Oxycontin Addiction and Treatment Options

Oxycontin Addiction

Oxycontin is a potent opioid medication used for the treatment of chronic pain. OxyContin is the extended-release version of oxycodone, which is the main ingredient in other narcotics, including Percocet.

What is OxyContin?

OyxContin is a potent, semi-synthetic opioid drug that is used to treat moderate to severe pain associated with cancer, arthritis and traumatic injuries. Because OxyContin can produce a euphoric feeling similar to the high experienced by heroin, it is highly addictive. OyxContin is classified as a Schedule II drug, along with cocaine and methamphetamine. This indicates that there is a substantial risk of abuse and dependence.

Because oxycodone is a complete opioid agonist, it functions by attaching to the mu opioid receptors in your body and brain. These receptors are primarily in charge of regulating pain, euphoria, sedation and respiratory depression (slowed breathing).

Facts on Oxycontin

  • OxyContin is a semi-synthetic opiate medication created from thebaine, an alkaloid found within the opium poppy.
  • OxyContin is about twice as potent than morphine.
  • Many users assume that taking oxycodone is safer than illegal street drugs like heroin.
  • More Americans die each year from overdosing on prescription opioid painkiller medications than from heroin.
  • Oxycodone abuse stats show that OxyContin is listed as one of the most commonly overdosed opiate drugs.
  • If a user crushes oxycontin pills to snort or inject, the risk of accidental overdose increases.
  • The withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin are identical to heroin but because oxycodone has a much longer half-life, the symptoms are actually longer.

Oxycontin Addiction

Using oxycodone over a long period of time will most likely result in physical dependence. Withdrawal is one of many negative consequences of using the drug. It’s important to be aware that oxyContin is an extended-release medication, meaning the opioid is released gradually into your body, increasing the possibility of overdose and death.

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), from 2019-2020:

  • 3.2 million people over the age of 12 abused oxycodone medications, including OxyContin
  • 2.3 million people had a prescription opioid use problem

Narcotic drugs like OxyContin are categorised as Schedule II controlled substances. These medications can only be legally obtained with a doctor’s prescription. In addition, the federal government has begun to closely regulate the distribution of narcotic drugs due to the widespread problems with their consumption, known as the opioid crisis. Despite the increased focus on this drug class, opiate abuse is still a serious concern and continues to destroy the lives of millions of people.

Opioid use disorder (OUD) consists of an overwhelming desire to use opioids, increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. OUD includes dependence and addiction with addiction being the most severe form of the disorder.

Oxycontin Withdrawal

The withdrawal from medications like OxyContin is not considered to be medically dangerous, but the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and will typically lead to relapse.

Opioid withdrawal has been described as feeling like a combination of a severe flu, anxiety, extremely low mood, and gastroenteritis, all at the same time.

Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Increased heart rate & blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Suicidal thoughts

OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline

OxyContin creates long-acting  effects and the withdrawal symptoms typically begin 2-4 days after the last dose, peaking in severity after 3-4 days. The main symptoms will subside in about 2 weeks but things like depression, insomnia and pain can be experienced for several weeks or months.

Treatment for Oxycontin Addiction

Prior to treatment, it’s crucial to have a proper assessment to evaluate the full physical, psychological and emotional impacts as well as one’s social and living situation and a full cognitive evaluation to determine the individual’s ability to engage in the treatment program. This assessment will help the treatment centre to design an individualised program plan to specifically address their issues as well as treat any co-occurring mental health disorders.


Medically supervised detox is required for effective opiate addiction treatment. Detox is a process that helps the body return to a medically stable state while managing withdrawal symptoms in a safe and supportive setting. Detox is only the first step in addiction recovery and it helps prepare you for addiction treatment.

It’s important that detox is not used as a replacement for long-term treatment at an inpatient treatment centre where people continue their recovery to address the underlying issues that led to and contributed to the addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Effective detox usually includes using a form of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) such as Buprenorphine or Methadone which reduce or eliminate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Behavioural Therapy

A major component of any effective recovery program is behavioural therapy. One of the most commonly used is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which involves identifying the reasons for using the drug and how one’s beliefs have impacted use and led to addictive behaviours. The therapist aims to develop a plan to address these issues, change behaviours and teach coping skills to promote recovery.

CBT is used in relapse prevention programs and to address other issues including anxiety, depression, personality disorders, etc and can be delivered by way of individual or group sessions.

Inpatient Residential Treatment

During residential or inpatient treatment, you stay onsite for the duration of treatment which typically ranges from 28 to 90 days. You receive around-the-clock care and support and participate in different therapies. It can be a beneficial option for people who prefer or require a high level of support, such as those with severe addictions or those without supportive home environments.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment involves living at home or at a sober living facility and engaging in counselling sessions for a certain number of hours per week. Outpatient is a good option for people after inpatient treatment and for those with supportive living environments.

Co-occurring Disorder Treatment

People diagnosed with any form of substance use disorder often have mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or trauma. Trying to treat only one condition is not effective and will not lead to success in recovery. These co-occurring disorders need to be treated concurrently.

If you or someone you love are struggling with oxycontin addiction, please reach out to The Hills inpatient treatment centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They offer medically supervised detox at their onsite hospital and a robust inpatient treatment program to address your issues and help put you on the path to recovery. To learn more about the program and why  going to Thailand for treatment can be so successful, give them a call today.

The Hills Rehab

Dr. Sutthipan Takkapaijit

Dr. Sutthipan Takkapaijit

Clinical Psychiatrist

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