This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 15th, 2020
Medical treatments for Oxycontin addiction include detox and withdrawal. Detox is a necessary part of treatment inasmuch as it helps bring an end to physical addiction. Moreover, withdrawal is a normal part of the detox. The key for treatment providers is to control withdrawal through medical means in order to ensure both safety and comfort. If you are considering Oxycontin treatment, rest assured that patient health is the number one priority for treatment providers.
A person addicted to Oxycontin has also become both physically and psychologically dependent on the drug. Both his/her body and mind need it just to get through daily life. Should that person reduce the amount of Oxycontin he/she takes, his/her body will begin to manifest withdrawal symptoms fairly quickly. This is normal for addictions of all types. It is also why so many addicts have a hard time beating their addictions.
Withdrawal is a challenging experience regardless of the drug being used. In the case of Oxycontin, withdrawal can produce symptoms ranging from the mild to the moderate and the potentially deadly. Patients undergoing Oxycontin withdrawal are best served by around-the-clock medical attention that can deal with complications. They benefit from nurses and therapists who can help them resist the urge for another dose of Oxycontin.
Oxycontin withdrawal can make it difficult to stop using the drug, especially if you have been on it for a while. The reality is that withdrawal symptoms are not pleasant. Many people who try to withdraw on their own discover that the symptoms they experience send them right back to Oxycontin. This is one of the reasons we recommend detox and withdrawal in a medically supervised setting.
Please understand that Oxycontin withdrawal can be dangerous. It is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms that lead to serious injury, a condition known as Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis, and even death.
Detox and withdrawal are a required part of overcoming an Oxycontin addiction. There is no way to truly be drug-free without fully stopping your drug intake. And there is no way to fully stop without experiencing the effects of detox and withdrawal.
The good news is that professional treatment is accessible. You do not have to go through Oxycontin withdrawal alone, nor should you. A medically supervised withdrawal is the safest and most effective way to get you through. Medical supervision minimises the risks associated with withdrawal and sets you up for successful rehabilitative therapies in the weeks that follow.
This guide will introduce you to the basic principles of Oxycontin withdrawal and detox. If you are ready to undergo treatment now, do not delay any further. Reach out to us so we can refer you to a residential treatment clinic.
Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawing from Oxycontin, as it is with other opiates, will produce withdrawal symptoms. It is unavoidable. Withdrawal symptoms are divided into early and late stage categories for clinical purposes. And while the symptoms of withdrawal are rarely life-threatening themselves, certain complications can arise that put a patient’s life in jeopardy. Those symptoms include:
Causes of Oxycontin Withdrawal
To better understand Oxycontin withdrawal, it is helpful to think of the principle of cause and effect. Simply put, the causes of withdrawal are a direct result of the effect the drug has on the human body. Remember that Oxycontin is a powerful opioid with sedating properties. It affects brain function, muscle function, and even respiration.
By the time a person is addicted to Oxycontin, his or her body has become dependent on the drug to do certain things. Consider the basic principle of managing pain signals. The human body naturally produces endorphins to do just that. Oxycontin stimulates the production of those endorphins by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain and spinal column. More endorphins mean less pain.
The Oxycontin addict is at a disadvantage because his/her body no longer produces enough pain regulating endorphins on its own. It is depending on the drug to stimulate endorphin production. Take that stimulation away and you create a problem that manifests itself in a variety of withdrawal symptoms.
Another good example to illustrate the causes of Oxycontin withdrawal is that of having your smartphone taken away for a while. You are so used to using your phone to check your e-mail, engage on social media, and make online purchases that you feel lost without it. You do not know what to do with yourself until you get your phone back.
A body withdrawing from Oxycontin is in much the same position. It doesn’t know what to do without the drug it has come to depend on. As a result, the body has to make certain adjustments to bring things back under control. This is what causes the symptoms of withdrawal.
Muscle aches occur because there are not enough endorphins to regulate pain signals. Heavy breathing and higher heart rate are the result of the loss of sedation. Nausea and vomiting occur because the gastrointestinal system is attempting to rebalance itself.
Treatment for Oxycontin Withdrawal
Rehab clinics offer a number of different treatments for Oxycontin withdrawal. These consist of a combination of prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, counselling, and strategies for making patients more comfortable. Treatment can be accessed at an outpatient or residential clinic. It can be accessed as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with psychotherapeutic rehab.
Does Oxycontin Withdrawal Work?
The efficacy of Oxycontin withdrawal depends on two things. First is the willingness of the patient to embrace real, genuine change. Those patients who truly want to stop using Oxycontin once and for all tend to be more receptive to detox and withdrawal. Their desire for change does not make withdrawal any easier, but it does make it more profitable in terms of outcome.
In addition, Oxycontin withdrawal works a lot better when it is followed by psychotherapeutic rehab. Although it is possible to permanently stop using Oxycontin after a short detox treatment, doing so is rare. The vast majority of Oxycontin addicts need both detox and rehab in order to attain permanent abstinence.
Withdrawal is a very effective tool for breaking a physical dependence on Oxycontin. In fact, this is the purpose behind detox and withdrawal. Getting the drug out of the system is the impetus for the body healing itself from the damage done. But detox and withdrawal are only good for the body. Something else has to deal with the mind. That is the point behind rehabilitative therapy.
Medications for Oxycontin Withdrawal
Residential clinics make use of various medications during Oxycontin withdrawal. Some of those medications are provided by prescription only, and they are intended to stabilise the patient and address some of the symptoms of withdrawal. Others are OTC medications that can help a patient feel more comfortable.
Here is a partial list of prescription medications rehab clinics use for Oxycontin withdrawal:
This opioid is most often used as a pain medication. It is sometimes used during Oxycontin withdrawal to stabilise the patient before initiating a gradual tapering. Methadone can also be used as a maintenance drug in cases where withdrawal needs to be prolonged.
This is an alternative to methadone with less addictive potential. Doctors who worry about the consequences of administering methadone often turn to buprenorphine instead.
This prescription medication is actually a combination of Oxycontin (oxycodone) and acetaminophen. It can be effective during Oxycontin withdrawal to gradually bring a person off opioids.
Although morphine is addictive as well, it is not nearly as strong as Oxycontin. Some doctors believe it is one of the best alternatives for a substitute-tapering withdrawal strategy.
Anxiety and agitation are both common symptoms of Oxycontin withdrawal. Doctors may use diazepam to control those emotions. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine more than capable of helping to calm the nerves. However, the drug has to be used cautiously as it is also highly addictive.
This antidepressant can be administered if the patient is exhibiting signs of depression or experiencing debilitating feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
This is another antidepressant that may be used instead of Zoloft. It can help withdrawing patients feel better about what they are going through.
Clonidine is a prescription medication normally associated with treating ADHD, hypertension, and anxiety disorders. It can also be effective for relieving the anxiety and agitation associated with Oxycontin withdrawal.
Normally associated with alcohol withdrawal, this drug can be used during Oxycontin withdrawal to control cravings. It works by activating some of the same receptors Oxycontin normally activates.
The over-the-counter drugs used in Oxycontin withdrawal vary as much as the patients who take them.
Here is a very short list of some of the more commonly utilised OTC medications:
Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can be administered to help relieve headaches and muscle aches. Given in moderate doses, they are great at temporarily relieving pain. They also possess helpful anti-inflammatory properties.
It is common for doctors to administer OTC anti-diarrhoeal and anti-nausea medications during Oxycontin withdrawal. This makes patients more comfortable while simultaneously reducing the risk of dehydration.
Patients experiencing itchy skin may be given a topical analgesic to control the itching and reduce inflammation.
In addition to the many medications at a doctor’s disposal, nutritional support may be offered by way of supplemental vitamins and minerals. It is believed by some experts that nutritional support might both ease the discomfort of withdrawal and speed up the process.
Oxycontin Withdrawal Psychosis
As previously mentioned, the risk of complications is always present in a detox and withdrawal scenario. One of the complications associated with Oxycontin withdrawal is a condition known as Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis. It is similar in nature to the psychoses related to withdrawing from most other opioids.
