How to Recognize Oxycontin Abuse

Did you know that 9% of all adults in the United States have or will abuse opioid narcotics like Oxycontin in their lifetime? Prescription painkiller abuse is an epidemic in the United States, and Oxycontin abuse can destroy not only relationships but lives.

Are you worried that a loved one may have an Oxycontin addiction? Knowing how to spot the signs of Oxycontin can save a life, and help you get your loved one the treatment they need.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about Oxycontin abuse, so you can spot the signs and help any loved ones struggling with this horrible opioid addiction.

What is Oxycontin?

Oxycontin, which is the brand name for oxycodone, is an opiate people use to treat moderate to severe pain. Doctors typically prescribe this drug to treat ongoing pain that is expected to last for an extended period of time.

Oxycontin can be a lifeline for people who are suffering from chronic pain because of cancer, bone pain, heart attacks, and severe burns, as it can provide continuous pain relief.

What are the Symptoms of Oxycontin Abuse?

The symptoms of Oxycontin addiction differ greatly between individuals. The symptoms vary based on factors like the length of the addiction, the amount of the drug used, and how often it's used.

In most cases, the addicted person will spend most of their time obtaining and using the drug, and may even try to get multiple prescriptions for a variety of doctors or try to obtain the drug in an illegal manner.

Here is a list of symptoms and signs common to Oxycontin Abuse:

Self Medication

People with an Oxycontin abuse problem will often use the drug to start self-medicating and self-treating issues like pain or anxiety. They'll do this without a doctor's guidance or use their prescription for reasons other than for what it was intended to be used for.

They'll also take more than what is prescribed in a single setting, or continue to use this drug after a doctor has recommended an end to treatment.

Altered Cognitive States

Oxycontin abuse can greatly impact someone's ability to function properly and bring about cognitive and mental changes. Often times, this can lead to the person being unable to make sound decisions or judgments, or leave them feeling confused or disoriented.

Beyond these general cognitive changes, they're also likely to experience the following mood symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability

If the loved one you are worried about seems abnormally calm or relaxed, forgetting things, or seems like they're losing touch with what's going on around them, it's possible they're abusing Oxycontin.

Physical Changes

If someone's addicted to Oxycontin, their body will often show signs of it. Here are some common physical signs of Oxycontin abuse:

  • Constipation
  • Itchiness
  • Smaller pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Respiratory depression

People who are abusing Oxycontin are also less likely to practice self-care, so they'll look unwashed or less put together than they normally are.

Also keep an eye out for skin damage like track marks or abscesses, as some addicts may try to inject the Oxycontin to get higher quicker.

Behavioral Changes

Oxycontin addiction truly changes how a person acts and behaves. In fact, it may make them almost entirely unrecognizable. Here are some major behavioral symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Lying about Oxycontin use
  • Borrowing or stealing pills
  • Visiting multiple doctors
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Financial problems
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Neglecting work and family responsibilities
  • Strained interpersonal relationships

Drug Paraphernalia

Some people are better at hiding their opioid abuse problems than others. It's possible that your loved one could be masking their addiction to hide it from other people.

If you're worried about your loved one but don't have proof they have an abuse problem, you may want to look around their room or home for any paraphernalia that may point to a problem.

Most people abuse OxyContin by swallowing the drug in large, frequent doses. But people who don't ingest the drug this way may have things lying around their space that point out a possible problem.

Look for any mirrors or hard surfaces with white powder on them, as that may point to them crushing pills. Look for anything that may indicate theirs snorting the drug, such as straws or razor blades. And lastly, look for any syringes, belts, or rubbing alcohol that may point to injection drug use.

The Effects of Oxycontin Abuse

If left untreated, Oxycontin can negatively impact every aspect of an addict's life. Here are some common consequences of long-term Oxycontin use:

  • Homelessness
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Loss of employment
  • Arrest
  • Loss of interpersonal relationships

Oxycontin abuse can do more than ruin your career and relationships. The side effects can be fatal. If left untreated or if abused too greatly, Oxycontin usage can lead to fatal side effects such as a coma and death.

What to Do About Oxycontin Abuse

OxyContin addiction can be scary, but you shouldn't lose faith or feel defeated by a loved one's addiction. There are many great recovery programs that can help struggling individuals with this addiction build a strong foundation for their recovery. If a loved one is struggling with this addiction, you should consider getting them involved in an opiate detox program.

An opiate detox program will give the struggling individual a safe and comfortable environment to detox, which is often needed because withdrawal can be difficult and often quite painful. After that, there are a variety of other treatment options they can explore, such as:

  • Residential Treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Group counseling
  • Individual therapy

Regardless of the program, most abuse treatments have three stages: withdrawal or detox, rehab with intensive counseling and therapy, and recovery.

Final Thoughts on Oxycontin Issues

The first step in helping a loved one with an Oxycontin problem is recognizing the signs and seeking help. By reviewing the symptoms in this article, you can have a better idea of what to look, and pinpoint the problem in a faster and more efficient way.

Are you looking for a detox option for a loved one? Contact us to learn more about treatment options!



Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 10th, 2018.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
Latest posts by Vicky Magobet (see all)