Oxycontin
and Anxiety

What is OxyContin?

OxyContin, also known as Oxycodone, is an opioid that is prescribed to treat extreme pain. If you take OxyContin according to a doctor’s instructions, only minimal side effects should occur. The true issue lies in the abuse or non-prescription use of OxyContin. Not only can the use of OxyContin lead to physical and mental health problems.

What is the Difference Between OxyContin and Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opiate agonist. It is an active ingredient in many different narcotic pain medications. These medications include Percocet, Percodan, and OxyContin. OxyContin is a specific brand name for a medication in the opioid class. It contains an extended-release version of oxycodone.

This article discusses the links between OxyContin and anxiety. It will also discuss a dual diagnosis during addiction treatment where a rehab facility treats both OxyContin and anxiety.

The Dangers of OxyContin

The opioid epidemic in the United States has become worse in the last ten years. Despite this, oxycodone is still prescribed as a prescription painkiller. For over half of all opioids prescribed in the United States, they are to people with anxiety or mood disorders.1 This might be because opioids can help to can alleviate mental discomfort along with physical pain, but oxycodone is not approved for the treatment of anxiety by the FDA.

Oxycodone is Highly Addictive

Although oxycodone may feel like a quick fix for anxiety, it is extremely addictive. Some people can use it as they are prescribed and then stop, but many cannot. Oxycodone is extremely addictive and long-term abuse can end in death. After addiction begins, misuse and dependence can lead to medical complications, legal issues, and even overdose. Those who take oxycodone regularly with pre-existing anxiety symptoms may see their anxiety get worse over time.

Does OxyContin Cause Anxiety?

Although oxycodone use and abuse can cause anxiety as a side effect, research has also revealed that people with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop an opiate use disorder. This means that although some people self-medicate their anxiety disorders with oxycodone or OxyContin, they may also struggle with drug addiction due to anxiety. These two problems can come together to create a dual diagnosis and a vicious cycle.

Anxiety Attacks Along With Oxycodone Use

Although anxiety attacks can occur in many contexts, they are a specific feature of panic disorder. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that affects over 8 million adults in the United States. Anxiety attacks are commonly known as panic attacks and are an intense feeling of anxiety that comes on suddenly. Panic attacks often make you feel as though you are dying or having a heart attack.

Anxiety attacks send over one million people to the emergency room each year. Substance-induced anxiety is the root of many of these visits. Not only does substance abuse trigger general anxiety, but opioids can trigger anxiety attacks. This is because disrupting the function of natural opioids contributes to anxiety or panic disorder.

Combining OxyContin with Other Medication

Benzodiazepines enhance the high from opioids, such as oxycodone. If you are addicted to oxycodone, then you likely developed a tolerance.

With over 80 million people being prescribed opioid prescriptions in 2014, 30 million of those people received benzodiazepine prescriptions. Additionally, one in three overdose deaths involved these two classes of drugs being used together. This is alarming because these drugs can cause many interactions.

The combination of oxycodone and benzodiazepines can lead to two primary, and possibly fatal, problems:

Depressed breathing 

Enhanced sedation 

Additionally, fatal interaction has been found with the following antidepressants:

Isocarboxazid 

Phenelzine 

Rasagiline 

Selegiline 

Tranylcypromine 

Effexor 

Citalopram (also known as Celexa) 

Zoloft (also known as Sertaline) 

Trazadone 

Prozac

Oxycodone Withdrawal

Withdrawal occurs when stopping the use of a substance after dependence has occurred. Dependence is when the body has adapted to having the substance present. Physical and mental symptoms occur after stopping or reducing the intake of Oxycodone and can include craving oxycodone, depression, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting.

Developing Tolerance

As the brain becomes reliant on the regular use of opioid drugs, it produces less of the natural anxiety-reducing chemicals. This means that you develop a tolerance. It also means that Oxycodone loses its power to make you feel better.

OxyContin and Anxiety as a Dual Diagnosis

Even if anxiety does not exist before Oxycodone use begins, it can develop outside of addiction. It may not even be a symptom of drug use or withdrawal, but can occur separately. This is known as Dual Diagnosis. Dual Diagnosis means you have two disorders occurring at the same time, such as a substance use disorder, as well as an anxiety disorder. This dual diagnosis requires a treatment that targets both issues at once. If you leave one untreated then they will both most likely reappear in the future.

Treating a Dual Diagnosis

Although it is complex to treat a dual diagnosis of anxiety and Oxycodone use, there are many different treatment options. The first step in treating a dual diagnosis is an assessment by a professional. Then you can work with your therapist or counselor to create a plan. Many different treatment methods can benefit different people. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one method that is used to treat a dual diagnosis.

Integrated Treatment

Integrated treatment is also known as inpatient rehab. Integrated treatment, it can be easier to visit and live at the same location for treatment for both oxycodone addiction, as well as anxiety. Going through inpatient treatment allows you to have daily check-ins, and have your counselors make changes to your treatment plan as needed. This form of treatment provides consistent care, accountability, as well as compassion to move towards recovery.


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