OxyContin Withdrawal - Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment
What is OxyContin withdrawal?
OxyContin is a brand name for the opioid pain medication, Oxycodone. It comes in tablet form and is also sold under names such as:
OxyContin is one of the most well-known pain relief brands, often prescribed to treat pain ranging from moderate to severe. OxyContin has a high risk of drug abuse, dependence, and addiction due to the way it affects the nervous system, even when taken as prescribed.
The drug has also found recent popularity in popular culture, with many using it as a recreational due to the euphoric effects it produces. Street names include:
Why do people experience symptoms of withdrawal and what are the dangers?
OxyContin functions similarly to other prescription opioids by binding with neurochemical transmitters in the central nervous system that inhibit pain signal transmission. It attaches to the brain’s receptors in the same way that natural endorphins do, such as those responsible for feelings of euphoria. With constant and repeated exposure, the brain will fairly quickly adapt to this increased endorphin production by increasing the number of endorphin receptors. This is potentially dangerous tolerance and subsequent psychological and physical dependence.
When our endorphin levels drop, feelings of depression, pain, and physical cravings occur. The natural balance of receptors and endorphins is left unequal. These neurochemical changes are the central physiological cause of addiction.
Many individuals are prescribed strong medications like OxyContin for simple procedures such as wisdom teeth removal or minor surgeries. Often, OxyContin prescriptions are refilled without a full medical exam or overprescribed to save patients a trip back to the doctor’s office. This can lead to extra OxyContin pills being given to a patient’s friends and family or lead to their sale on the streets. Sadly, this contributes to the increasing number of individuals suffering from opioid dependency in the US.
This poorly regulated system is contributor to individuals becoming addicted to OxyContin. Those abusing OxyContin need to be aware that many fraudulent street pills have been cut and laced with the much stronger fentanyl (an opioid drug that is 40-50 times more potent than pharmaceutical-grade heroin) to ensure users stay addicted and develop an even higher tolerance, thus feeling the need to buy more.
Risks of OxyContin withdrawal Treatment – effects on patient health and what to expect
OxyContin affects the neurons in the brain. The opioid receptors in the brain are what OxyContin and other types of opioids bind to, which gives the substance its sought-after, euphoric effect.
When OxyContin is abused, the body becomes accustomed to the surplus of endorphins in the system. The body is then forced to adjust how nerve and brain signaling occur. It is important to note that when there is a drop in dopamine, especially the kind of drop that would result from stopping OxyContin cold turkey, the consequences can be devastating.
Physical symptoms of OxyContin detox
OxyContin withdrawal signs and symptoms are vast and can be harmful when not under clinical care and with proper supervision from medical professionals. Enhanced pain is a common symptom, as many addicts started taking the medication due to an injury or chronic pain.
Physical symptoms can include:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- A decline in brain health
- Exacerbation of heart disease
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heart rate
- Blood pressure changes
- Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
- Reduced energy, difficulty breathing, and unconsciousness
- Flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, sweating, muscle limpness, and drowsiness
Psychological symptoms of OxyContin detox
Psychological effects such as insomnia are also common. As a result of abusing OxyContin, individuals may have experienced a loss of relationships or employment. Only when the individual is in withdrawal, do they begin to realize the impact of these losses, often leading to a sense of guilt and self-resentment. Consequently, relapse becomes a very real danger for people in this position.
OxyContin’s long-term use has complex and long-lasting impacts on the brain. When the individual stops taking OxyContin, the central nervous system is suddenly forced to change how it sends neurotransmitter signals.
This can result in the following psychological symptoms:
An individual must be under medical care during this withdrawal period to ensure safety. At ANR, we offer medical treatment for opioid substance addiction that bypasses the withdrawal process altogether, allowing patients a full recovery in just a few days.
OxyContin withdrawal timeline – duration and recovery
One of the factors causing OxyContin to be highly sought after is the long-acting release that allows it to affect the body over several hours. As a result, the road to recovery from withdrawal lasts longer than it is from opiates such as heroin, which is short-acting.
Although the OxyContin detox timeline varies, it is most common to see initial symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after its last use. Lingering withdrawal effects have been reported for as long as six months after stopping. Within this period of time, people experience powerful desires for OxyContin, and the likelihood of relapse is high.
Known factors that contribute to the duration and intensity of OxyContin and opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- How slowly the drug has been tapered off.
- The overall health of an individual and their body metrics (body weight, height, medical history).
- Other medications a person is, or was, taking.
- Medical detox treatment options a person chooses (if any).
- Physical exercise and exertion.
- The following is an example of what someone may experience during active Oxycontin withdrawal.
12-48 Hours After Last Dose
Those attempting to quit the drug will likely feel symptoms within 12 48 hours of their last dose. symptoms mostly physical. Nausea, vomiting, appetite suppression, and flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, fever, and headache can all be expected.
This is typically where acute withdrawal syndrome will begin such as muscle aches, cramps, shaking, vomiting, nausea, and anxiety can all be expected.
Around a week after the patient’s last dose, they can expect most physical symptoms to diminish. However, psychological symptoms are known to persist. Anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, and guilt are all common symptoms during this stage. While these symptoms may be temporary for some, for others, they can lead to or exacerbate wider mental health issues and land patients with long-term mental illnesses like bipolar disorder.
Several weeks after quitting OxyContin, physiological symptoms such as nausea and cravings can still occur.
Can OxyContin withdrawal be treated safely without long-term regimen?
Unlike traditional outpatient and inpatient detox treatments, the ANR method targets the mechanism behind dependency, attacking the issue at its core. This means patients can return to normal, healthy daily life without chronic pain or fear of relapse. ANR is the only form of medical treatment that has been shown to re-regulate the critical endorphin-receptor imbalance found in those with opioid use disorder. ANR is much faster than long-term recovery treatments and negates the risk of overdose that can result from medically-assisted treatments like methadone replacement therapy.
ANR Clinic has health care facilities to provide the medication-assisted detox process in:
- DeSoto Memorial Hospital, Arcadia, Florida
- ANR Europe Thun, Switzerland
- New Vision University Hospital, Tbilisi, Georgia
There are many warning signs that a person can use to identify opiate addiction. To learn more about addiction, withdrawal, and various other health topics relating to opioid substances, visit the ANR website.
Yes, at the ANR Clinic, we offer an addiction treatment program at a local treatment facility for all opiates, including OxyContin, as well as substances like kratom. If you or one of your loved ones is addicted to OxyContin, you should seek immediate advice, diagnosis, treatment, or consider an ongoing program like narcotics anonymous to facilitate sober living. Prescription drug addiction will require a detox program, rehab program, and reduce cravings and dependency, just like alcohol detox.
OxyContin is illegal to obtain and use unless prescribed by a physician. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that it is difficult to acquire off the street. With many physicians prescribing an over-abundance of the drug to their patients, there is often a surplus of it available on the black market.
For additional information related to opioid drugs and their effects, see the ANR website, or ask a medical professional or care provider to provide medical advice.