OxyContin pills were once remarkably easy to abuse. People could simply crush the pills, reducing the contents to a fine powder that could either be inhaled or mixed with liquid and shot into the veins. These steps would allow all of the potency of the drug to hit the user at once, rather than trickling into the body in slow and steady steps as the manufacturers had intended. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new formulation of OxyContin that would be a little more difficult to abuse, as the pills are hard to crush and they turn into sticky goo when they’re mixed with water.
There is some evidence that this new formulation reduced the incidence of abuse. Even so, some people still abuse OxyContin, and they may be following a predictable timeline that leads to addiction.
Typical Addiction Patterns
People who take in OxyContin for the very first time report feeling overwhelmed by the side effects. They may experience intense relaxation, and no pain or discomfort. Chemical changes inside the brain are to blame for these sensations as the active ingredients in OxyContin attaches to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord responsible for pleasure and reward. This can also result in feelings of agitation and loss when sobriety returns. The length of time between the first hit of OxyContin and addiction varies from person to person. Those who snort crushed pills tend to have a more robust reaction and develop addiction more rapidly than those who take the pills orally.
As addiction develops, the body becomes accustomed to the constant presence of OxyContin. Brain cells need the substance in order to function normally, and the person might feel ill when the drug isn’t available. This issue can play a role in the recovery process, as people who attempt to get sober suffer flu-like withdrawal symptoms that last for up to a week. Medications can help to soothe this distress and discomfort due to withdrawal. But not everyone who abuses OxyContin needs this kind of therapy. Some people find that they’re able to get through a week of detox by leaning on:
- Warm soaks to soothe sore muscles
- Bland, soft foods to amend digestive distress
- Cool drinks of water, allowing toxins to leave the body
- Soft, welcoming beds, with frequent sheet changes
In any case, the experience isn’t likely to be positive, but it can pass in relative comfort. In no time at all, people might be ready to examine how the addiction began and what might be done in order to keep it from springing to life in the future. Therapy can make that happen.
People who abuse OxyContin may feel as though the abuse began suddenly. In reality, people who abuse drugs tend to have tiny little triggers that dot each and every day. Strong emotions, terrible memories, interpersonal conflicts and even negative self-talk can lead to desperation that only medication seems capable of healing. Unless the person who struggles changes his or her habits for good, addiction remains in control. Changing habits can be tricky and can take a significant amount of time. As a result, most treatment programs for addiction aren’t measured in terms of days. Instead, they’re measured in months or even years.
In addition, some people who have addictions to OxyContin need to live outside the home in addiction facilities for many months. The drug is just too easy to get in the community, and temptation might be around every corner. Family conflicts and old wounds can also be too painful during recovery, leading people to feel an intense urge to use and abuse OxyContin.
Others in recovery find help through a sober home where people live in a community with others who are also in recovery. All residents agree to keep the home free of drugs and alcohol. The person is in a new environment, so the urge to use might be lessened when fewer temptations are available. Some people choose to live in facilities like this for six months or even longer before they feel capable of returning to their homes without the use of OxyContin.
Finding Help for OxyContin Addiction
This is the kind of care we offer at Black Bear Lodge. Our clients aren’t just numbers to us, and we never try to make our clients conform to a plan that might not be best for them. Instead, we draw up detailed treatment plans before providing any care. We check with our clients at each step of the journey, ensuring that they’re happy with the help they’re getting. It’s a comprehensive approach, and we’d like to tell you more about it. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about options. We are here to help!
1 Goodnough, Abby, and Katie Zezima. ““Drug Is Harder to Abuse, but Users Persevere.” The New York Times. 15 June 2011.
2 Diep, Francie. “How Do You Make A Painkiller Addiction-Proof?” Popular Science. 13 May 2013.
3 “How long does drug addiction treatment usually last?” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Jan. 2018.