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What are the Symptoms of an OxyContin® Addiction?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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OxyContin® is a potent prescription medication intended for use by people with chronic or acute pain. The time-release drug is very effective at soothing symptoms related to serious injuries, as it numbs pain while stimulating pleasurable sensations in a manner similar to morphine and heroin. Like those drugs, OxyContin® can quickly become addictive, especially if it is taken without a prescription or in doses larger than recommended by a doctor. Symptoms of an OxyContin® addiction may include unusual changes in behavior, obsessing about the drug, and taking larger and more frequent doses over time.

The keystones of any drug addiction are tolerance and dependence. One of the first noticeable symptoms of an OxyContin® addiction is the development of a physical tolerance for the drug; a person must increase the dosage amount to achieve the same affect as smaller doses used to provide. Dependence refers to a progressively worsening physical, mental, and emotional reliance on OxyContin®. A person may feel as if he or she would be unable to function without the drug and obsesses over obtaining, preparing, and using it all of the time.

Addicts typically experience severe, painful physical withdrawal symptoms when they do not have access to the drug. As the body becomes dependent on the high levels of opioids that OxyContin® provides, it is severely depleted of normal levels in absence of the medication. Cold sweats, nausea, diarrhea, depression, and severe joint aches that begin within a few hours of not using the drug are some of the most telling symptoms of an OxyContin® addiction.

As tolerance, dependency, and withdrawal symptoms of an OxyContin® addiction worsen, the risk of an overdose increases dramatically. If a person's system is overwhelmed with a large dose, his or her breathing can slow or even stop. Seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, and death are very real possibilities. If a person is able to survive an overdose with the help of emergency medical services, he or she may have permanent cognitive or physical deficits.

A person who notices symptoms of an OxyContin® addiction in friends or loved ones should encourage them to seek help. As with any addiction, however, an individual must be honestly willing to beat the problem for any type of treatment to be effective. With the right attitude, a person can learn how to overcome addiction with the help of inpatient rehabilitation programs, outpatient sessions with a psychologist, or support group meetings with fellow addicts.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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