OxyContin Detox and Withdrawal
OxyContin is an oxycodone-based opioid prescription medication designed to release slowly into the bloodstream to treat people with moderate to severe chronic pain. People who take OxyContin, even as prescribed, can develop a physical dependence on this drug.
Detoxing from opioids can be challenging without help. Fortunately, treatment in the form of medical detox can ease the process. This article will cover withdrawal symptoms, risks, and how to find treatment for opioid dependence and addiction.
Detoxing from OxyContin
When a person has become physically dependent on prescription opioids like OxyContin, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to lower their dose or stop taking the drug.
OxyContin withdrawal symptoms typically come in two phases. Early OxyContin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches and joint pain.
- Nervousness or irritability.
- Tearing or watery eyes.
- Runny nose.
Late withdrawal symptoms include:
- Diarrhea and intestinal issues.
- Enlarged pupils.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Stomach cramps.
- Rapid heart rate.
Withdrawal symptoms can range in intensity, depending on various factors. These include:
- How long the person has taken the drug.
- Their personal history with substance abuse.
- The presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions or physical issues.
- How large their regular dose was.
While generally not life-threatening, withdrawal from OxyContin can be very uncomfortable. Supervised medical detox is always recommended to ensure patients go through this process as safely and comfortably as possible.
OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline
The amount of time it takes to detox from OxyContin varies, but withdrawal symptoms generally appear within 24 hours of the last use and take up to 10 days to resolve.
Some individuals can experience long-term withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings and emotional effects (e.g., depression and anxiety). These long-term symptoms can last for months.
Risk of OxyContin Overdose
One of the greatest risks associated with detox from opioids is the potential for an accidental overdose.
Since withdrawal symptoms can be so uncomfortable, people are more likely to relapse as they try to compensate for the reduced amount of narcotic in their body.
The risk of relapse and accidental overdose increases when individuals attempt to detox at home without medical support.
- Pinpoint pupils.
- Difficulty breathing.
According to the World Health Organization, fatal opioid overdoses are common because breathing is likely to stop. The CDC notes that between 2000 and 2014, close to a half-million U.S. citizens died from opioid overdoses, including OxyContin overdose.
The Use of Medications in Opiate Detox
Doctors may use medications to ease the opiate withdrawal process. Generally, a patient is switched to a replacement medication, and then their dosages are slowly tapered over time, until the person is eventually drug-free.
Medications are not always used in opiate detox, but they can be helpful in some cases of long-term opiate abuse. These medications include:
This partial opioid agonist was approved by the FDA as a prescription to help treat opioid addictions in 2002. Unlike methadone treatment, which often requires daily visits to clinics, buprenorphine can be prescribed by a physician.
The drug binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain as OxyContin, blocking the brain’s absorption of the opioid painkiller, while also easing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
This medication is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
Naloxone by itself is currently used to stop opioid overdoses in an emergency, since the medication binds to opioid receptors in the brain to prevent the uptake of opioids.
When Suboxone is taken as prescribed, the buprenorphine in it acts on the brain to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms; however, if the patient attempts to abuse their prescription and bypass the slow release of buprenorphine to get high, naloxone will instead stop any of the buprenorphine from being absorbed, thus sending the patient into withdrawal.
This medication is rarely prescribed in the course of opioid addiction treatment; however, for people who have struggled with an opioid addiction for a long time, it can help reduce the potential for relapse.
Naltrexone was designed to bind to opioid receptors in the brain and stop the uptake of any opioid drugs, like OxyContin, if the individual relapses. The goal is to train the risk/reward system in the brain to stop craving opioid medications because they prove useless if the person takes them.
While some patients may remain on these medications for months or even years, the ultimate goal is usually complete sobriety from all opiates.
Sometimes, an overseeing doctor will prescribe small doses of antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, which can help ease the psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
Treatment medications can be helpful in the detox and recovery process, especially when used in combination with therapy and counseling. But for sustained recovery, patients need to address the underlying thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that led to substance use.
An evidence-based rehab program can help teach these skills.
At Recovery First Treatment Center in Hollywood, Florida, we offer multiple types of rehab services for drug and alcohol addiction. These include: