You don’t have to misuse a drug like OxyContin to experience withdrawal symptoms. If you take the drug regularly, even if you take it as prescribed and for a serious, underlying health issue, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can appear much sooner than expected, and you don’t have to stop taking the drug cold-turkey for them to begin.
The LA Times explains, “The drug wears off hours early in many people…When it doesn’t last, patients can experience excruciating symptoms of withdrawal, including an intense craving for the drug.”
Withdrawal symptoms can occur in the middle of regular, doctor-approved use. They can occur not long after taking OxyContin for medical or recreational purposes.
Any time withdrawal symptoms appear, addiction is a risk. Withdrawal symptoms indicate that the mind and body are already dependent on the drug.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shares, “With repeated administration of opioid drugs (prescription or heroin), the production of endogenous opioids is inhibited, which accounts in part for the discomfort that ensues when the drugs are discontinued (i.e., withdrawal).”
This means that the body stops producing as many or any natural painkillers and pleasure chemicals. When OxyContin begins to wear off, the body has to readjust to functioning without the drug. It can’t do so immediately. As it readjusts, individuals experience a variety of uncomfortable or painful symptoms. This is withdrawal. Withdrawal is temporary, but it can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. The first is that its associated discomfort can drive people back to the drug.
Addiction has many causes. Withdrawal is just one factor, but it can be a powerful one.
LA Times explains, “When there are gaps in the effect of a narcotic like OxyContin, patients can suffer body aches, nausea, anxiety and other symptoms of withdrawal. When the agony is relieved by the next dose, it creates a cycle of pain and euphoria that fosters addiction.”
Individuals may not even realize their discomfort is the result of withdrawal. They may believe it is a result of their underlying health concerns and take more of the drug to mask symptoms that are actually caused by the drug. They come to more firmly believe that taking OxyContin is essential and that life without the drug would be miserable. Continuing to use a drug despite experiencing negative consequences is a primary sign of addiction. Denying, ignoring, or minimizing the true effects of a drug on health, life, and wellbeing is another. Life controlled by OxyContin is not better than life without it.
There is no easy answer to OxyContin withdrawal. Some people place false hope in home remedies. Others turn to untested medications and put themselves at risk of overdose, poisoning, or development of new addictions. Still others jump at promises of quick, rapid, or painless detox. Withdrawal doesn’t have to be a harrowing or dangerous experience. However there is no avoiding it altogether. It is the essential first step in addiction recovery. It is also just that, a first step.
NIDA shares that detox is, “most effective when offered within the larger context of a high-quality delivery system that addresses opioid addiction not only with medication but also with behavioral interventions to support treatment participation and progress,…screening and treatment of co-morbid psychiatric diseases, and overdose protection (naloxone).”
A healthy, lasting recovery begins with medically supervised detox services. It continues with the specific supportive and therapeutic practices an individual needs. These range from intensive inpatient programs to routine outpatient therapy sessions.
Life without OxyContin can be healthy, enjoyable, and fulfilling. It can even involve less pain. Alternative, non-addictive, and over-the-counter medications may actually be more effective at managing pain symptoms. Treatment that addresses the whole person may improve both comfort and quality of life.
The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shares, “The presence of a psychiatric disorder such as depression can significantly hinder treatment initiation and limit treatment effectiveness.”
Treatment needs to do more than often a temporary solution with a potentially dangerous medication. Addressing addiction with the help of an integrated treatment provider like Michael’s House means more than support during withdrawal. It means a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of health. It means getting complete, integrated, and individualized care. This care leaves you free from OxyContin’s hold. It also leaves you in better mental and physical health.
 https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2018/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse. “America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 14 May 2014. Web. 4 May 2017.