Causes & Effects of OxyContin Addiction

Understanding OxyContin Addiction

Learn About OxyContin Addiction & Abuse

OxyContin, the brand name for the prescription medication containing the opioid oxycodone, is a powerful and possibly addictive substance. While OxyContin possesses many benefits and can be safe when taken as directed under the care of a qualified prescribing professional, this drug has also been connected to a dramatic increase in rates of opioid abuse and addiction over recent years.

OxyContin is prescribed in a pill form and is consumed orally. In addition to being able to reduce physical pain, this medication can also calm anxiety, bring about relaxation, and create a sense of euphoria. These effects are what make this medication popular amongst those who are searching for a recreational high. In addition to its legitimate medical use and its popularity as a recreational substance, OxyContin is also abused by those who are looking to self-medicate. Regardless of why an individual uses OxyContin, the misuse of it can lead to a series of negative outcomes, including addiction, irreversible physical damage, and possibly even death.

At Serenity Knolls, we recognize the many ways in which OxyContin abuse and addiction can impact an individual’s inability to live a productive, happy life, which is why we have developed effective programming to treat this form of chemical dependency. With our assistance, women and men who have battled opioid use disorder including OxyContin have become able to put a stop to their use of this substance and live happy, healthy, drug-free lives.


OxyContin Abuse Statistics

Data gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that prescription drugs like OxyContin add to nearly 15,000 deaths per year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that approximately five million Americans use prescription opioids for purposes that are not medical each year, with OxyContin being one of the most commonly abused medications. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that nearly two million Americans are currently addicted to an opioid-based painkiller like OxyContin.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors for OxyContin Abuse

OxyContin abuse and addiction might be impacted by numerous genetic and environmental factors, such as:

Genetic: Having a family history of substance abuse increases one’s chances that he or she will also develop a problem with chemical dependency. If an individual’s siblings or parents have a history of substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental illness, it is more likely that he or she will develop a substance use disorder. Hereditary chronic pain can also increase the risk of developing an OxyContin abuse problem since people with chronic pain may be prescribed OxyContin to manage it.

Environmental: Children who are raised in homes where OxyContin abuse or other prescription medication abuse is common might believe that this is an acceptable behavior, which can add to their risk of developing a substance use disorder. Experiencing trauma, being injured, and being prescribed this medication for pain can also add to the development of an OxyContin addiction.

Risk Factors:

  • Experiencing pain that is treated with prescription OxyContin
  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Poverty
  • Prior substance abuse, especially at a young age
  • Mental illness
  • Trauma

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of OxyContin Abuse

Below are some of the symptoms that might show that an individual has been abusing or has become dependent on OxyContin:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Lying or being otherwise deceptive regarding one’s whereabouts or activities
  • Use of OxyContin when it is clearly dangerous to do so
  • Abuse of OxyContin after experiencing negative outcomes from prior use
  • Significant weight loss
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Pattern of unexplained absences from school or work

Physical symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Numbness to pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Itchiness
  • Impaired balance, coordination, and reflexes
  • Excessive yawning
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Poor judgment
  • Impaired ability to concentrate or focus
  • Poor spatial relations

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Unprovoked anger
  • Loss of interest in significant
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Panic

Lasting Effects

Effects of OxyContin Abuse

Chronic abuse of OxyContin can lead to many negative consequences, including:

  • Ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts
  • Financial problems
  • Family discord
  • Physical damage due to reckless behavior and impaired coordination
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Financial devastation
  • Damage to eyes, heart, and lungs
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Academic failure and expulsion

Co-Occurring Disorders

OxyContin Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who abuse or become addicted to OxyContin might also be at greater risk for numerous co-occurring mental health conditions, such as:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of OxyContin Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal: Individuals who have grown dependent on OxyContin are likely to suffer from one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms when they stop or significantly decrease their use of this substance:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Powerful cravings for OxyContin or another opioid
  • Shaking hands
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Watery eyes

Effects of OxyContin overdose: Someone who experiences the symptoms below after consuming OxyContin might have overdosed and should receive immediate medical attention from a qualified healthcare provider:

  • Shallow heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bluish tint near lips and/or fingertips
  • Cold and/or clammy skin
  • Pupillary dilation or constriction

Fortunately, there is treatment available for those who seek it, and it is possible to end one’s addiction to OxyContin once and for all.

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My OxyContin addiction had begun to consume me. I was in a very dark time in my life. The counselors and staff at Serenity Knolls helped me see there was more to live for and helped me defeat my addiction.

– John B.