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My daughter has come to my husband and I for help getting off oxycontin pills. She has a son 18 months old and is enrolled in college and will start in August. She expressed that she didn’t want to lose those two things. Is there a risk in withdrawal from this drug and could she do an outpatient recovery without harming herself?

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Oxycontin is one of the powerful pain killers usually prescribe after surgery or some other severe medical treatment or sickness. It’s related to the opioids chemicals and is, in reality, a synthetic form of heroin. Consequently, it’s extremely addicting and, once addicted, very difficult to stop using.

What makes it so difficult to stop using this type of drug is it’s side effects during the withdrawal period. In addition to powerful cravings for the drug, people experience awful physical symptoms once they stop the drug. I am not an MD and do not have the expertise to know if sudden withdrawal is life threatening but, my guess is that it is not. However, the level of craving, depression, anger, nausea and other symptoms are overwhelming. That is why it is strongly advised that people who truly want to end their addiction, get medical help to do so.

One approach to withdrawal from this drug is going for outpatient treatment. This means that, in all probability, your daughter will be prescribed either Methadone or Buprenorphine, either of which calms the brain cells so that no cravings are experienced during withdrawal form Oxycontin. This is somewhat controversial because Methadone is a form of opioids that replaces the Oxycontin but without withdrawal symptoms. However, it is not easy to then withdraw from Methadone, and therein is the controversy.

Another approach is to go for inpatient treatment where non opioids medications are used to calm the symptoms while the patient withdraws. This is usually the start of a very intensive type of addiction treatment. After the hospital withdrawal process is completed, often after four days, the patient is referred to drug treatment center where they live 24 hours a day and be part of a community of patients and professional staff who work together towards full recovery.

What does this mean for your daughter?

It means that she will have to postpone school until she is recovered enough for school and motherhood. Without treatment she cannot function as a mother or student. Based on my experience with people who had this addiction, it sometimes takes a long time to get them to admit that they need this intensive type of treatment.

This a very serious condition that, without treatment, will lead to more drug abuse and, in the end, the danger that she could have her baby taken away. I have seen it happen before. She needs to admit she needs long term help and that this is not the right time for school.

There are many treatment centers that can be found on the Internet. I suggest you look them up and call to learn more about them. If possible, your daughter should fully participate in this process.

I want to wish all of you lots of good luck. People do recover from this and I can tell you that from direct experience.

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