Treatment for OxyContin Addiction: Detox, Medications, Therapy, Rehab

Dr. Alan Lucks
Calendar icon Last Updated: 03/25/2021

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Treatment for OxyContin addiction differs depending on a number of factors, including your drug and family history with drugs.

Inpatient rehab for OxyContin addiction is safer than trying to recover by yourself. As an inpatient, you will have supervision and monitoring if any side effects or problems develop. Detox is a phase of treatment that may be difficult for you, and it is less dangerous as an inpatient. You should not attempt it without supervision.

When choosing the right OxyContin rehab center, you should evaluate many factors. Does the center have a comprehensive program to treat your physical and emotional needs with qualified and knowledgeable staff? Do they have a good track record with satisfied patients? Do you feel comfortable when visiting the facility? These are all elements that you should consider when choosing an OxyContin rehab center.

OxyContin Detox

After you have an initial evaluation, detoxification is the next step in your recovery, which involves eliminating OxyContin from your system. The process of detoxification will vary depending on how long, how much, and how often, you have been consuming OxyContin. You will probably experience some symptoms of withdrawal, so most patients opt for inpatient detox rather than going it alone.

During detox you’re usually still given OxyContin in smaller doses to minimize your discomfort. Going cold turkey will enhance withdrawal symptoms, so slowly tapering off OxyContin will make the process easier for you.

Some of the side effects of OxyContin withdrawal include:

  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • An increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperthermia

Medications Used in OxyContin Addiction Treatment

You can take prescribed medications to decrease the effects of OxyContin withdrawal. If you have severe withdrawal symptoms, medications are recommended.


Methadone is the most commonly used inpatient medicine prescribed for OxyContin withdrawal symptoms. Federal law limits the use of methadone to specially licensed programs except for certain hospitalized patients.

Methadone reverses your withdrawal symptoms and dosage is slowly tapered down.


Clonidine (Catapres) was initially approved as a treatment for hypertension, but it is also used for OxyContin detoxification. It is not FDA approved for OxyContin withdrawal, but it is used “off-label” for this treatment. “Off-label” means the medicine has been approved for a specific use, but physicians may prescribe it for other diseases.

Many practitioners prescribe Catapres because it has no misuse potential and no special licensing is required. However, Catapres does not seem to be as effective as methadone.


Naltrexone is useful when treating OxyContin addiction as it blocks the euphoric effect of OxyContin and decreases cravings, making it easier for you to stop misusing it.


Buprenorphine is combined with Narcan to form the drug Suboxone. This pill is meant for you if you have already started medication treatment. It is not a first-line drug, but your provider may prescribe it eventually. It has gained enormous popularity since it can be prescribed in a doctor’s office.


An indispensable part of rehab for OxyContin addiction is counseling.

This is a form of talk therapy where you speak either in an individual or group setting. If you are having an individual session, your therapist is trained to teach you behavioral skills that will help modify your drug abuse. When you are in a group, you will find that the other participants are extremely helpful. Other individuals in the group have gone through similar experiences, and a bond often forms between the participants. A peer-to-peer dialogue cements very long relationships.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Various types of counseling are available to you when seeking treatment for OxyContin addictions, and one of the most popular is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). You will learn how to analyze situations and deal with them in a more beneficial manner. It is a process that allows you to cope with real-life and present situations and solve many problems by altering your thinking. You will identify problems sooner and develop a better solution than you have in the past.

12-Step Programs

A 12-step program is a form of therapy that was initially instituted by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It asks you to accept the fact that you cannot solve your OxyContin misuse problem on your own and you need help. A very strong peer-to-peer mentoring program is available and meetings are regularly scheduled for group support.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy is a technique that your therapist uses in an attempt to have you continue counseling. Feedback is emphasized in a nonthreatening manner.

Contingency Management

Contingency management uses incentives to achieve your desired goals. These incentives may be small gifts to reinforce beneficial behavior.

Family Counseling

Family counseling will allow you and your relatives to discuss lifestyle conflicts and set boundaries.

Aftercare for OxyContin Treatment

When you finish rehab, it is important to continue some of the positive aspects of your OxyContin addiction treatment. Counseling and regular medical checkups should continue.

If you have other medical problems, in addition to your OxyContin misuse, you must face those challenges or your OxyContin addiction may reappear. Depression and anxiety are common issues that may also need attention.

What is OxyContin?

Oxycodone (OxyContin) is an opioid and a Schedule II controlled substance prescribed for pain control.1 A Schedule II substance is defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a drug that has a high potential for misuse and potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.2 The DEA also states that “these drugs are also considered dangerous.”3 Purdue Pharma, which is the manufacturer of OxyContin, states “OxyContin exposes patients and other users to the risks of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdoses and death.”4

You should not mix OxyContin with certain medications, and it should be avoided in some instances. OxyContin has to be used with extreme caution if you suffer from respiratory diseases. If you have asthma, be very careful with OxyContin use.