Let us break down Oxycontin withdrawal: it is no doubt uncomfortable, but it is not necessarily life-threatening under the care of trained doctors, nurses, therapists.
In the most general sense, psychosis is a condition in which a person loses touch with reality. It can occur for a lot of different reasons. During drug detox and withdrawal, psychosis often occurs simultaneously with visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. Horror stories of such hallucinations are responsible for a lot of the fear surrounding psychosis. Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis is generally not that severe.
First and foremost, withdrawing from Oxycontin rarely produces hallucinations of any kind. It can produce overwhelming feelings of anxiety, agitation, hopelessness, and despair. That is where Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis comes from. Patients can be so overwhelmed by their emotions that they temporarily lose touch with reality.
Some of the results of Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis are as follows:
Patients temporarily forget they are being treated for Oxycontin addiction
They fail to recognise the doctors and nurses providing treatment
They may try to escape out of fear that something bad is happening to them
Patients may convince themselves they will not survive the ordeal
They may forget who they are, where they are, etc.
They may forget simple things like what day of the week is
Patients may act erratically at times.
The most challenging aspect of Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis for treatment providers is the unpredictable nature of patients. Some patients demonstrate symptoms of psychosis that are easily manageable. Others become very erratic in both thought and action. In rare cases, patients suffering from psychosis can turn violent. Treatment providers have to be on their toes at all times during psychotic episodes.
Fortunately, Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis is not permanent. Episodes tend to be rather short by comparison, and even extended episodes gradually subside as the patient’s emotions stabilise. Permanent damage as a result of Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis is extremely rare.
Do note that people in the throes of psychosis are at a heightened risk of personal injury due to accidents.
Medical Detox from Oxycontin as Part of a Whole Treatment Plan
Oxycontin addiction is a condition that affects the body, mind, and emotions. As such, completely overcoming addiction requires addressing the whole person. Medical detox is just a small part of it. We recommend clients embrace detox as part of a whole treatment plan that includes rehabilitative therapies and aftercare.
A ‘whole’ treatment plan may be described as ‘holistic’ treatment by some rehab clinics. The underlying philosophy of holistic treatment is to treat the body, mind, and spirit. All three have been negatively affected by addiction anyway. Detox addresses the physical aspect; rehabilitative therapies address the psychological and emotional aspects; aftercare ties everything together to prevent relapse.
At this point, it is necessary to recognise that a whole treatment plan is what the addiction treatment community recognises as a comprehensive treatment. It encompasses everything necessary to help a person fully recover from Oxycontin addiction. A comprehensive treatment is holistic by default. Comprehensive treatment is not fast and easy. It takes time.
The medical detox portion of a comprehensive treatment strategy requires the least amount of time. Generally, a couple of weeks is all that is needed to get a person through detox. That will be explained in more detail later on. In the meantime, the most effective detox treatments are followed by several weeks of rehabilitative therapies.
Some treatment providers like to think of detox as a springboard to complete recovery. In other words, a comprehensive treatment plan starts with detox as its foundational first step. From there, patients can transition into psychotherapy and 12-step work. Detox is considered the springboard because, without it, the other treatments will be of little value.
The thing to understand here is that detox, as a stand-alone treatment, is rarely effective for permanently solving an Oxycontin problem. To be truly ‘cured’, as it were, permanent abstinence has to be achieved. But getting to that place is nearly impossible with just detox alone. Detox has to be part of a much more comprehensive treatment if its benefits are to be fully realised.
Oxycontin Addiction Detox
You need to know exactly what it involves so you can make an informed decision about your treatment options. The first thing to note is that you should not attempt to detox on your own. A lot of people try it but doing so is dangerous.
Oxycontin is an immensely powerful opioid with substantial sedating capabilities. A person who has been addicted to the drug for an extended length of time is also a person whose body is incapable of functioning without the drug. Stopping immediately creates an emergency situation that could prove injurious or fatal.
