OxyContin is one of the more widely used prescription medications for chronic and difficult pain. Unfortunately, it is also highly addictive, which is we’re hearing more and more about opioid addiction in the U.S.
Opioid abuse and addiction can happen to anyone. Men, women, teenagers… in city centers, in the suburbs, and across rural areas. The statistics are OxyContin abuse and addiction are staggering, which is why it is important to understand why it’s happening and what can be done to stem the tragic tide.
More Prescriptions, More Options
A strong narcotic medication for pain management, OxyContin has only been on the market since 1995. Sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014,without an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report.1
Most who get it, have a prescription — whether legally obtained or not — or they get it from friends and family members for free. Others buy OxyContin or their opioid of choice from friends or relatives who have prescriptions, which, by the way, is a felony. More serious opioid abusers buy the drugs from a dealer.1
A Slippery Slope
When a person begins using OxyContin — even with a legal and needed prescription for pain related to chronic back pain, recovering from surgery, or any other lingering and debilitating type of pain — not many fully understand just how addictive it is. OxyContin are designed to chemically interact with receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain. The longer you take the drug, the more of it you will need to achieve the same effect you had when you first took it. This is the slippery slope toward addiction. In fact, a recent CDC study concluded that opioid dependency begins within a few days of initial use. Among people in the study who had been given a month-long prescription, the rate of addiction was 30 percent.3
It’s no wonder that 15 years down the road, a Blue Cross Blue Shield analysis of its members found from 2010 to 2016, found the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids — including both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs — climbed 493 percent.2
Professional Help in Crisis
While some OxyContin-dependents — like other opioid-dependents — may try to wean themselves off the drugs, they typically cannot start or maintain sobriety without professional help. Going ‘cold turkey’ is a grim, and largely unsuccessful, choice. The effects of the drug are simply too powerful to overcome without professional help.
The good news is that, as painkiller abuse has exploded into a full-blown crisis, the drug treatment community has grown more efficient and effective at treating not only the symptoms of addiction, but also the root causes of it. There are more treatment options, more specialized programs and more ways to pay for the help you or your loved one needs to live free of OxyContin.
You Know Someone
There was a time when drug abuse and addiction was mostly associated with illicit drugs like heroin or meth. But that day has come and gone. Today, opioid addiction is making all the headlines, with tens of thousands dying each year due to overdose. Give it five seconds of thought, and you’ll likely think of someone you know who has been impacted by addiction to opioids like OxyContin. High schoolers and college kids are using it. Women are especially vulnerable as they are prescribed opioids more often and become addicted faster than men. It may be in your medicine cabinet right now.
Knowing the truth about OxyContin addiction and treatment options may mean the difference between life and becoming another opioid statistic.
1 “Opioid Overdose: Prescribing Data.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2017.
2 Kounang, Nadia. “Opioid Addiction Rates Continue to Skyrocket.” CNN. 8 August 2017.
3 Wapner, Jessica. “CDC Finds Opioid Dependency Begins Within A Few Days of Initial Use.” Newsweek. 22 March 2017.