Understanding OxyContin Rehab and the Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder

Updated On: June 15, 2024
6 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

OxyContin, a powerful pain medication, belongs to a class of drugs known as prescription opioids.[1] It is primarily prescribed for the management of moderate to severe pain. However, OxyContin is also frequently misused and abused for its euphoric effects.

Its potent properties can cause respiratory depression, sedation, and even death, especially when combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

OxyContin Rehab

Key Points

  • OxyContin, a powerful pain medication, is an opioid primarily used for managing moderate to severe pain.
  • Despite its intended medical use, OxyContin is frequently misused and abused for its euphoric effects.
  • Misuse of OxyContin can lead to serious health complications, including respiratory depression, sedation, and even fatal overdose, particularly when combined with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines.
  • OxyContin addiction is characterized by excessive consumption, leading to physical dependence, psychological cravings, and adverse consequences, often reflecting an opioid use disorder (OUD).
  • OxyContin addiction treatment typically involves addressing the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction, with various levels of care available, such as detoxification, medically managed care, and inpatient residential treatment.
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    What is OxyContin?

    OxyContin, also known by its generic name oxycodone, is a potent prescription opioid medication primarily used to manage severe pain. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics, which work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, effectively reducing the perception of pain.[2]

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 10 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in 2019, including prescription pain relievers like oxycodone.[3] Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that opioids were involved in over 70% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019.[4]

    OxyContin is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).[5] This classification reflects its high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. As a Schedule II drug, OxyContin is legally available only through a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.

    OxyContin Addiction and Abuse

    OxyContin addiction encompasses behaviors marked by excessive and detrimental consumption of the drug, resulting in physical dependence, psychological cravings, and adverse life consequences indicative of opioid use disorder (OUD).[6] OxyContin poses a significant risk of addiction due to its capacity to induce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and pain relief by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord.

    The addictive potential of OxyContin stems from its influence on the brain’s reward system, which reinforces the pursuit of the drug. Persistent use of OxyContin can lead to tolerance, necessitating higher doses to achieve the desired effects, as well as dependence, characterized by withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of use.

    The misuse of OxyContin often stems from the desire to experience its pleasurable effects or to alleviate physical or emotional distress associated with opioid use disorder. Some individuals may abuse OxyContin by crushing or snorting the tablets to bypass the extended-release mechanism and attain a more rapid and intense high. Additionally, others may resort to tactics such as “doctor shopping” or prescription fraud to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drug, exacerbating the risk of opioid use disorder.

    OxyContin Quick Reference Chart

    Drug Category Opioid
    Commercial & Street Names Blue, hillbilly heroin, OCs, oxys, 40s, 80s
    DEA Schedule Schedule II
    Administration Oral, snorted

    Statistics on OxyContin Use, Misuse, and Addiction

    According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, nearly one million people over the age of 12 have engaged in nonmedical use of OxyContin at least once in their lifetime in 2002.[7] The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey revealed that four percent of high school seniors in the U.S. reported abusing the drug at least once in the past year.

    Overall, the number of fatalities from drug overdoses in 2021 was six times higher than the number recorded in 1999.[8] Furthermore, there was an increase of over 16% in drug overdose deaths from 2020 to 2021 alone, with opioids implicated in over 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021.

    Trends in opioid-involved deaths from 2020 to 2021 have shown the changing landscape of addiction in the US:

    • Opioid-involved death rates increased by over 15%
    • Prescription opioid-involved death rates remained the same
    • Heroin-involved death rates decreased by nearly 32%
    • Synthetic opioid-involved death rates (excluding methadone) saw an increase of over 22%

    OxyContin Addiction and Abuse

    OxyContin abuse can have profound, often devastating effects on your overall well-being:[9]

    Physical  Effects

    • Respiratory depression: OxyContin, like other opioids, can slow down breathing to dangerous levels, leading to oxygen deprivation and potentially fatal consequences.
    • Nausea and vomiting: OxyContin abuse can cause gastrointestinal distress, including persistent nausea and vomiting.
    • Constipation: Opioids like OxyContin are notorious for causing severe constipation, which can lead to discomfort and complications.
    • Drowsiness and sedation: OxyContin abuse can induce extreme drowsiness and sedation, impairing cognitive function and physical coordination.
    • Risk of overdose: High doses or combining OxyContin with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can lead to overdose, which may result in coma or death.

