OxyContin Addiction Symptoms & Warning Signs

Understanding OxyContin Addiction

Learn about OxyContin addiction & abuse

OxyContin, the trade name for the generic oxycodone, is a potent prescription drug that is used to treat those who struggle with moderate to severe physical pain. Classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, this narcotic opioid has great potential to be abused and is addictive. The specific function of this substance is to reduce the pain that individuals feel, however, OxyContin can also produce effects that include relaxation, pleasure, and enhanced wellbeing that can keep them continually using this drug. The abuse of this substance can cause physical and psychological dependence, causing the onset of opioid use disorder, which can lead to severe upset within an individual’s life. As soon as a dependency or an addiction to OxyContin develops, it can be exceptionally challenging for individuals to defeat these issues without the help of professionals. Thankfully, there are treatment options available that can help individuals overcome OxyContin use disorder.


Statistics on OxyContin addiction & abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 26.4 to 36 million people abuse opioids globally. Within the United States, NIDA estimates that 2.1 million individuals who suffer from substance use disorders are addicted to opioids like OxyContin. Additionally, the death toll that has resulted from prescription painkiller overdoses has quadrupled since 1999.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for OxyContin addiction & abuse

The causes and risk factors that play a role in an individual’s likelihood of abusing opioids, including OxyContin, can include:

Genetic: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that genetic factors have a determining role in whether an individual will struggle with opioid use disorder or not. Those with family members who battle with this type of addiction are much more likely to also struggle with similar issues than those who do not share this family background. In addition, the APA also reports that specific traits can impact whether or not a person will be attracted to the abuse of substances like OxyContin.

Environmental: The environment in which one lives can also play a major role in increasing one’s vulnerability to developing an OxyContin addiction. Being around individuals who abuse a substance such as this can impact an individual’s decision to do so, too.  The accessibility of OxyContin also plays a large environmental role in this type of addiction. Lastly, battling with a physical injury or chronic pain condition that requires the use of a pain medication can also increase one’s chances of becoming addicted to or abusing OxyContin.

Risk Factors:

  • Associating with peers who abuse drugs, including OxyContin
  • Having gone through surgery or suffering from an injury or complex pain condition that warrants the prescribing of a pain medication
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Personal history of conduct disorder in childhood
  • Being male (The APA states that rates of opioid use disorder are higher among males than they are among females.)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of OxyContin addiction & abuse

The signs and symptoms of opioid use disorder (including the abuse of OxyContin) will vary from individual to individual based on the frequency of use and the amount that is being consumed. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Planning and attending to daily activities in a way that is centered on obtaining or using OxyContin
  • Slurred speech
  • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions of the drug
  • Engaging in regular patterns of OxyContin use
  • Using the substance in situations that are physically dangerous (e.g. driving while being high on OxyContin)
  • Social withdrawal
  • No longer participating in activities that were enjoyed
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home or at work

Physical symptoms:

  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Drowsiness
  • Pupil constriction

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impairment in memory
  • Impaired judgment
  • Experiencing continued cravings to use OxyContin
  • Impairment in attention

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feeling in a state of unease (dysphoria)
  • Apathy
  • Euphoria


Effects of OxyContin addiction & abuse

OxyContin abuse can bring about a number of disturbances within an individual’s life. All areas of functioning, including personal, social, familial, and occupational, can be deeply impacted by the continued use of OxyContin. In addition, an individual’s physical wellbeing is put at risk when the use of this substance continues. Some examples of the numerous effects that can develop include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Visual disturbances
  • Marital discord
  • Familial strife
  • Onset of new or exacerbation of current symptoms of other mental health conditions
  • Vital organ damage
  • Injured veins / track marks (in those who inject the drug)
  • Decline in occupational functioning, potentially resulting in job loss and subsequent financial strain
  • Disturbances within social relationships

Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal and overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal: When an individual stops abusing OxyContin after doing so for a long time, he or she puts him or herself at risk for going through withdrawal. During this time, an individual can have serious pain and discomfort. Some OxyContin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Sweating
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Effects of OxyContin overdose: The longer that an OxyContin addiction persists, the more likely an individual’s risk of overdosing becomes. This occurs because the individual must keep increasing his or her dosage to obtain the same effects. When an individual takes too much OxyContin and his or her body is unable to metabolize it, an overdose can occur. Overdosing on OxyContin should be treated as a medical emergency and immediate treatment should be obtained. Signs of an OxyContin overdose can include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sudden sleepiness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • Extreme confusion
  • Severe dizziness
  • Highly slurred speech