OxyContin Addiction and Pain Management

girl in pain using oxycontinOxyContin is a safe and effective pain-relieving medication, when it’s taken exactly as prescribed by a doctor, but people who are addicted to the drug often take it in ways that are far from safe. For example, researchers writing in the Journal of Addictive Diseases report that people who are addicted to OxyContin take an average dose of 184 milligrams of the drug each day. A standard dose of controlled-release OxyContin is typically 20 milligrams per day, according to Drugs.com. It’s a staggering jump, and it can do a significant amount of damage.

Getting control of a destructive addiction like this can be difficult, requiring months or even years of hard work and a daily determination to never use drugs again. As a result, people in recovery from this addiction may be resistant to the idea of using any kind of painkiller, even if they are in severe pain.

Helping or Harboring an Addiction?

It’s certainly reasonable for people in recovery to steer clear of painkillers. After all, these people may know exactly how the use of a drug can morph and shift into abuse of that drug. They’ve been down this path in the past. It’s important to remember, however, that uncontrolled pain is also considered a risk factor for addiction. People who are exposed to relentless pain often turn to alcohol or other drugs in order to find relief. By not addressing the pain issue, people might increase their vulnerability to a different type of addiction.

People who admit to an addictive past might also face discrimination when it comes to pain control, according to an article published in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Doctors might fear that prescriptions they write will just exacerbate the addiction issue, and they may not account for the person’s high tolerance for drugs when determining dosages. As a result, some people in recovery don’t get the help they need to control pain, even when they ask for help.

A Team Approach

When it comes to treating pain in a person in recovery from OxyContin addiction, both the doctor and the patient have key roles to play. For the patient, that role involves absolute and total honesty. The patient should provide the doctor with:

  • A complete history of the addiction
  • Clear descriptions of the pain symptoms
  • The name of the person who will pick up and administer the medication (as the person shouldn’t do this alone)
  • A summary of any relapse fears the person has

Armed with this information, the doctor should determine the best medication to use to treat the pain. In general, pain medications that act slowly, rather than forms that set to work quickly, have a lower risk of abuse and should be front-line treatments for those in recovery. Doctors should also develop a dosing schedule that’s appropriate, given the person’s tolerance for drugs, and amend that schedule if the pain isn’t under control.

Throughout this process, the patient should stay in touch with addiction professionals. By participating in counseling sessions, support group meetings and group therapy meetings, the person can outline how he/she feels about the drug use, and discuss any strategies that might be helpful in ensuring that the addiction doesn’t resurface.

At Axis, we know that recovery from OxyContin addiction can be a life-long process, and that pain management can seem like a major stumbling block for people in recovery. If you’d like to know more about healthy habits you can cultivate when the formal addiction treatment program ends, please contact us. We specialize in providing comprehensive aftercare programs for addiction.