    Social and Behavioral Effects

    • Relationship issues: OxyContin abuse can strain relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues due to erratic behavior, dishonesty, and prioritization of drug use over responsibilities.
    • Legal issues: Obtaining OxyContin through illicit means or engaging in criminal activities to support addiction can lead to legal consequences, including arrest and incarceration.
    • Financial difficulties: Supporting a substance abuse habit can be financially draining, potentially leading to debt, unemployment, and homelessness.
    • Isolation: Individuals struggling with OxyContin abuse may withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves from loved ones, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and despair.

    OxyContin Addiction and Mental Health

    The interactions between OxyContin addiction and mental health are complex, with both conditions having the ability to influence each other. Individuals struggling with OxyContin addiction frequently contend with a range of mental health challenges, while pre-existing mental health disorders can also increase your vulnerability to opioid abuse.

    OxyContin abuse can impair cognitive function and emotional regulation, hindering daily functioning and exacerbating mood swings and stress management difficulties.[10] Individuals with co-occurring OxyContin addiction and mental health disorders face unique treatment challenges, requiring integrated care addressing both issues simultaneously. However, stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse may deter individuals from seeking help, underscoring the importance of de-stigmatization efforts and accessible, evidence-based care.

    OxyContin Rehab

    Treatment for OxyContin abuse (and opioid use disorders) typically looks to address the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. The cost, length, and process of addiction treatment can vary depending on factors such as the severity of addiction and the chosen treatment facility, among other factors.

    Cost of Treatment

    The cost of OxyContin addiction rehab can vary widely, depending on the type of program (inpatient, outpatient, residential), the duration of treatment, location, and amenities offered by the facility. Many treatment facilities accept health insurance, which can help offset the cost of treatment. Some facilities offer sliding-scale fees or financial assistance for those in need.

    Length of Treatment

    Treatment duration generally ranges from a few weeks to several months or longer. Short-term detoxification programs typically last from a few days to a couple of weeks and focus on safely managing withdrawal symptoms. Longer-term rehabilitation programs may last 30, 60, or 90 days, providing intensive therapy, counseling, and support to address underlying issues contributing to addiction and to promote sustained recovery.

    OxyContin Rehab Levels of Care

    Everyone’s rehab needs are unique, which is why rehab centers for OxyContin usually offer several different levels of care that can best align with your specific needs:

    • Medical Detoxification (Detox): Detoxification, commonly referred to as detox, involves the deliberate elimination of toxic substances such as drugs or alcohol from the body. This process is typically conducted under close supervision in medical facilities or specialized detox centers. The primary objective of detox is to safely manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal while preparing individuals for subsequent treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Medically Managed Care: Medically managed care combines medical expertise with therapy to assist patients in their recovery journey. This approach involves close monitoring by medical professionals who customize treatments and work collaboratively with other team members. This holistic approach fosters comprehensive healing and long-term well-being by addressing the physical and psychological aspects of patients’ conditions.
    • Inpatient Residential Treatment: Inpatient residential treatment entails individuals living full-time at a specialized facility as part of their rehabilitation program. With continuous care provided by healthcare professionals, these programs usually incorporate individual and group therapy sessions, educational workshops, and recreational activities. By immersing individuals in this structured environment, inpatient treatment fosters concentrated recovery efforts, intensive therapy sessions, and the acquisition of coping skills crucial for sustaining long-term sobriety.

    Therapies Used in OxyContin Addiction Treatment

    Alpas offers several evidence-based approaches to treat Oxycontin and other opioid addictions:

