The Development of Addiction
Identifying a Problem
Causes of Addiction
Effects of an Addiction
Treatment at Michael’s House
OxyContin addiction is an epidemic that has spread rapidly across the United States over the past decade, affecting every population in every part of the country. Widely prescribed for moderate to severe pain in a number of situations, the time-released deliverance of pain-relieving medication means that patients can take one dose in the morning and enjoy its effects throughout the day. A boon for the medical community and the comfort level of patients, this new form of treatment took off and the number of OxyContin prescriptions written each year skyrocketed.
Crushing the pills before swallowing, snorting or injecting them has become a common method of abuse that has caused a number of health issues and problems among patients with legitimate prescriptions, including overdose and addiction. The rising rates of patient admissions to emergency rooms across the country for issues related to OxyContin abuse and addiction showed that it was not an issue that would go away on its own.
It is important to note that it is possible to safely take a legitimate prescription for OxyContin without developing an addiction. However, it is equally important to note that it is possible to develop an OxyContin addiction without a prescription for the drug. The methods of diversion are many and teenagers – who are rarely given such a strong medication – make up one of the largest groups at risk for the development of prescription painkiller addiction.
At Michael’s House, our counselors are standing by to assist you or your loved one in taking the first steps to break free from OxyContin addiction. We provide an all-inclusive residential opiate addiction treatment program that addresses the physical and psychological nature of prescription drug dependence.
If you would like more information about how we can help you, contact us at Michael’s House for more information today.
OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone hydrochloride, an opioid-based medication available only through a prescription and produced by Purdue Pharma L.P. Because it is dispensed in an extended-release pill, one dose can provide pain relief for as long as 12 hours and due to the ease with which it can be abused, it has been classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Other medications that are similar in chemical makeup and effect include Vicodin, Percocet, Lortab, codeine and morphine. It is important that patients remain vigilant when taking this and similar medications, and take immediate action when the signs of abuse or addiction begin to appear.
The Development of Addiction
There is a definite demarcation between OxyContin abuse and dependence and between physical dependence and a full-blown addiction. Abuse is defined by the non-medical use of OxyContin for any reason and in any amount, with or without a prescription. An abuse problem that requires treatment will be characterized by ongoing negative consequences in day-to-day life due to continued abuse of the painkiller, according to Medline Plus. OxyContin dependence, however, may affect daily life in a negative fashion but its primary characteristic is the patient’s need for a continual supply of the drug in order to function or avoid illness. When this physical dependence is matched with a psychological dependence, or a constant craving and preoccupation with the painkiller, then OxyContin addiction is an issue – and one that requires immediate treatment
Identifying a Problem
- Dry mouth
At-Risk Populations for Addiction
Who is most likely to develop an addiction to OxyContin? Though every population is subject to the development of an addiction to OxyContin because prescriptions are so readily available, some are more likely to go from use to abuse to addiction. These populations include those who have been addicted to any other substances including alcohol, patients with chronic pain related to medical issues or injury, and those who are diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder.
Among opiate-addicted study participants, 35 percent used heroin first and then began abusing OxyContin among other prescription painkillers later while 24 percent first used prescription painkillers and then tried heroin and another 24 percent used prescription painkillers only and 17 percent used nothing but heroin. More and more, patients are abusing prescription painkillers due to ease of access (e.g., leftover prescriptions, over-prescribed pills, fraudulent prescriptions, etc.) and many are ultimately turning to heroin when OxyContin becomes too expensive or too difficult to get in regular and large enough amounts to maintain an active addiction.
Causes of Addiction
There is no one specific reason that OxyContin addiction develops in some patients and not in others. There are, however, a number of reasons that some patients are more susceptible to the development of painkiller dependence than their peers. According to Harvard Medical School, the following may be contributory causes of the development of OxyContin addiction in patients:
- Easy access. Prescriptions are often easy to obtain for OxyContin and those who take it for a brief period may keep their unused pills in the medicine cabinet at home – leaving them readily accessible to teens and anyone else who might consider experimenting with the pills.
