Oxycodone is an opioid prescription painkiller for those with moderate to severe pain. It acts on the body’s natural opioid receptors, which makes it a very important drug for pain management. It exists in different forms, including OxyContin, Percocet, and Percodan, each with slightly different formulations. Unfortunately, the drug has a high potential for abuse because it often leaves people feeling euphoric. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), over 16 million people in this country abused the drug in 2012.
Getting Help for Oxycodone Addiction
With the relatively high availability of the substance and the large number of people abusing it, oxycodone addiction has become quite common. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatment options for someone abusing oxycodone. The options include treatments like:
- Medical intervention, including detox and maintenance treatment options
- Behavioral therapy, including contingency management and incentives
- Family education and support
- 12 step programs
How to Speak to Someone Who Is Addicted to Oxycodone
When people abuse oxycodone, the effects are very powerful. People tend to feel dizzy, weak, and uncomfortable in their stomach. Once they reach a high, they are no longer coherent or receptive. Hence, this is not the time to speak to them. It is always best to educate yourself on the effects of Oxycodone first, so you understand both the physical and psychological dependence that people experience.
When you talk to them, you will need to be able to be more emphatic to their needs. Never become aggressive or frustrated with them, as this will only cause them to withdraw. You may also want to consider to take part in Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) first, so that you can learn about how to stage an intervention (and get help from an interventionist if needed), further build your understanding of addiction, and learn about the support networks that exist – for both the addicted individual and yourself. According to research by Meyers, Smith, & Lash in 2005, those who have had an intervention under the CRAFT model would attend rehab in 70% of cases.
What matters most is that you are supportive, understanding, and empathic to the needs of the individual. They need to know that you are there for them, and will continue to be there throughout their journey, even if they relapse. Relapse rates are high with all drugs, so you must be prepared for this.
Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction
There are different types of Oxycodone treatment options out there. The one that is right for you will depend on how much you use, how long you have used it, and how often you use. It is always best to end Oxycodone use while being under the care of a medical professional, so that you get the right care. This care is likely to start with a period of detox. During this time, you will be weaned off the drug Oxycodone while under medical supervision. You may, once you are completely off the drug, be transferred to a maintenance or stabilizing medication instead, such as Subutex, Suboxone, or methadone. This will be done in a controlled way so that you do not experience full withdrawal, while at the same time reducing your cravings.
After detox period, the recommended treatment option for Oxycodone is to go to an inpatient facility. While outpatient options also exist, they are often less effective with this type of drug. Whichever of the two you choose, however, you should receive:
- Medication management so that you experience fewer cravings and can also deal with any mental health problems you may have
- Behavior therapy to help you identify your triggers and put strategies in place to respond differently to them. Incentive programs are commonly used for this.
- Education and family therapy, so that your support network can help you with your recovery
- 12 step programs, in which you will build fellowship and community with like-minded individuals.
How Addictive Is Oxycodone?
Every opioid has the potential to be addictive. This is because opioids attach themselves to the brain’s tiny molecular structures, known as opioid receptors. This cascades the release of dopamine, one of the body’s reward and pleasure hormones. As a result, people feel less pain and physical tension, increased relaxation, and euphoria.
One of the biggest issues is that the brain’s reward system is also triggered. This means that, when you use opioids, your brain tells you that it is a good thing. This is what leads people to go back for more. However, tolerance will start to build, which means you will need more of the drug to achieve the same effects.
The majority of people who are addicted to Oxycodone started using the substance with the goal of feeling its euphoric effects. Some become addicted after they were prescribed the substance. Regardless, those who are addicted should notice some signs like:
- Labored or slow breathing
- Lethargy and a lack of motivation and energy
- Tiny pupils
- Being asleep or alert (alternating between the two)
- Coordination problems
These signs will become increasingly noticeable as people use more of the substance. That said, it can be difficult to determine whether you truly are physically and psychologically addicted to Oxycodone. Addiction happens when you know that your drug abuse is negatively impacting your life, but you choose to continue it anyway. Some key signs of addiction, therefore, include:
- Feeling that your relationships are less important than the drugs, having increasingly frequent arguments with loved ones.
- No longer paying sufficient attention to your professional, educational, and/or personal relationships
- No longer looking after your own mental and physical needs
- Spending a lot of time thinking about Oxycodone and how you will get your next hit
- Using more of the drug than your prescription tells you to, or “doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions
- Trying and failing to stop using the drug
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Oxycodone
If you one or some of the above conditions, don’t worry. Remember that help is out there for you.