The Basics of OxyContin Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the OxyContin rehabilitation process as well as to offer helpful resources for persons recovering from OxyContin addiction.

When beginning OxyContin rehabilitation, a physical exam is standard, along with questions about your medical history and drug use. You may also undergo testing to confirm opiate use and for other medical conditions tied to opioid abuse, including heart and liver damage. Treatment typically begins with medically supervised detoxification, which may include medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. After detox, inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation, including various behavioral therapies, followed by ongoing counseling and support complete the rehabilitation process.

Dependence on an opioid is a complex health condition that often requires long-term treatment to break the physical, mental, and psychological hold the drug has on the abuser. Detox is the most physically painful part of the process, which is why medication-assisted treatment is often recommended during detox and potentially as part of a long-term medication maintenance plan. Inpatient treatment programs may last 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the severity of the addiction. Ongoing support helps deter relapse, which can be especially dangerous following detox due to a lowered drug tolerance that may lead to an accidental overdose.

the four steps of rehab process

What Makes OxyContin Rehabilitation Difficult?

OxyContin is currently accepted for medicinal use; however, its high potential for abuse may lead to severe physical and psychological dependence, which is why it’s a Schedule II controlled substance. There are serious legal consequences for possessing OxyContin without a legitimate prescription.

According to the 2019 World Drug Report, an estimated 53 million people worldwide used opioids at least once in 2017. One-quarter of these people resided in the United States. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 3.6% of the U.S. population misused prescription pain relievers over the past year. The second most commonly used pain relievers in 2018 were products containing oxycodone, with 3.4 million people age 12 or older misusing these products.

Recovering from an opioid addiction can be difficult due to severe physical withdrawal symptoms and a lingering psychological addiction to the drug. Even when withdrawal symptoms subside, your brain remains structurally changed by opioid abuse. Without OxyContin, you may feel anxious or depressed, and your body may feel out of sync because it’s used to having the drug. Cravings for OxyContin can last for years or even a lifetime, making it difficult to overcome the compulsive urge to continue using the drug even if you’re committed to quitting.

The Unique Struggle of OxyContin Addicts


  • affects the reward system in the brain, creating euphoric feelings that increase the likelihood of addiction
  • use over long periods causes your body to build a tolerance that requires higher and/or more frequent doses for the same effect
  • creates a physical and mental dependence that includes a compulsive urge to continue using even when you’re dedicated to quitting
  • withdrawal includes severe physical symptoms that often require medication-assisted detoxification
  • can be addictive even when taken as prescribed

OxyContin Rehabilitation Statistics

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that:

  • 9,098,000 people ages 12 or older used products containing oxycodone like OxyContin in 2018.
  • 1,260,000 people ages 12 or older misused products containing oxycodone in 2018.
  • 33,301 people ages 12 or older were admitted for treatment in 2017 for oxycodone addiction.

Opiates Treatment Admissions by Gender

52.7% Male
47.3% Female

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Opioid Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are more likely to seek treatment for abuse of opiates other than heroin, including prescription pain relievers containing opioids like OxyContin. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for opiates (not including heroin) was 52.7% male and 47.3% female. While opiate addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for opiate use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 35 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who sought rehabilitation.

Opiates Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Opiates Treatment Admissions
12-17 0.4%
18-24 10.4%
25 – 34 44.9%
35 – 44 25.4%
45-54 12.1%
55-64 5.9%
65+ 0.9%

OxyContin Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

OxyContin changes your brain chemistry, and your body adapts to the drug being in your system. Taking the drug away makes your body no longer able to function in the way to which it’s become accustomed, which causes withdrawal symptoms. To complete the detoxification process safely and comfortably, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Unassisted withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, even dangerous, and leave you vulnerable to relapse.

Because OxyContin is an extended-release opiate, early withdrawal symptoms may not occur for up to 30 hours after you stop taking the drug. Once the drug starts leaving your system, early symptoms may include profuse sweating, severe tearing of the eyes, fever, runny nose, muscle aches, insomnia, anxiety, racing heart, and high blood pressure. Withdrawal should peak within 72 hours, with full withdrawal usually lasting a week or more and including new symptoms, such as stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chills, depression, and drug cravings.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Headaches
Nausea and/or vomiting
Severe tearing of the eyes
Muscle aches
Racing heart
Profuse sweating
Flu-like symptoms
General feelings of discomfort
Mood swings
Long-Term Symptoms Stomach cramps
Nausea and vomiting
Decreased appetite
Higher sensitivity to pain
Shivering and chills
Rapid heartbeat
High blood pressure

Possible complications of OxyContin withdrawal include accidental overdose

Most deaths due to opioid overdose occur in individuals who’ve recently detoxed. During withdrawal, your tolerance to the drug decreases. If you relapse, you may take the same amount you did before you detoxed, which is now going to be too much for your body to handle. Other complications of OxyContin withdrawal include aspirating on stomach contents you breathe in while vomiting, which can lead to a lung infection, and severe dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

OxyContin withdrawal may cause severe depression and suicidal thoughts

While the physical symptoms of withdrawal aren’t usually dangerous, the psychological impact of withdrawal can be potentially life-threatening. Besides flu-like symptoms, insomnia, muscle aches, and nausea, some people also experience severe depression during OxyContin withdrawal. Sometimes this depression can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors that could put the person at extreme risk.