OxyContin is prescribed for you when other drugs have not controlled your pain. This drug is not meant as an initial treatment for pain, but to be used when other analgesics have not been effective. Other opioids in the OxyContin family are fentanyl and the illicit drug heroin. These are powerful medicines, and their use can have serious consequences.

The oral administration of OxyContin has 1.5 times the effect of an equal dose of morphine.5 When OxyContin is discussed in the same sentences as morphine and heroin, you probably realize that OxyContin use is not a trivial matter.

More than 16 million oxycodone prescriptions were filled in the United States in 2018 attesting to its demand.6 OxyContin can also produce euphoria, so it is often misused even when no pain is present.7 Although the precise mechanism of action is not known, OxyContin binds to specific receptors in your brain and spinal cord, thus blocking pain signals and decreasing discomfort.8

What Factors Contribute to Your OxyContin Addiction?

Although OxyContin is an extended-release medicine, tolerance happens because you need increasingly higher amounts of the medicine to achieve the same results. Your brain cells become less responsive to OxyContin over time, especially if you take excessive amounts. Taking more OxyContin than prescribed by your health care provider will eventually be problematic.

If you or a family member has a prior history of addiction, you may also be more prone to misuse OxyContin.9 It is believed that genetic factors play some part in opioid addiction.10

If you have a sports injury, long-term discomfort is a possibility, and providers may give you pain medicine over a prolonged period. This may also create tolerance and the consumption of additional doses of OxyContin.

Certain mental health conditions may make you more likely to experience OxyContin misuse. If you experience depression and anxiety, your risk of OxyContin misuse is higher.12

Environmental factors contribute to OxyContin misuse such as if family members or friends use this drug. When people around you misuse a substance, it may seem natural for you to follow the same behavior.

Extended-release opioids, such as OxyContin, have a greater risk of misuse than immediate-release opioids.13 With extended-release OxyContin, larger amounts of the medicine are released with each dose, causing a problem if it is taken too early.

Signs and Symptoms of an OxyContin Addiction

Although you may use the terminology “addiction” (the phrase that most people understand), the correct name is opioid use disorder (OUD).14

You may have OUD if you:

  • Engage in dangerous behavior
  • Have social and relationship problems
  • Lack responsibility
  • Have withdrawal symptoms if you try to decrease the medicine
  • Develop tolerance to the drug
  • Use larger amounts of the medicine than prescribed
  • Cannot control your drug use
  • Spend a lot of time using the drug
  • Develop psychological or health problems due to drug use
  • Give up activities that you once enjoyed
  • Crave the drug

Having these symptoms should be enough for you to seek OxyContin addiction treatment. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a major adverse event for you to realize that help is necessary. At that point, you will realize that treatment for this disorder is necessary.

Indications that not only are you suffering from OUD but also that you need immediate medical care are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abnormalities of your heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Episodic fainting
  • Uncontrollable shaking

Understanding OxyContin and its treatment will be beneficial to you on your journey to recovery.

Call 800-926-9037 (Info iconWho Answers?) to speak with a treatment specialist or to find a rehab center.


  1. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Controlled substance schedules.
  2. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug scheduling.
  3. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug Scheduling.
  4. OxyContin® (oxycodone HCl). (n.d.). Extended-Release Tablets: Official site for patients & CAREGIVERS. (n.d.).
  5. Stanford School of Medicine. (2013). Opioid Conversion.
  6. (n.d.). Oxycodone drug statistics, United States, 2008-2018.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Opioids.
  8. U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). OxyContin.
  9. MedLinePlus. (2017). Opioid addiction.
  10. MedLinePlus. (2017). Opioid addiction.
  11. Levran, O., Yuferov, V., Kreek, M.J. (2012). The genetics of the opioid system and specific drug addictions. Hum Genet, 131(6):823-42.
  12. (n.d.). Oxycodone.
  13. OxyContin® (oxycodone HCl). (n.d.). OxyContin extended-release tablets prescribing information.
  14. Hasin, D.S., O’Brien, C.P., Auriacombe, M., et al. (2013). DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorders: Recommendations and rationale. Am J Psychiatry, 170(8), 1834-851.
Pen iconAuthor
Dr. Alan Lucks
Dr. Alan Lucks, MD
Retired Physician, Writer
Dr. Alan Lucks is a specialist in Internal Medicine with over 30 years of clinical practice serving the New York community. After retirement, he has devoted his time to writing and painting in an attempt to broaden his artistic skills.