use of OxyContin abruptly, he or she puts himself or herself at risk for going through withdrawal. During this time, individuals can experience a number of effects that may impact their functioning. Some of the symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Effects of OxyContin overdose: The longer than an OxyContin addiction persists, the more likely an overdose becomes. This occurs because the more that this substance is being abused, the more that the user must increase his or her dosage to obtain the same desired high. This pushes his or her body to the brink, as it is unable to metabolize an over-indulgence of this substance. Overdosing should be treated as a medical emergency. Some of the symptoms of an OxyContin overdose include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sudden sleepiness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Extreme confusion
  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • Severe dizziness
  • Highly slurred speech

Wilmington is an amazing place to receive treatment and go through recovery from this deadly disease of addiction. Honestly, I would probably still be addicted to pills if I'd done anything differently.

– Megan C.
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