Babies born to opioid-addicted mothers suffer withdrawal symptoms

Because oxycodone is an opioid-based pain reliever, pregnant women addicted to OxyContin put their unborn baby at risk of severe, potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Called neonatal abstinence syndrome, newborn babies may experience irritability, digestive issues, vomiting, dehydration, poor appetite, rapid breathing, trembling, and seizures because they’re no longer receiving the drug outside of the womb. In severe cases, the infant may need medication to treat withdrawal symptoms while remaining in the hospital for weeks and sometimes months after birth.

OxyContin Detoxification Medications

Several medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have been used to successfully help addicts through OxyContin detoxification. Common medications used in medication-assisted treatment include clonidine, methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Clonidine and other medications may be used to treat specific withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and insomnia. Methadone may ease withdrawal symptoms and may be used as a long-term maintenance medication. Buprenorphine products, generally Suboxone or Subutex, may help with withdrawal and shorten the length of detox. Naltrexone products, including monthly shots of Vivitrol, act as opioid blocking agents used to prevent relapse.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on OxyContin addiction.

Treatment for OxyContin Addiction

Counseling and different forms of behavioral therapies are offered in conjunction with medication-assisted treatment for the comprehensive treatment of OxyContin addiction. Behavioral therapies may take place in inpatient and/or outpatient settings and address the numerous physical, psychological, and social aspects of opioid addiction.

Medication-assisted therapy can help ease withdrawal symptoms and may also reverse some of the changes in the brain caused by opioid addiction. It can also enhance counseling and behavioral therapies by helping to normalize brain chemistry and body functions, relieve cravings, block the euphoric effects of opioids, and sustain recovery.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, options such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

OxyContin Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Inpatient Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a nonhospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment The extensive services of an inpatient program, but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:


Days Per Week:


Outpatient Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:



Days Per Week:


Outpatient Support Groups Support groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired  

Hours Per Day:



Days Per Week:


Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and, thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

Medication-assisted therapy may be used at different times throughout treatment and recovery for OxyContin addiction. It generally begins during detoxification when medical professionals prescribe medications to help ease withdrawal. Some of these medications make the brain believe it’s still receiving OxyContin to prevent or reduce the severity of withdrawal. Other medications may be used long-term to help prevent relapse and sustain recovery.

Behavioral Therapies for OxyContin Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Further reading:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) provides therapeutic tools and coping strategies to manage triggers of oxycodone abuse, including recognizing, avoiding, and coping with these triggers. CBT can also increase a person’s awareness of how feelings, thoughts, and actions impact recovery.
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy


Further reading:

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) is a specific type of CBT that focuses on changing irrational beliefs that lead to negative consequences. REBT helps individuals develop rational beliefs that positively impact their thought, behavioral, and emotional responses to reduce stress and promote a healthier quality of life.
Contingency Management Interventions


Further reading:

Contingency Management (CM) is a behavioral treatment that includes motivational incentives designed to encourage healthy behaviors. By providing positive reinforcement and goal-oriented rewards, such as privileges, prizes, and monetary awards, many participants succeed in abstaining from opioids, staying in treatment, and attending counseling.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for OxyContin Addiction
Type of Medication for Treatment Definition
Agonist Drugs


Further reading:

Common agonist drugs include methadone, which are used to replace OxyContin and decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Methadone works in the same areas of the brain as opioids but without the euphoric feeling. Agonist drugs may also be used for long-term maintenance to further assist with recovery and prevent relapse.
Partial Agonist Drugs


Further reading:

Suboxone or Subutex contains buprenorphine, a partial agonist drug that decreases withdrawal symptoms and cravings while potentially shortening the length of detox. It also targets the same areas of the brain as opioids without providing a high feeling and may be used with naloxone to help prevent future abuse and dependence.
Antagonist Drugs


Further reading:

Drugs containing naltrexone, including Vivitrol, are antagonist drugs. These drugs are essentially the chemical opposite of opioids and help prevent relapse by dulling the euphoric effects you’d normally experience from taking opioids. Long-term use may also help restore chemical balance in the brain.
Medications for Specific Symptoms


Further reading:

Clonidine may be administered to reduce cramping, muscle aches, and anxiety. Other prescription and/or over-the-counter medications may be recommended to treat vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, depression, and other specific withdrawal symptoms.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for OxyContin Addiction

When used as prescribed, OxyContin can safely and effectively manage chronic pain. Because it’s an opioid-based narcotic pain reliever, it can be highly addictive, especially when not taken as directed. Long-term use can cause you to develop a tolerance that leads you to take higher and/or more frequent doses to receive the same effects. Tolerance may then lead to dependence and addiction.

A reputable rehabilitation center that offers a customized individual approach to treatment that includes medical-assisted detoxification, counseling, and various behavioral therapies can help you overcome your addiction. Successfully completing a rehabilitation program may require inpatient and/or outpatient treatment and long-term medication-assistance maintenance to prevent relapse. To ensure lasting recovery from OxyContin addiction, treatment should also include continuing care services.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.