OxyContin Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & When To Get Help

OxyContin, which is the brand name for the prescription medication containing the opioid oxycodone, is a potent and addictive substance.

Understanding OxyContin Addiction

Learn about OxyContin addiction

While OxyContin has a number of benefits and can be safe when taken as prescribed under the close supervision of a certified prescribing physician, the drug has been linked to a dramatic increase in rates of opioid abuse and addiction over recent years.

OxyContin is a medication that is prescribed in pill form and consumed orally. In addition to being able to reduce pain, the drug can also calm anxiety, bring about relaxation, and cause a sense of euphoria to develop. The latter effects make the drug most popular in those who want to obtain a recreational high. In addition to its medical use and its popularity as a recreational substance of abuse, OxyContin is also abused by those who are looking to self-medicate. Regardless of why an individual abuses OxyContin, the misuse of this substance can cause a number of negative consequences, including addiction, permanent physical damage, and death.


OxyContin addiction statistics

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that prescription medications like OxyContin add to nearly 15,000 deaths each year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that nearly five million Americans abuse prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes each year, with OxyContin being among the most commonly abused. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) approximates that almost two million Americans are currently addicted to a painkiller containing opioids, like OxyContin.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for OxyContin addiction

OxyContin abuse and addiction might be impacted by a number of genetic and environmental factors, such as:

Genetic: Possessing a family history of substance abuse can impact the likelihood that an individual will have a chemical dependency problem. If an individual’s parents or siblings have a history of substance abuse, mental illness, and/or addiction, he or she is more vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder. Chronic pain that is hereditary can also increase the risk of developing an OxyContin abuse problem.

Environmental: Children who grow up in homes where OxyContin or other prescription medication abuse is common might view this behavior as acceptable, which can impact his or her risk of developing a substance use disorder in the future. Experiencing trauma, suffering an injury, and being prescribed this medication for pain can add to the development of an OxyContin addiction.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing pain that is treated with OxyContin
  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Trauma
  • Poverty
  • Prior substance abuse, especially at a young age

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of OxyContin addiction

Below are the many symptoms that might indicate that an individual has been abusing or has grown dependent upon OxyContin:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Lying or being otherwise deceptive regarding one’s whereabouts or activities
  • Use of OxyContin when it is clearly dangerous to do so
  • Pattern of unexplained absences from work
  • Significant weight loss
  • Declining performance at work
  • Abuse of OxyContin despite experiencing negative outcomes from prior use

Physical symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Excessive yawning
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Impaired balance, coordination, and reflexes

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired ability to concentrate or focus
  • Poor spatial relations
  • Poor judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Unprovoked anger
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in significant relationships
  • Anxiety
  • Panic

Fortunately, with professional treatment for OxyContin addiction, there is hope for those who are suffering.


Effects of OxyContin addiction

Chronic OxyContin abuse can cause a series of negative outcomes, including:

  • Ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Damage to eyes, heart, and lungs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Financial problems
  • Family discord
  • Academic failure and expulsion
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Physical damage due to reckless behavior and impaired coordination
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Financial devastation

Co-Occurring Disorders

OxyContin addiction and co-occurring disorders

Those who abuse or who have become addicted to OxyContin might also be at greater risk for numerous co-occurring mental health disorders, including the following:

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

Withdrawal and Overdose

OxyContin withdrawal and overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal: Those who have become dependent on OxyContin are likely to experience one or more of the following symptoms of withdrawal when they stop or decrease their use of this substance:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle spasms
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Powerful cravings for OxyContin or another opioid
  • Shaking hands

Effects of OxyContin overdose: An individual who experiences the symptoms below after consuming OxyContin might have overdosed and should obtain immediate medical attention:

  • Shallow heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unconsciousness
  • Pupillary dilation or constriction
  • Bluish tint near lips and/or fingertips
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
What our clients are saying

I decided to seek help for my OxyContin at Huntington Creek because I heard that they are one of the best addiction treatment centers in my area. Thanks to the caring staff there, I am now 2 years sober!

– Former Patient
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