The generic drug oxycodone has become almost synonymous with the brand name drug OxyContin, which was once the most popular drug in the land, in terms of substance abuse. People could crush these pills for an immediate high delivered through the nose, or they could combine the powdered pills with water and inject the substance into their veins for a different type of sensation. In no time at all, reports of abuse of this drug began sweeping through the country, with news articles describing the horrors families felt when their loved ones lost their lives due to addiction. A reformulated OxyContin pill was designed to change that, as its new structure makes the tablets much more difficult to crush for abusive purposes, but the threat of oxycodone abuse won’t end with these new tablets. After all, oxycodone is included in a wide variety of different painkilling medications, all of which have been associated with very real addictions.
Understanding the Appeal
Oxycodone is a powerful drug in the opiate family, capable of hijacking the brain’s production and distribution of chemicals associated with pleasure. People who take these pills at high levels are transported to a place in which they feel a sense of well-being and comfort that may have previously been denied them. Some people take the pills simply because they want to feel this sensation of bliss, but some people feel addiction sneak up on them due to an underlying pain condition.
Tablets containing oxycodone are typically provided to people experiencing intense pain. As a result, they might be given to people who have been through:
- Dental procedures
- Serious accidents
- Physical altercations
They may need the pills for pain control, but they may enjoy the little taste of pleasure that lurks behind each pill they ingest. In time, they may take the pills in order to experience pleasure, not to deal with a pain issue. In a study of the issue in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that 31 percent of people entering a treatment program for addiction to oxycodone once had a valid prescription for the drug, just demonstrating how common this path to addiction really is.
Whether people take the drug for a pain issue or whether they take the drug specifically for fun, the addiction tends to progress in much the same manner. In the beginning, people are experimenting with the drug, taking it frequently but feeling able to quit. In time, they may feel physically ill without the drug, but they might still be able to think about other priorities. When the addiction sets in, they may have no other hobbies or plans that are more important than the use and abuse of their drug of choice. A progression like this can happen in just months.
Healing the Body
While people can be addicted to oxycodone alone, they might speed up the addiction process if they dabble in other drugs at the same time. They might do so because these other substances enhance the high they can feel or reduce the lows that can hit when the drug isn’t available. But combining drugs can also cause an intense amount of damage to blossoming brain cells, making compulsions harder to control. In a study in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, researchers found that benzodiazepines, alcohol, cocaine and other narcotics were most common, but marijuana and antidepressants could also play a role.
Placing the brain in a thick stew of chemicals like this can result in a sort of blunting. Brain cells become accustomed to the presence of these chemicals, and they become remarkably resistant to the changes the drugs can bring about. In time, these amended cells might function only when the drugs are present, and they might rebel with sensations of discomfort when there are no substances available.
These changes can lock people into a cycle of addiction, as they might feel the need for drugs in order to avoid discomfort, but it can also make recovery difficult. When people try to get sober, they may feel just awful, as though they’re living through the worst case of flu possible. They may also be hit with deep cravings for drugs as sobriety approaches. The symptoms tend to last for only a few days, but they can be hard to get through.
A detox program is designed to allow this process to pass by without serious discomfort. Medications may be used to soothe physical distress, while therapies allow people to understand that their symptoms are transient and that they won’t result in death.
When the detox process is complete, people might feel victorious, as they’re experiencing sobriety for the first time since the addiction process began. Unfortunately, this sense of accomplishment can quickly fade away into nothingness if people don’t get addiction therapy. All of the little habits and preferences that once led to the oxycodone abuse issue are still in play unless therapy takes hold, and a person might quickly fall back into bad habits without help. Addiction treatment programs are designed to help people really understand how their addiction came about, so they can build up the skills they’ll need to keep the problem from coming back.
There are a number of different therapies that might be helpful in the fight against an oxycodone abuse issue, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Family therapy
- Contingency management
- Relapse prevention therapy
People with longstanding pain problems might also benefit from targeted therapies that help to ameliorate their discomfort, according to a study in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports. The idea here is to use exercise, behavioral therapy and medication to help keep pain under control, so people won’t have a recurring prompt for oxycodone use and abuse. With this therapy, they’ll just feel better, and as a result, they won’t feel so tempted to dip back into the pills that brought them so much grief.
Recovering from an addiction like this isn’t easy, especially because medications containing oxycodone seem to be available almost everywhere. Each time the person turns around, someone could be standing there with a bundle of pills that could seem so tempting and appealing. Leaning on understanding friends and family members can sometimes help, as people might have a circle of trusted advisors they can turn to when they feel their resolve to stay sober begin to slip.
There’s no shame in stepping away from the home in order to deal with an addiction, however, and some people find that it’s the best way to handle an addiction to a popular drug like oxycodone. In a structured residential program, they’ll have access to help around the clock, and the temptation to use might fade, as the drug of choice simply won’t be available. For some, a stint in a program like this is the best way to begin the healing process.
If you’d like to talk about treatment options for your oxycodone abuse issue, please call us at Black Bear Lodge. We’re located in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, and our facility might provide you with the perfect environment that supports both your growth and your healing. We can help to arrange for transportation to our facility, and we can even prepare some of your admissions paperwork right over the phone. All of the information we’ll take down during our call is confidential, so you won’t need to worry. The help we provide is real, and it could help you to get back on track. Please call us to get started.