- Environmental acceptance. Patients who are surrounded by others who abuse drugs and alcohol may more easily abuse their prescription or take the pills of others.
- Combining OxyContin with other drugs. Those who drink and take pills or use other illicit substances while on OxyContin are at higher risk of developing a dependence.
- Drug and alcohol history. Patients who are already living with drug and alcohol dependence or those who have battled the problem in the past are at higher risk for developing an addiction to OxyContin.
- Co-occurring disorders. Those with mental health issues may be more likely to develop an addiction to the medication if they feel that the pills relieve them of some of the symptoms related to their disorder.
- Genetic predisposition. Patients with immediate family members who have struggled with or are currently living with a dependence upon alcohol and other drugs may be more likely to go from use to abuse to addiction when they take OxyContin regularly.
Effects of an Addiction to OxyContin
OxyContin works by binding to pain receptors in the brain and effectively blocking those receptors from communicating the experience of that pain to the patient. Additionally, the drug triggers a release of chemicals associated with happiness in the pleasure pathway – the process that creates the “high” that is so physically addictive for patients, according to the National Institutes of Health. Over time with continued use of OxyContin, the patient’s brain adjusts according to the expectation that there will be a constant influx of the medication. Chemical release and the ability to regulate pain adjust accordingly, creating a physical dependence upon the drug.
OxyContin also affects other parts of the patient’s life. When psychological dependence becomes an issue, all other areas of life suffer from lack of attention. Patients tend to stop focusing on their healthcare, nutrition, finances, relationships, progress at school or work – even mere attendance is a struggle. The focus turns solely to obtaining more OxyContin and staying under its influence, to the detriment of all else.
Psychological and Physical Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Addiction
Most rehabs start with a medical detox to ensure that safety of the patient as his or her body readjusts to functioning without the painkiller. Immediately following the stabilization of the patient, he or she will enter into psychological addiction treatment characterized by an intense schedule of personal therapy sessions, group therapy, and a range of experiential therapies and holistic treatments. Followed by aftercare services, this process of treatment is the most effective way to combat addiction.
However, the road from active addiction to active recovery isn’t always short. There is often a process defined by a certain development of perspective and attitude. According to a paper published in the American Journal of Addiction, this progression of readiness or motivation can help patients move closer to a mental state that is open to the possibility that treatment holds.
- Lack of awareness that OxyContin is causing an issue. The process starts when the patient is in active addiction and justifying his or her behavior without consideration for the consequences.
- Awareness that OxyContin use is a problem. When the understanding that OxyContin is causing negative effects to them and others, patients begin the active process of moving toward addiction treatment.
- Understanding that rehab can help. Recognizing that there are options and that addiction is treatable means that patients are a step closer to imagining themselves getting the help they need.
- Consideration of what rehab would mean personally. Contemplating what would have to happen in order to enroll in rehab and discussing the steps that would need to be taken is a crucial step in the process of getting from active addiction into rehab.
- Active steps taken to find and enroll in a treatment program. Researching options, calling facilities, emailing for information, talking to insurance companies, discussing financing – all of these are actions that help the patient get the help they need to heal from OxyContin addiction.
Addiction Treatment at Michael’s House
OxyContin abuse is often a problem for patients whose primary drug of choice is another substance entirely, like alcohol or cocaine. In a study published by American Journal of Psychiatry, five percent of participating patients said that they had abused OxyContin and 4.5 percent of those said that they abused the painkiller regularly for at least a year prior to admission to treatment. Additionally, 78 percent of patients who reported OxyContin abuse said that the pills that they used were not prescribed to them and 86 percent said that they specifically abused the drug in order to get “high.”
Michael’s House provides residential rehab treatment for patients who are fighting OxyContin abuse or addiction. Our peaceful estate in Palm Springs, California provides an idyllic locale for recovery.
Contact us today to find out more about your options in prescription drug addiction treatment.