The distinction between the terms "dependency" and "addiction" has been blurred over the years. These two words are sometimes used synonymously but there is a difference. OxyContin dependency and OxyContin addiction are serious matters, but both can be treated. Many experts say that the difference between the two lies in the behaviors and physiology that surround the use of this drug.
OxyContin is a powerful prescription narcotic that is often prescribed for serious or chronic pain relief. People can become physically and/or psychologically hooked on this medication if they misuse or abuse it. People who take it for legitimate pain are also at risk for this. The medication has garnered a lot of negative attention over the years since it was introduced in the mid 1990s. Problems surrounding OxyContin have included dependence, abuse, addiction, overdose and fatal deaths. These problems have contributed to various types of crime and social issues.
A Legitimate Medical Use of OxyContin May Cause Physical Dependence
The term "OxyContin dependency" usually refers to a condition that develops when a person is physically dependent on medication they need for pain. To contrast, "OxyContin addiction" refers to a condition that has progressed beyond dependency. Opiate addiction includes a physical as well as psychological dependence. There are several medications that can cause a physical dependence without progressing to addiction. These include some antihistamines and steroids. Patients may become physically dependent but once therapy has ended, they don't have a reason to keep taking the drug because they get nothing out of it.
People who are dependent on OxyContin will develop opiate withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. This can happen also when use is gradually lessened. For example, a patient who has cancer and has been on long-term OxyContin therapy will experience physical and psychological distress if they don't take their medication. This is a physiological process that stems from the use of opioids for chronic pain relief. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, inability to concentrate, anxiety, sleep disturbances and depression. A patient may also experience intense physical cravings and a return of pain.
Consuming Thoughts and Behaviors Characterize OxyContin Addiction
OxyContin addiction is typically viewed as a behavioral syndrome characterized by an obsession with getting or taking the drug. These thoughts become consuming for the individual and get in the way of a person's life. Consequences, whether they be health-related, criminal or social, often have no bearing on an individual who is opiate addicted. Many of these people become dominated by thoughts of getting high or experiencing euphoria or sedation. People who are addicted to OxyContin may try to stop taking the drug but are often overwhelmed by powerful, even dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.
Both OxyContin dependence and addiction can be treated successfully. A person who becomes dependent may have their use tapered by a physician. A doctor may then decide to switch the person's medication. More serious cases of dependence may benefit from OxyContin treatment through detox and/or rehab. People who are addicted can be safely detoxed in a medical setting to avoid a serious outcome.