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OxyContin Withdrawal

When individuals have become dependent on OxyContin, they should not undertake the process of detox alone. As with all opiates, medical detox – with 24-hour medical supervision – is needed for OxyContin withdrawal. This is to ensure the continued safety of those withdrawing from the drug.

OxyContin abuse and addiction are exceedingly common. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationreports that in 2010, there were 182,748 emergency room visits related to oxycodone – the generic name for the medication. Further, The New York Times states that oxycodone prescriptions in New York rose 82 percent from 2007 to 2010.

OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms

OxyContin withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as five hours after the user has taken the last dose. These symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Backache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Chills
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Hypertension
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yawning
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Flu-like symptoms

If an individual has heavily abused OxyContin, the symptoms may be more intense and last longer than an individual who had only used small amounts of OxyContin for a shorter period of time.

Medical Detox Timeline for OxyContin

For individuals who use smaller doses of OxyContin, a tapering process may be used to wean them off the medication. With this option, the individual’s physician or psychiatrist will prescribe a gradually reduced dose. The tapering will be done over a period of months, so the individual’s withdrawal symptoms will not be severe. This option is not recommended for individuals who use OxyContin heavily or for those who use it to achieve a high. These individuals may not be able to adhere to a strict dosing schedule, and medical detox is required.

Anyone addicted to OxyContin will best benefit from an inpatient treatment program that includes medical detox. During medical detox, individuals will be continuously monitored by medical professionals who may prescribe certain medications to ease certain withdrawal symptoms. While medical detox is the first part of most addiction treatment programs, detox does not serve as treatment on its own. It must be followed by comprehensive addiction treatment that includes therapy.

A common detox treatment option to those who are addicted to OxyContin is medication assistance.

With this option, individuals will be prescribed a course of methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone). While on either of these medications, individuals will experience fewer cravings for OxyContin, as stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

While methadone and buprenorphine work in similar ways, methadone is under tighter regulation than buprenorphine. Medications such as Suboxone can be prescribed and managed by an individual’s physician. Methadone, however, is managed at a specialized clinic, where individuals must attend appointments to obtain the medication. If this kind of maintenance therapy is offered as part of an addiction treatment program, supervising professionals will oversee dosing and distribution of either medication. The use of either methadone or buprenorphine is determined on a case-by-case basis.

If clients are on ongoing maintenance medications, they will progress to the therapeutic portion of treatment while on the medication. There is no medication that treats the underlying causes of addiction. The person must engage in therapy to identify those underlying causes and create strategies to address them in order to prevent a relapse to drug use.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Greenhouse Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More