Even if you were to attempt to quit gradually, the withdrawal symptoms produced by detox include cravings you may find too powerful to ignore. You could get a few days into detox only to turn around and go right back to Oxycontin because you cannot deal with the cravings. Repeated cycles of quitting attempts and relapse will only make Oxycontin detox more difficult with every subsequent attempt.
The advantage of professional treatment is that doctors and nurses are on hand to help you deal with those difficult withdrawal symptoms – including cravings. With trained professionals at your side, you will stand a greater chance of getting through withdrawal the first time around. Medical staff will also be there just in case you develop any complications. You will be a lot safer in a medical setting than you would be at home.
The Oxycontin Detox Timeline
As previously mentioned, the withdrawal symptoms associated with Oxycontin detox are divided into two categories: early and late stage. Early-stage withdrawal symptoms begin within a few hours; late stage symptoms start appearing anywhere from 12 to 30 hours after the start of detox.
Here is a general timeline for Oxycontin detox and withdrawal:
Stabilisation – Oxycontin detox begins by stabilising the patient. A doctor may administer a baseline dose of Oxycontin or, as an alternative, another drug like methadone or buprenorphine. This baseline dosage provides a starting point for a gradual withdrawal.
Withdrawal starts – Immediately following stabilisation, the actual withdrawal process begins. The patient doesn’t feel anything at first, but that will change. Nurses monitor the patient for the appearance of early-stage withdrawal symptoms. Their manifestation tells caregivers that things are underway.
Early-stage symptoms begin – Patients typically begin manifesting early-stage withdrawal symptoms about six hours after receiving the baseline dose. In some patients though, it can take up to 12 hours for the symptoms to start. It really depends on the level of dependence you are dealing with.
Late-stage symptoms begin – Somewhere around the 12-hour mark most patients start exhibiting some of the late stage withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can last for a little as a few days or as long as several weeks. Among them are the drug cravings that so many patients find difficult to deal with.
Symptoms peak – From the moment withdrawal symptoms begin, they gradually intensify until eventually peaking somewhere around the 72-hour mark. Some patients peak earlier while others peak later. The length of time peak symptoms persist depends on the level of dependence the patient is dealing with. Peak could last as little as a few hours or as long as several days.
Symptoms subside – Withdrawal symptoms gradually begin to subside at some point after peaking. The further along the patient goes, the more the symptoms start disappearing altogether. Note that some withdrawal symptoms may linger for days or weeks. This is typical of Oxycontin cravings. Some patients report experiencing cravings throughout the entire rehab process.
Detox complete – The average Oxycontin patient completes detox within 10 to 14 days. It may take longer should doctors determine that a more gradual tapering is required. The more gradual the withdrawal, the longer the detox process takes.
Should opiate withdrawal psychosis present itself, it normally occurs while withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. This is the point at which detox is most critical. As long as a patient is under the care of medical professionals, he or she can be managed through this critical stage and on to completion.
Medically-Assisted and Supervised Detox
Medical assistance and supervision throughout Oxycontin detox are necessary to make the process as safe as possible. Medical assistance is defined simply as utilising prescription medications and other medically-based strategies to help the patient get through the detox period. Using methadone or buprenorphine as a substitute drug is an example of medical assistance.
The supervision aspect comes into play as doctors and nurses manage the withdrawal process. Medical supervision ensures patient health by continually monitoring and responding to any complications that arise. It involves doctors, nurses, and therapists in a team effort to direct patient care.
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Oxycontin Detox Protocol
WBoth outpatient and inpatient rehab programmes rely on an established Oxycontin detox protocol to safely treat patients. In a general sense, a protocol is nothing more than a predetermined course of action that clinicians follow as they treat a patient. Where detox is concerned, the protocol has to be somewhat flexible to account for different patient responses.
There are a number of factors that go into determining a viable detox protocol. First is the decision of how gradual withdrawal should be. Modern detox generally relies on a tapering strategy that slowly reduces the amount of medication being administered. There are two options for tapering:
Direct tapering – A direct tapering strategy makes use of the same drug the patient is being treated for. In the case of an Oxycontin patient, doctors would continue using Oxycontin during the tapering process.
