Helping a Loved One Overcome Oxycontin Addiction

by Dr. Rich on September 24, 2012

Discovering that a loved one is addicted to opioid narcotics is a scary realization.  Opioid medications such as oxycontin are frequently prescribed for the purpose of pain relief.  For those suffering from a debilitating illness such as cancer or lupus, chronic pain is a real issue.  Some may experience constant and severe pain as a result of illness, and a physician’s main goal is to treat illness and control pain, so oxycontin is often prescribed as a pain killer.  This is typically not a problem, but long term use can lead to dependency.  It is often a relative or close personal friend who first notices signs of addiction.

 

Addiction occurs for several reasons.  Suffering from an injury or potentially life-threatening illness is an emotional experience.  Pain is of course a side effect, but the emotional struggle is also an added stressor.  Pain relievers not only remove the pain, but they also offer relief from emotional pain as well.  Oxycontin has a euphoric effect, and this can be pleasurable as well as relaxing.  Tolerance levels may increase.  As more medication is taken, your body will adjust and more may need to be taken to relieve pain.  Some may feel like addiction is not a possibility since this is a prescribed drug and does not carry the same stigma as a “street drug”.  In addition, oxycontin is legally available and it is typically just a matter of making a visit to your primary physician to obtain a refill.

 

Watching for signs and symptoms of addiction in your loved one may be the first step in getting him/her help.  In the beginning you may notice that they are taking the medication frequently.  If a medication is prescribed for once every four hours, but you notice your loved one is taking them every two, an addiction may be forming.  Furthermore, they may be unable to refrain from taking the medication and this may have an effect on social relationships as well as occupational ones.  If you notice that your loved one is missing social outings or constantly missing work, this may be a sign.

 

Later, you may notice mood swings as they shift from happy to sad or agitated within a relatively small amount of time.  They may begin to sleep more often, or they may sleep less depending on the medication they are taking.  Watch for extreme weight gain or loss, and watch for dilated pupils as a sign that dependency has become a problem.

 

Drug seeking behaviors may increase as the need for the opioid narcotic increases.  Lying may occur such as claiming to have lost medication to gain more from the physician.  Stealing money or other valuable possessions to gain more medication may also be a sign.  Finances may become affected, such as lack of money due to missed time from work or purchasing the drug illegally.  Finding stashes of oxycontin like multiple pill bottles from different physicians is yet another possibility. This is because when one physician stops prescribing the oxycontin, those suffering from dependency will frequently switch doctors to gain more pills.

 

Once a problem has been discovered, getting your loved one is crucial in helping them overcome addiction and may even save his/her life.  The first step in getting someone help is to put you first.  This may seem odd since it is your loved one with the potentially dangerous habit, but dealing with someone who is addicted to opioid narcotics is stressful and stress takes a toll on mental and physical health.  Gain knowledge about addiction by speaking with professionals, discover the best way to empathize with your loved one and learn how to manage your own stress.  Expect a challenge.  Your loved one may not realize there is a problem and may be reluctant to admit it.  It is also embarrassing to admit that dependency is an issue and this embarrassment may keep them from asking for help.  The medication may also be a comfort for those who have chronic pain, and fear of pain or anxiety may mean they do not want to quit taking the oxycontin.

 

Once you have discussed an addiction problem with your loved one, it is time to get them help.  Professionals can help you discover the best treatment option for them.  Do not forget to include them in the process of treatment options so they feel as if they have control over their own life and future.  There are several treatment options that include medicated assistance, rapid detoxification without the aid of meds, and treatment facilities where your loved one can stay to receive help and therapy until the urge to take opioid narcotics has decreased.

 

It is often a loved one who will recognize that dependency has become a problem before the individual even realizes it.  Loved ones can watch for signs and symptoms of addiction and offer help and guidance on the road to recovery.

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