Signs and Symptoms

How can you tell if you or someone you know has an OxyContin addiction? The first step in understanding the signs of the addiction is knowledge of how the drug works. Once you know how the drug functions in the body, the signs of OxyContin addiction become much easier to spot, getting treatment at an OxyContin rehab becomes the next focus.

Understand the Causes

As the fastest growing drug addiction in the US, it is obvious that OxyContin has a powerful pull on those who use it. But why?

OxyContin AddictionOther pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen work at the site of pain in the body to reduce inflammation. However, OxyContin goes directly to the brain and nervous system to bind to receptors that block the sensation of pain and enhance the experience of pleasure. The drug in a sense is “tricking” the brain because the condition causing the pain remains unchanged, but the patient relaxes and the sensation of the pain vanishes.

Initially after taking OxyContin, a few minutes of intense euphoria is experienced by the user followed by a long period of a dreamy, pleasurable state. Gradually, as the drug is flushed from the body, the sense of pleasure is replaced by a feeling of anxiety. This unpleasant state causes the user to seek out more of the drug to release them from their uneasiness.

OxyContin causes a repression of the functions of the central nervous system. The user feels a slowing down of all of their senses and their perception of time changes, leaving them lethargic and sleepy. The most dangerous of OxyContin’s effects is that it slows down both the heart rate and breathing rate. If the user overdoses, he or she will go into cardiac arrest and/or stop breathing. This happens most often when users crush or snort a time-release pill, flooding their system with a large amount of OxyContin.

Two Types of Symptoms

Since an OxyContin addict may or may not always have a steady supply of the drug (especially if they are relying on a doctor’s prescription) their physical signs and symptoms may waver between two extremes. In general, the signs of active use include a slowing of the central nervous system, whereas, the signs of withdrawal mimic a stimulated central nervous system. Notice as you read the following signs of both active use and withdrawal that the physical and behavioral patterns may be the exact opposite.
Signs of an Active User ::

Most Common Signs of OxyContin Addiction in an Active User

  • Constricted Pupils. The easiest way to determine if someone is on OxyContin is to look closely at their eyes. Opiates cause a pronounced constriction of the pupils. If the black part of the eye is much smaller than usual, this may be a sign of OxyContin use. If the pupil is of normal size, the person has not used opiates recently.
  • Drowsiness. An active user will appear as if they are struggling to stay awake. This effect is known as “nodding out.”  As they drift in and out of consciousness many times, they will still try to maintain a conversation. Therefore, slow, slurred and disjointed speech is a sign of OxyContin addiction as well. This inability to stay alert will cause problems in all areas of the patient’s life such as poor performance at work or school and loss of previously important interpersonal relationships.
  • Paraphernalia. Someone using OxyContin may have pipes, small mirrors, short lengths of straws or rolled up dollar bills for snorting, multiple pill bottles or syringes in their possession, depending upon how they ingest the drug.
  • Use of Multiple Doctors. OxyContin users will often have more than one doctor prescribing pain medications in order to maintain their habit. They may also have a tendency to sustain injuries shortly after their last prescription runs out, giving them an easy excuse to “need” more pain meds.

Other symptoms of OxyContin abuse include:

  • Sleeplessness/insomnia
  • Complaints about Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability (especially when the drug is withheld)
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Unethical or criminal behavior (doctor shopping to obtain more of the drug)

Withdrawal Signs ::

Most Common Withdrawal Signs of OxyContin Addiction

All of the following signs of OxyContin addiction will disappear immediately by taking more OxyContin. Experienced users call this  “getting well.” All these withdrawal symptoms make the desire to return to drug use very powerful.

  • Dilated Pupils. The pupils appear larger than normal during OxyContin withdrawal.
  • Insomnia/ Restlessness/Anxiety. Someone in withdrawal from OxyContin will experience an overwhelming state of agitation with an inability to relax or sleep.
  • Flu-like Symptoms. These signs and symptoms include the experience of cold sweats, cramping, fever, muscle aches and pains, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, runny nose, goose bumps and clammy skin.
  • Depression. After initial withdrawal symptoms ease, the user will feel dissatisfied with life—a syndrome called dysphoria.

Do You Need OxyContin Addiction Help?

Are you taking OxyContin on a regular basis, but unsure whether or not you may have a problem? The following is a list of signs you can look for in yourself to determine if you need OxyContin addiction help:

  • Feeling that you need to use the drug regularly
  • Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
  • Spending money you can’t afford on the drug
  • Doing things you normally wouldn’t in order to get OxyContin, such as stealing
  • Feeling that you need to use OxyContin to deal with your problems
  • Your OxyContin use has started to affect your performance at work/school
  • Engaging in dangerous activities under the influence, such as driving
  • Spending an increasing amount of time and energy on getting and using OxyContin
  • Your use of OxyContin is causing you to have problems in your close relationships

Learn More About Treatment

If you see the signs of OxyContin addiction in yourself or someone close to you, help is closer than you think. Don’t let someone go down the dangerous and potentially lethal path of OxyContin addiction. Call us today so we can help you take the first step toward recovery by helping you enroll in an OxyContin detox or OxyContin rehab program near you.

Additional Resources

http://www.justice.gov/ndic/pubs6/6025/index.htm
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/oxycodone/oxycontin_faq.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000589/