OxyContin is gradually addictive. This means that the user becomes more and more dependent on the drug over time in small increments. This gradual nature of addiction can lead many to deny that there is a problem.
When is Treatment Necessary?
If someone is using OxyContin after the pain that it was prescribed for has stopped, then they are likely becoming physically and mentally dependent on the drug. Likewise, if someone is using OxyContin habitually and was never prescribed the medication, they are becoming hooked and risk a full blown OxyContin addiction.
Addiction has many definitions but one commonly used is “repeated compulsive use of a substance despite adverse consequences.”
Treatment is necessary if someone is addicted to OxyContin and cannot quit on their own. Treatment can also be helpful if the person who is being treated was coerced into agreeing to treatment through an intervention.
Supervised Withdrawal (Detoxification)
The discomfort in “detoxing” from OxyContin can be severe and unbearable. For this reason, the addicted person often relapses and uses the drug again. There are opiate detox facilities that specialize in minimizing the discomfort through the prescribing of other medications like Suboxone and gradually reducing the dosage (also known as “titrating down). There is also a process called “rapid detoxification” that occurs by administering the individual naltrexone while he or she is unconscious (by way of anesthesia).
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Once the person’s body is free from the drug for a few days, it is highly recommended that they participate in treatment in a long term, residential, therapeutic community. There are studies that show a direct correlation between length of residential (or inpatient) treatment and likelihood of long term sobriety.
The commitment of time and money for long term residential treatment is often a barrier to participation by the person in need of treatment (and a great excuse for their addicted mind to subconsciously put them in a position to abuse the drug again in the near future) but the costs of not committing time and money to receiving proper treatment for drug dependence are usually much more pronounced.
There are a variety of different types of drug treatment centers but the model that has been most commonly accepted as providing the best foundation incorporate the 12-Step model based on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Participation in the 12-Step program during treatment provides a good foundation in a fellowship that is global and participated in by millions of recovering people. There are also offshoots of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Cocaine Anonymous (CA). Most residential treatment centers use individual therapy, group therapy, self esteem building activities, and frequent drug testing to enhance the treatment the person receives.
Successful treatment for opioid dependence should include a variety of workshops and processes during which the person who has become addicted learns about the drug and what it has done to their lives. There should be an education about identifying triggers that cause them to want to use the drug. The person should begin a therapeutic regimen that allows underlying issues to be identified and processed (for instance, issues with the family or instances of trauma in the person’s past). The best treatment programs usually incorporate the family into the treatment process through a family counseling process that allows for honest sharing and facilitates healing.
There is also the option of participating in an outpatient treatment program. This is a program in which the person gets many of the same services that they would receive in an inpatient treatment program but they do not sleep on the treatment center’s premises. This type of treatment is successful for many people but not surprisingly shows less efficacy when compared to treatment at a residential facility.
Outpatient treatment is also a good “step down” for people who are responding well to treatment at an inpatient facility but are ready to “step down” their level of care by moving out of the facility. Outpatient treatment can also be enhanced by the patient living in a residential sober living home.