Is Your Loved One Addicted To Oxycontin: Recognizing The Signs

by Dr. Rich on October 8, 2012

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise and a major cause for concern.  This may be because of the unrecognized potential for addiction.  Many feel if it is a prescription medication, then it is safe and not habit forming.  Others may take the medication with increasing frequency due to pain from a chronic illness or injury.  Oxycontin is a powerful narcotic typically prescribed for mild to moderate pain, and one of the medications that may become habit forming with extended use.   While doctors are aware of the risk, they will often opt to give the medication while watching for signs of abuse.  A physician’s primary concern is pain control and usually feels as if the benefits of these meds often outweigh the risk.

Those who become addicted may not recognize that they have a problem, so loved ones may be the first to notice signs and symptoms of dependency.  The first sign is usually taking more of the oxycontin than has been safely prescribed by a doctor.  If you notice that your friend or relative is taking the medication frequently or in larger doses than advised, this may be a sign of addiction.  In addition, it is not unusual for those with dependency problems to claim medication has been lost or stolen.  This is done in an attempt to get the doctor to give more pain medication.

Other drug seeking behaviors include switching doctors and stealing.  Often, the abuser may seek out a different doctor in an attempt to gain a new prescription.  This is because the new doctor does not know about the individual’s history with the med so is therefore not reluctant to give it.  Stealing, whether it is money, personal belongings, or other peoples prescriptions is also a sign of drug abuse.  Many take money as a way to pay for more oxycontin, or they begin taking prescription pain medications prescribed for friends and family members.

A change in behavior is yet another sign of dependency.  Severe personality changes such as easy agitation or aggression are signs, as well as a change in appearance.  Those with dependency problems may lose interest in maintaining their appearance, and personal hygiene habits like bathing or shaving may suffer.

 Oxycontin addiction is also a concern for teens.  Whether the teen has been prescribed the narcotic by a doctor, or they take pills prescribed to parents, friends or relatives, it is a possibility for them to become dependent.  Teens may exhibit behaviors like loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.  If your teen suddenly loses interest in sports, drama club, or other activities they previously showed a major interest in, this could be a sign of addiction.  Furthermore, they may stop hanging out with friends and family.

Once it has been established that a friend or loved one is struggling with dependency, the next step is to approach them in an attempt to get them to recognize the problem and seek help.  Before approaching your loved one, it is important to get educated.  It is necessary to know how addiction works so you might empathize with your friend or family member.  It is not easy for those who have never experienced this problem to understand the impact it takes on one’s life.  It is not just a simple matter of ceasing to take the medication.  Cravings can be overwhelming and detoxification is a grueling process that involves tremors, nausea, vomiting, and possible hallucinations, to name a few.  Read up on addiction.  Talk with professionals about ways to help your loved one.

Step in and offer help.  It is a misconception that the dependent needs to lose everything commonly referred to as “hitting rock bottom” before they seek help.  Often, it is just the concern of someone who cares about them that will encourage them to seek help.  Gather up other friends and family members and approach your loved one in a patient and non-threatening manner.  Try to open up a discussion about your concerns for their health and well-being.  Discuss treatment options and be an active and supportive participant in therapy.

Be understanding.  Know that recovery does not happen overnight.  It may take months or years to beat the addiction, and relapse is always a possibility.  It can be emotionally draining to watch a loved one suffer from prescription addiction.  It is especially painful to watch them attempt recovery and falter along the way.  Give yourself permission to feel, frustration, anger, tiredness and most importantly hope.  Seek out therapy for yourself if needed.  It is ok to admit that this process is hard on you as well.

Addiction to the pain medication Oxycontin is serious and potentially life-threatening.  It often takes a loved one to step in and voice concerns and help the dependent individual admit they need help.  By remaining a part of the healing process, it is possible to help your loved one beat addiction.

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