The Science behind OxyContin Addiction
OxyContin is an opioid drug, as it is a potent prescription painkiller distilled from the same root ingredient as opium and heroin. It is a highly effective medication that is frequently prescribed for short-term pain following injury or surgery. While it can be a useful drug, OxyContin carries a high risk of dependency and addiction.
How Physical Addiction to OxyContin Works
Opioids such as OxyContin block pain by binding to chemical receptors in the brain that manage the transmission of signals in the central nervous system. The chemical structure of OxyContin closely resembles that of naturally occurring endorphins in the brain. OxyContin mimics the function of endorphins but with increased intensity. It replaces the normal use of endorphins in the body and suppresses their natural production.
The brain adapts to the presence of OxyContin and builds a tolerance to it relatively quickly. This means the user will need larger and larger doses in order to feel the intended effects. Once a person has developed an addiction, he or she will experience potentially severe withdrawal symptoms if OxyContin use is stopped. These symptoms are directly connected to the natural use of endorphins in the body and include the following:
- Pain in the muscles, bones and joints
- Flu-like symptoms
Withdrawal tends to last from just a few days to multiple weeks. In some cases this withdrawal period can be dangerous or even life threatening. Medically supervised detox is safer, more effective and more comfortable than self-detox.
Understanding Psychological Addiction to OxyContin
The most powerful aspect of OxyContin addiction is the effect it has on a person’s psychological health. In addition to blocking signals of physical pain the drug gives users a feeling of euphoria and blocks any emotional pain or anxiety. The brain will crave this relief on a level that is more involved in driving behavior than conscious thought or will. OxyContin withdrawal is accompanied by psychological symptoms such as the following:
- Panic attacks
- Impulse control issues
Many people mistakenly believe that ending addiction is simply a matter of feelings or willpower. The truth is that overcoming the psychological aspect of OxyContin addiction requires professional treatment and significant time. Neural pathways in the brain are chemically rewired by the addiction, and only intensive rehabilitative therapy can reprogram the brain to its pre-addiction health.
Overcoming OxyContin Addiction
While the physical aspects of OxyContin addiction can be overcome in a matter of days, psychological dependency can last for months or even years. Many addicts suffer from at least one co-occurring psychological issue that will compromise their addiction recovery. The most effective OxyContin treatment programs develop customized treatment plans that include education, counseling, medical attention and introduction to healthy habits and coping techniques.
Where to Find the Best Help for OxyContin Addiction Recovery
If you need help with an addiction to OxyContin, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors are standing by to help you find the best recovery options for your specific needs. Don’t try to quit OxyContin alone. We’re ready to help, and we have science and experience on our side.