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How To Recover From Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Abusing oxycodone (OxyContin) can lead to addiction and other serious health problems. Recovery from oxycodone addiction is possible with treatment. This may involve treatment within an inpatient program as well as aftercare.

Oxycodone (OxyContin) is a powerful drug capable of treating intense pain. Oxycodone is most often prescribed for acute pain following a severe injury, surgery, or dental procedure.

In some cases, doctors may prescribe oxycodone for patients with chronic pain who are unable to take other medications. Although this can be effective for some, chronic use of oxycodone does not come without its risks.

One of the primary risks of taking oxycodone for an extended amount of time is developing tolerance. Tolerance occurs when your body has adapted to the effects of the drug, leading to decreased effects. This requires a person to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects.

Taking oxycodone in any way other than prescribed can be dangerous. Increasing your dose without your prescriber’s approval, or taking it more often, is a sign of drug misuse. People who continue misusing oxycodone are at higher risk for dependence and addiction.

Those who develop an addiction may be unable to quit alone. If you or somebody you know is struggling with oxycodone addiction, treatment is available.

What Makes Oxycodone Addictive?

Misusing oxycodone can lead to both physical and psychological addiction. This is due to its effects on certain systems in the body, as well as your brain. One of the most important chemicals linked to oxycodone addiction is dopamine.

Dopamine is a brain chemical linked to the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. Similar to drugs like marijuana and heroin, oxycodone increases dopamine levels. This can have an impact on mood, and reinforce continued use of the drug. Taking high doses of oxycodone can also have addictive effects, including an intense rush of pleasure and relaxation.

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Taking oxycodone in large or frequent doses for a prolonged period can make it more difficult for a person to stop. Being unable to reduce or stop taking a drug on your own is a primary sign of addiction.

Experiencing addiction yourself or seeing it in someone you know can be frightening. Serious health risks such as overdose and respiratory depression are major concerns with oxycodone abuse. In severe cases, these health risks can be life-threatening.

Oxycodone Addiction Recovery

Oxycodone addiction is a complex problem that can be challenging to face without the right support. Treatment for drug addiction can be most effective when it is personalized to meet each person’s needs.

The first step in oxycodone addiction recovery is to stop using the drug. This requires a process known as detoxification, or detox. Oxycodone detox can be distressing and potentially dangerous to undergo alone. Medical detox programs are often recommended to ease distressful symptoms and reduce a person’s risk for relapse.

Medically Assisted Detox Programs

Medically assisted detox programs are an effective way to remove oxycodone from a person’s system. Physical drug dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms within hours after the last use. These symptoms can be physical, mental, and psychological.

The most common symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:

  • drowsiness
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • trouble sleeping
  • muscle and bone pain
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • strong drug cravings

Medically assisted detox is the safest way to undergo oxycodone withdrawal. Detox programs offer 24/7 medical supervision and can treat discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox also reduces the risk of becoming severely dehydrated as a result of symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment For Oxycodone Addiction

After completing a detox program, additional treatment within an inpatient facility is often recommended. This may be necessary to address the causes of a person’s addiction and any health consequences caused by their drug abuse.

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment programs can be effective for overcoming the most difficult aspects of addiction in early recovery. These programs typically last between 30 and 90 days. Longer stays may also be available depending on the facility.

Inpatient rehab programs provide a supportive and structured environment for treating the physical, mental, and psychological aspects of addiction. The most effective treatment for oxycodone addiction involves the use of certain medications combined with behavioral therapy. This is known as medication-assisted treatment, or MAT

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), medication-assisted treatment:

  • reduces risk for relapse
  • decreases opioid-related overdose deaths
  • improves ability to socialize with others in a healthy way
  • decreases criminal activity

Behavioral therapy may be offered within inpatient programs and on outpatient basis. This includes individual counseling, as well as group therapy. Family counseling may also be important for addressing problems within the home or other relationship problems.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment, also known as aftercare, can be important for long-term recovery. After inpatient treatment, outpatient care can be helpful for transitioning back into a normal routine. People may often continue outpatient treatment for some time to keep them on track in their recovery process.

Outpatient treatment can involve several components, depending on the needs of each person:

  • Outpatient Counseling: Individual therapy can provide accountability for people recovering from oxycodone addiction. It can also help patients continue managing drug urges and learn coping skills for dealing with triggers.
  • Support Groups: Several support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), have locations nationwide for people recovering from substance addiction. These groups can help people build a support network and connect with others facing similar struggles.
  • Sober Living: Sober living housing provides a safe and substance-free environment for people to continue working on their recovery journeys. Sober living communities may require residents to get or maintain a job, attend support groups, and remain sober during their stay.

Outpatient treatment may also include appointments with a nutritionist, medical doctor, and psychiatrist as needed.

Life After Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process that gets easier with time and by having the right support. Attending therapy, support groups, and other aftercare deemed appropriate by your treatment team can help keep people on track in their recovery process.

While the recovery journey can look different for each person, how it begins is just the same: reaching out for help. Everything after will depend on your treatment needs and your personal motivation to remain oxycodone-free.

If you or somebody you know is struggling with oxycodone addiction, don’t wait to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options for oxycodone addiction and treatment.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Prescription Opioids

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction

Center for Substance Abuse Research - Oxycodone

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