How to Help an Oxycontin Addict
OxyContin is a dangerous drug when not used properly, and it's easy to fall into the trap of addiction. Fortunately, there is help out there for anyone who is addicted to the substance, and it's never been easier to get help.
How to Approach an Addict
Although it seems overwhelming now, your loved one can quit.
Family, friends, and even coworkers can make a huge difference in motivating a person to seek treatment and get sober. Keep in mind that addiction can happen to anyone—it does not discriminate based on age, race, income, culture, or gender. It will also help to understand that addiction is not a moral failure but rather a chronic condition that results in changes in the brain that make quitting extremely difficult without assistance.
When approaching someone who is dealing with addiction, it is important to remain supportive and compassionate. Addiction is complex and often scary; your loved one may want to stop but may not understand how or may be reticent to try treatment. Try to empathize with your loved one's struggle and avoid overcriticizing or blaming. Instead, focus on positive ways to encourage seek help.
Although it seems overwhelming now, your loved one can quit. If your loved one has asked for help, encourage them to see a doctor for an evaluation. If you are having trouble communicating with your addicted friend or family member, you may consider using the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) approach to recovery and treatment . CRAFT uses a trained professional to help you understand and practice how to effectively approach someone about getting into treatment. The CRAFT approach also helps those closest to the addicted individual learn how to provide support while avoiding enabling behaviors. One study found that in almost 7 out of 10 cases, CRAFT successfully helped family and friends influence their loved one to enter a treatment program.
Many addiction treatment programs will begin treatment by medically supervising you as you withdraw (detox) from OxyContin. Detoxification is the process in which your body is cleared of all drugs. This process can be uncomfortable and cause flu-like symptoms. Even though the symptoms of withdrawal are not usually dangerous, withdrawing under medical supervision can help make you more comfortable and minimize the risk of relapse.
When treating an OxyContin addiction, it is extremely important to find an addiction clinic that offers counseling and therapy following detoxification, to help you understand the underlying reasons for your problematic OxyContin use and learn new healthy, sobriety-promoting behaviors.
If you are struggling with a severe addiction or you have attempted to quit in the past and relapsed, you may prefer treatment in an inpatient rehab center. These programs offer 24/7 care and remove you from your triggering environment. If your addiction is not as progressed and you have strong supports as home, outpatient treatment may work well for you. Outpatient programs are generally less expensive but offer a smaller variety of services.
It is important to look for programs, whether inpatient or outpatient, that incorporate counseling and behavioral interventions into their treatment. Whichever you choose, you can find the treatment center that meets your particular needs in recovery.
Having a post-treatment plan is also essential to ensure you take care of yourself and proactively work to prevent relapse. Attending peer support groups, for example, is a useful way for you to build a supportive community and is considered by many to be a key element in maintaining sobriety.
Addiction specialists are a vital part of recovery
Working with an addiction treatment specialist during recovery from OxyContin addiction can provide vital support throughout the treatment process. In fact, opioid death rates for those treated only at a hospital were significantly higher than the rates for those treated in a formal addiction treatment program, according to a 2017 study. Addiction treatment goes beyond medical care into psychological care, skill development, and real-world preparation as a person adjusts to sobriety.
Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Opioid Abusers at Higher Death Risk When Addiction Specialists Not Part of Care. Medline Plus.
Is OxyContin Addictive?
Like all opiates, OxyContin is potentially addictive.
OxyContin attaches itself to the opioid receptors in the brain, preventing GABA from being released. GABA controls the release of dopamine, so restricting it is like opening up a dopamine stop valve. This is important because dopamine provides feelings of pleasure and reward sensations that compel the user to continue taking the drug to recreate those feelings.
OxyContin is a form of oxycodone, but it was originally prescribed because it was supposedly resistant to abuse. That was unfortunately not true, and it became evident that all anyone had to do to abuse the drug was crush it. While the formulation has now been changed, there are a substantial number of people addicted to the drug.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
Am I Addicted to OxyContin?
If any of the above sounds familiar, you may be addicted. If you start suffering from flu-like symptoms when you don't have access to the drug, you may be withdrawing from it, which means you have built up a tolerance to it.
Remember, the main indicator of addiction is the continued compulsive desire to use even when it is causing harm to your health, mental state, relationships and other aspects of your life. If you are unable to stop using even in the face of negative consequences, you may be addicted.
The signs of addiction are varied, but they all boil down to the same thing: You can't stop using the drug no matter how hard you try. It's no longer about controlling the pain; OxyContin abuse or addiction is all about being out of control.
Common signs of addiction to OxyContin include:
- Shopping around and using multiple doctors to get your drugs (doctor shopping).
- Spending a lot of time worrying about running out of the drug.
- Going through your supplies much more quickly than normal.
- Experiencing conflict in your relationships with friends and family over your use.
- Resorting to illegal activity in order to buy the drug.
OxyContin addiction doesn't have to be a life sentence, and you can take the first step to stop it today. It won't matter whether you're an inpatient or an outpatient - just the fact that you're looking at this is a step in the right direction.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Third Edition.
- Meyers, R. J., Smith, J. E., & Lash, D. N. (2005). A program for engaging treatment-refusing substance abusers into treatment: CRAFT. International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy, 1(2). 90-100.