    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely adopted therapeutic method that concentrates on tackling negative thought patterns and behaviors linked to mental health conditions, such as addiction. In collaborative sessions with a therapist, individuals are guided to challenge distorted thinking, acquire coping strategies, and effectively manage cravings. This approach empowers individuals to gain insight into their thought processes and behavior patterns, enabling them to make positive changes and achieve sustainable recovery.
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT combines mindfulness, acceptance, and behavior change strategies within a cognitive-behavioral framework. Initially designed for borderline personality disorder, DBT has broadened its scope to encompass various mental health issues, including addiction. It emphasizes developing skills in emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. Therapists employ a blend of individual sessions, group training, coaching, and assignments to teach coping skills and foster emotional stability in individuals undergoing treatment.
    • Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI is a counseling approach focused on enhancing motivation for behavior change. Therapists engage in collaborative conversations, demonstrating empathy and employing reflective listening techniques to help individuals align their behavior with their desired goals. MI aims to empower individuals by bolstering their readiness and commitment to making meaningful life changes.
    • Contingency Management: Contingency management is a therapeutic strategy that leverages rewards to encourage desired behaviors, such as maintaining sobriety. Individuals are offered incentives for meeting treatment goals, such as attending sessions or passing drug tests. These rewards, including vouchers or prizes, boost motivation and foster adherence to treatment objectives.
    • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET): MET is a counseling approach designed to enhance motivation and commitment to behavior change. Using structured discussions and feedback, MET addresses ambivalence about changing behaviors by assisting individuals in clarifying their values and goals. By cultivating confidence in their capacity to change, MET prioritizes internal motivation for positive transformation over delving into the root causes of addiction.
    • Experiential Therapy: Experiential therapy utilizes interactive activities to facilitate emotional processing and personal growth. Diverging from traditional talk therapy, it incorporates hands-on approaches such as role-playing and art therapy. Participating in these activities allows individuals to express emotions and acquire coping skills within a supportive environment encompassing the body, mind, and spirit, thus fostering profound personal transformation.
    • Relapse Prevention: Relapse prevention is a crucial aspect of recovery. It aids individuals in identifying triggers, developing coping strategies, and devising plans to thwart relapse. In this therapy, participants are equipped to recognize warning signs, such as stress and emotional triggers, and are provided with skills to manage them effectively. By fostering self-awareness and imparting practical tools, relapse prevention therapy addresses the underlying causes of addictive behaviors, thereby supporting long-term sobriety.
    • Twelve-Step Facilitation: Twelve-step facilitation is instrumental in addiction recovery by involving individuals in programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Utilizing group meetings, step work, and peer support, this approach fosters a sense of community and accountability. Through active participation in these programs, individuals can establish and maintain sobriety while acquiring valuable tools for sustained recovery over the long term.
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    Frequently Asked Questions About OxyContin and OxyContin Rehab


    How long does it take to become addicted to OxyContin?


    Addiction to OxyContin can develop at varying rates depending on individual factors such as dosage, frequency of use, and susceptibility to addiction. Some individuals may become addicted after only a few weeks of regular use, while others may take longer. It’s essential to use OxyContin as prescribed and to be aware of the signs of addiction.


    Can OxyContin be detected in drug tests?


    Yes, OxyContin can be detected in drug tests. Standard drug tests, such as urine or blood tests, can typically detect the presence of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin. However, specialized tests may be required to differentiate between specific opioids. Disclosing prescription medications to the testing facility is essential to ensure accurate results.


    What is the difference between OxyContin and oxycodone?


    OxyContin and oxycodone are related but distinct medications. Oxycodone is the active ingredient in both OxyContin and immediate-release oxycodone tablets. The primary difference between them lies in their formulation and duration of action. OxyContin is an extended-release formulation of oxycodone designed to provide around-the-clock pain relief, while immediate-release oxycodone provides rapid relief but requires more frequent dosing.


    [1] Medlineplus. (2023, May 15). Oxycodone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Medlineplus.gov. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html on April 4, 2024

    [2] Hcp Home. (n.d.). Www.oxycontin.com. https://www.oxycontin.com/ on April 4, 2024


    [4] Drug overdose deaths – CDC, United States. (n.d.). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/hus/topics/drug-overdose-deaths.htm on April 4, 2024

    [5] OxyContin Fast Facts. (n.d.). Www.justice.gov. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6025/index.htm on April 4, 2024

    [6] Dydyk, A. M., Jain, N. K., & Gupta, M. (2024, January 17). Opioid Use Disorder. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553166/ on April 5, 2024

    [7] Oxycontin Fast Facts. (n.d.). https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6025/6025p.pdf on April 5, 2024

    [8] Drug overdose deaths*. (n.d.). County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/health-data/health-factors/health-behaviors/alcohol-and-drug-use/drug-overdose-deaths?year=2024 on April 5, 2024

    [9] Oxycodone (Oral Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Www.mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/oxycodone-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20074193?p=1 on April 5, 2024

    [10] Alcohol and Drug foundation. (2021, December 2). Oxycodone – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Adf.org.au. https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/oxycodone/ on April 5, 2024

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