Causes & Symptoms of OxyContin Addiction

Since 1957, Azure Acres Treatment Center has given hope to individuals struggling with OxyContin addiction and its lasting effects. Azure Acres provides residents high-quality alcohol and drug abuse treatment near Santa Rosa, California.

Understanding OxyContin

Learn about OxyContin and substance abuse

OxyContin, the trade name for oxycodone, is a potent prescription medication that is capable of alleviating moderate to severe physical pain. OxyContin, a narcotic opioid, is a Schedule II controlled substance because it has a great potential to be abused. While the drug itself works to reduce the pain that individuals feel, it can also trigger the development of pleasurable sensations that keep individuals coming back for more, as not only is their physical pain relieved, but they obtain a strong sense of wellbeing, relaxation, and euphoria. However, the abuse of this substance can cause physical and psychological dependency to develop, leading to the onset of opioid use disorder, and causing damage to tear through all areas of an individual’s life. As soon as a dependency or addiction to OxyContin is established, it can be incredibly challenging to overcome without the help of professionals. Luckily, there are options for care that can help individuals push past their addictions once and for all.


OxyContin addiction statistics

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) approximates that between 26.4 and 36 million individuals abuse opioids throughout the world. Within America, NIDA reports that nearly 2.1 million people battle substance use disorders like OxyContin abuse. The number of deaths that have occurred due to unintentional overdoses on prescription painkillers like OxyContin has quadrupled since 1999.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for OxyContin addiction

The causes and risk factors that can affect an individual’s likelihood of abusing opioids like OxyContin can include:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), genetic factors play a major role in whether or not an individual is more likely to suffer from opioid use disorder. Those who have family members who are afflicted with this condition are more likely to also struggle with similar issues than those who do not have this same family background. In addition, the APA states that specific factors linked to temperament can also provide insight regarding an individual’s vulnerability to abusing an opioid like OxyContin.

Environmental: The environments to which individuals are exposed can also impact their chances of abusing OxyContin in the future. Being surrounded by others who abuse this type of substance can impact an individual’s decision to do the same. In addition, OxyContin is often highly accessible, which can promote its use. If an individual is struggling with a condition where he or she requires a prescription to OxyContin, his or her vulnerability to abusing this substance increases, too.

Risk Factors:

  • Being male (The APA states that rates of opioid use disorder are higher in males than they are in females.)
  • Personal history of conduct disorder in childhood
  • Having gone through surgery or suffering from an injury or complex pain condition that warrants the prescribing of a pain medication
  • Family history of substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of OxyContin addiction

The signs and symptoms that one with an opioid use disorder will display will vary from individual to individual, as a number of factors (such as frequency of use and how much is being consumed) will play a role in what symptoms are exhibited. Some of the most common symptoms can include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Relationship disturbances
  • Slurred speech
  • No longer participating in activities that were enjoyed
  • Continuing to abuse OxyContin despite the onset of disturbances in functioning
  • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drug
  • Planning and attending to daily activities in a way that is centered on obtaining or using OxyContin
  • Using the substance in situations that are physically dangerous (e.g. driving while being high on OxyContin)
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home or at work
  • Engaging in regular patterns of OxyContin use

Physical symptoms:

  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Drowsiness
  • Pupil constriction

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Impairment in memory
  • Experiencing continued cravings to use OxyContin
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impairment in attention

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Apathy
  • Feeling in a state of unease (dysphoria)
  • Euphoria


Effects of OxyContin addiction

OxyContin abuse can elicit disarray within an individual’s life. All areas of one’s functioning, from social and personal to familial and occupational, can become deeply affected by the continual abuse of this substance. In addition, a person’s physical health is put at risk when the abuse of a substance is allowed to continue. Some examples of the many effects that can develop can include:

  • Disturbances within social relationships
  • Marital discord
  • Visual disturbances
  • Vital organ damage
  • Familial strife
  • Onset of new, or exacerbation of current, symptoms of other mental health conditions
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Injured veins / track marks (in those who inject the drug)
  • Decline in occupational functioning, potentially resulting in job loss and subsequent financial strain

Co-Occurring Disorders

OxyContin addiction and co-occurring disorders

When individuals are battling an opioid use disorder, they place themselves at risk for going through symptoms of other mental health conditions, too. Some of the disorders that can co-occur with opioid use disorder, according to the APA, can include:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Major depressive disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal and overdose

Effects of OxyContin withdrawal: When one has been abusing OxyContin but then puts an end to that use, he or she is susceptible to experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Examples of such symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Effects of OxyContin overdose: The longer that an individual continues to abuse OxyContin, the more likely it is that he or she will overdose on that very substance. This occurs because as an individual’s body grows more tolerant of this substance, he or she must continue to take more to obtain the same effects. As soon as an individual consumes more of the substance than his or her body is able to metabolize, an overdose can occur. Overdosing on OxyContin should be treated as a medical emergency and treatment should be obtained immediately. Signs that an individual has overdosed on OxyContin can include:

  • Seizures
  • Headache
  • Extreme confusion
  • Severe dizziness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shallow breathing
  • Highly slurred speech
  • Sudden sleepiness
  • Cold, clammy skin

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My addiction to prescription drugs was very out of hand before going to Azure Acres. I am so grateful to all of the staff that has helped me through my recovery.

– Former Patient