Substitute tapering – A substitute tapering strategy either partially or fully substitutes another drug for Oxycontin. You read about some of those other drugs previously. They include methadone and buprenorphine.
Another important Oxycontin detox protocol consideration is stabilisation. Patients must be stabilised before a withdrawal can begin or doctors risk unnecessary complications. The question is this: what is the best method for stabilising this patient in preparation for what is about to come? More often than not, stabilisation is achieved through prescription medication.
With these two factors successfully addressed, a detox protocol then goes on to address:
withdrawal symptom management;
monitoring for complications;
responding to complications; and
making the patient as comfortable as possible
While you might be led to believe that a typical detox protocol does not involve counselling, that is not the case during Oxycontin detox. Because of the way Oxycontin affects the thoughts and emotions, counselling is often necessary to help patients get through the overwhelming emotions associated with Oxycontin withdrawal.
Counselling can help patients remain focused on getting through without giving in to cravings. It can help patients deal with Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis. Counselling also begins preparing the patient for the rehabilitative treatments that will follow detox.
Physical Dependence vs. Addiction
Oxycontin detox protocols have to account for the differences between dependence and addiction. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing from a medical standpoint. A patient’s dependence vs addiction status may influence how treatment is administered.
Physical dependence is a condition in which the body relies on a particular substance in order to perform a normal body function.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter related to the brain’s reward system. When dopamine is produced, it creates feelings of pleasure. It turns out that Oxycontin’s ability to create euphoric feelings is due to its ability to stimulate dopamine production. Oxycontin binds to opioid receptors that then signal the brain to produce more dopamine. Euphoria is the by-product.
In a person addicted to Oxycontin, the brain is no longer be capable of producing sufficient amounts of dopamine on its own. It has become so dependent on Oxycontin that it relies on the drug to stimulate dopamine production. This reliance prevents the addict from experiencing any normal feelings of pleasure unless he or she is dosed up on Oxycontin.
How is addiction different? Where physical dependence relates only to how the body responds to Oxycontin, addiction relates to how decisions are made. A person who is addicted to Oxycontin is no longer able to consistently choose not to take the drug. He or she has lost that decision-making control to his/her cravings and compulsions.
It’s crucial to understand that a person can be physically dependent on Oxycontin without being addicted. This is not the norm, but it is possible. Also, note that there is an increased risk of a physically dependent person becoming addicted if his or her dependence is not addressed through professional treatment.
Oxycontin overdose is rare among people who use the drug under the supervision of a doctor. It is more common among those who use it recreationally. Overdose can occur in one of two ways.
First, taking too much Oxycontin in too short a time results in an overdose. Second, overdose can also occur when taking Oxycontin with other sedatives, like alcohol or benzodiazepines, even when the amount of Oxycontin is within the boundaries of a doctor’s instructions. Both forms of overdose are equally dangerous. Both require medical intervention to prevent injury and death.
The risks of Oxycontin overdose are very real and very serious. Like all opioids, Oxycontin reduces both respiration and heart rate – even when used under the supervision of a doctor. The danger of overdose is that respiration and heart rate could be reduced to the point of being fatal. Respiratory and cardiac arrest are very possible during Oxycontin overdose.
Another big danger of overdose is hypoxia. This is a condition under which the brain is starved of oxygen due to shallow breathing. Hypoxia can result in both short- and long-term brain damage. In some people, hypoxia can induce a coma from which there is no recovery.
We strongly urge you to take a look at them if you or someone you know is at risk. Recognising the signs and symptoms could be key to getting medical treatment during the early stages of overdose. The earlier an overdose is addressed, the better the outcome for the patient.
Oxycontin Addiction Treatment and Rehab
Treatment for Oxycontin addiction is available across the UK at both outpatient and inpatient clinics. A comprehensive treatment plan includes detox, rehabilitative therapies, and aftercare. Please note that residential clinics generally offer customised treatment plans to meet individual patient needs.
Oxycontin Addiction Withdrawal and Detox Statistics
Statistical data does not necessarily indicate how frequently people access treatment for Oxycontin addiction and withdrawal, so we have to look at more general statistics relating to opioids. Those statistics are alarming, to say the least. Even though the opioid crisis is almost exclusively an American problem right now, the UK is slowly finding itself approaching its own crisis.
According to the United Nations 2017 World Drug Report, approximately 50.4% of all drug treatments accessed in the UK in 2014 were for prescription opioids like Oxycontin. Among the top 20 nations dealing with the global opioid crisis, Great Britain ranks number 13. We are not immune to opioid abuse and addiction.
In terms of treatments, withdrawal, and detox, check out the statistics from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) 2018 United Kingdom Country Drug Report (numbers are based on 2016 data):
The UK is home to 360,445 high-risk opioid users
138,422 patients were treated for opioid abuse in 2016
67.6% of those patients received methadone substitution treatment
32.4% of those patients received buprenorphine substitution treatment
33% of the total patients receiving drug treatment were first-time recipients
13% of the total patients receiving opioid treatment were first-time recipients.
It is clear that we have our own opioid crisis, albeit not as big as what the States are dealing with. Nonetheless, opioid abuse and addiction is a growing concern here. If you are using Oxycontin in any way other than as prescribed by a doctor, you are abusing the drug by default. We urge you to get help before your abuse becomes dependence.
If you are already dependent or addicted to Oxycontin, know that help is available. Our residential rehab clinics are experts in medically-assisted detox, withdrawal, and rehabilitative therapies. You can beat your addiction with the help of trained professionals whose number one priority is your recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Oxycontin withdrawal affect my health?
In the short term, Oxycontin withdrawal will make you physically uncomfortable. It can jeopardise your health by way of accidental injuries and/or complications. Provided you complete withdrawal without experiencing any major health incidents, you can expect no long-lasting effects on your health as a result of withdrawal. You may still experience long-term effects as a result of the damage done by the Oxycontin itself.
Will my information be kept confidential?
Absolutely. Residential rehab clinics do not share personal or health information outside of the clinical setting. Only those who need access to your information to facilitate treatment will be afforded that opportunity. In addition, the fact that you are seeking treatment will also be kept confidential. Only those whom you choose to inform will know you are planning to attend a residential treatment programme.
Am I addicted?
You may be addicted if you have used Oxycontin for more than a few weeks. You can get a good idea of whether you are by taking a look at the signs and symptoms explained elsewhere on our website. To be sure though, you need a professional evaluation conducted by a trained doctor, nurse, or counsellor. A doctor is the most qualified to diagnose addiction and its severity.
How serious is Oxycontin detox?
Detoxing from Oxycontin is a very serious thing. There is always a risk of developing potentially life-threatening complications including respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, and Oxycontin withdrawal psychosis. The medical community considers detox and withdrawal a medical emergency requiring professional treatment.
Adding to the seriousness is the reality that cravings can lead to relapse before detox is completed. A cycle of repeated quit attempts followed by relapse makes detox even more difficult with every subsequent quit attempt.
Can medications help me detox from Oxycontin?
Yes, they can. Rehab clinics use a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications to stabilise patients, gradually tapering them from drug use, and control withdrawal symptoms. Medications are so helpful that it is hard to find a rehab clinic these days that doesn’t use them.
Can I die from Oxycontin withdrawal?
Yes, you can die from Oxycontin withdrawal. While deaths are rare in a medical setting, the risk is always present. Among the deaths that do occur during Oxycontin withdrawal, most are in some way related to respiratory or cardiac issues.
How do I detox from Oxycontin?
Some people attempt to self-detox by gradually reducing their dosage of Oxycontin. We do not recommend this due to the potential complications. If you must attempt it, enlist the help of family members or friends to stay with you throughout the entire process. Gradually taper your doses at manageable levels and find things to occupy your time during awake hours.
Having said all that, the best way to detox from Oxycontin is by way of professional treatment. You can detox at an NHS hospital or through a privately-run residential clinic. In either case, your detox will be medically supervised and assisted for your safety.
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