Tag Archives: Opiate Withdrawal

Pain Relief At A Heavy Price: The Effects Of Oxycodone

Effects Of OxycodoneOxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller, most often prescribed by doctors to alleviate moderate to severe pain. It is a very effective narcotic commonly used after surgery or to treat other extremely painful injuries. One of the main characteristics of oxycodone is its highly addictive properties.

Developed in 1916 by a group of German scientists, oxycodone was originally intended to replace heroin, which was considered at that time (and still is) dangerously addictive. In 1996, Perdue Pharma introduced OxyContin which contained a higher concentration of the drug formulated in an extended time release capsule. Touted as the 12-hour painkiller, the press release from Perdue stated, one tablet in the morning and one before bed would provide “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.” OxyContin immediately took off in terms of sales.

A Wide Range Of Disturbing Side Effects

While OxyContin was certainly promoted as a convenient source of pain relief, and physicians began to widely prescribe it because of its efficacy, few understood the risks with it and its high potential for addiction. And, even fewer realized the unintended consequences of addicts crushing OxyContin capsules and snorting or injecting them to obtain a euphoric, opium-based high.

Along with addiction, there are many other unwanted side effects of the drug:

  • Emotional Instability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Light Headedness
  • Paranoia
  • Risk of Violence
  • Difficulties Sleeping
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood Changes
  • Agitation
  • Memory Loss
  • Confusion

Overcoming OxyContin Addiction

One of the other very unfortunate aspects of OxyContin addiction is the withdrawal symptoms that occur when the drug is stopped. Symptoms of withdrawal can range from nausea, diarrhea and chills to serious complications, such as heart palpitations and seizures. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to be longer with opioid painkillers like oxycodone and can actually occur for weeks and even months, depending on the length of time the individual abused the drug.

Because symptoms can be both unpredictable and serious, professional detox and rehabilitation provide the best chance for overcoming withdrawal and achieving long-term recovery. For some, medication can be beneficial for overcoming the symptoms of withdrawal. When this is combined with other treatments, including individual and group therapy, yoga, meditation and a 12-step program, the individual can work on recovery of the mind, body and spirit.

What Else Is Being Done

Because an increasing number of Americans are becoming addicted to this dangerous medication, there have been recent steps to curb the problem. In 2013, the FDA released labeling guidelines for long acting and extended release opioids that forced the manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, to state that the drug is for:

“pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment"

It is no longer recommended for moderate pain. The manufacturer also reformulated the medication to make it more difficult to crush or dissolve.

Still, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 11 million people in the United States consume oxycodone in a non-medical way annually. And sadly, a significant percentage of these individuals will end up in the emergency room or will die from overdose.

Get Help Now, Call Today

Because of the severity of the addiction to OxyContin and the painful side effects, the best chance for recovery is with professional treatment. Don’t wait for your addiction to get worse. Call now for immediate help, one of our specialized counselors will be there for you.

At Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we offer to those who are ready to take the next step to heal. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol treatment, opiate detox treatment, and dual diagnosis addiction treatment. At Pathways Recovery, we also offer a holistic treatment plan for those who might need a little more assistance in our comfortable and safe drug and alcohol detox center located in a quite and friendly residential area.Contact us today for any questions or to speak with a highly trained member of our staff. The first step starts with a call today for a better tomorrow.

How COWS Can Help Assess Opiate Withdrawals

Pathways-- How COWS Can Help Assess Opiate Withdrawals -- 08-23-16Clinical Opiate Withdrawals Scale (COWS)

The clinical opiate withdrawals scale (COWS) is a pen and paper instrument that rates eleven common opiate withdrawals symptoms.  Once the score for all of the opiate withdrawals symptoms are summed up, the counselor or physician can determine the level of physical dependence on opioids as well as determine what stage of opiate withdrawals the client is in.  For each of the symptoms that are assessed, the rating is based solely on the relationship to the opiate withdrawals.  For instance, if the client was jogging prior to the test then their heart rate must be given a chance to return to normal prior to the test.

Clinical Test For Rating Withdrawal Intensity

Here is a brief summary of the COWS test for opiate withdrawal:

  1. Resting Pulse Rate: a score of 0 is given for a heart rate 80 or below while a score of 4 is given for a heart rate above 120.  There are various scores for heart rates in between these readings which can indicate the severity of the opiate withdrawals.
  2. GI Upset: a score of 0 is given if there have been no symptoms of GI upset over the last ½ hour while a score of 5 is given if there have been  multiple episodes of diarrhea and vomiting over the last ½ hour.  Again there are scores provided for GI symptoms in between these.
  3. Sweating (over the last ½ hour not caused by room temperature or patient activity): a zero is given is there is no reports of chills or flushing while a 4 is given if the opiate withdrawals are causing sweat to stream off of the face.  Other scores for symptoms in between these are also provided.
  4. Tremor: with outstretched hands if the client shows no indication of tremors or shakes then a score of 0 is given.  If the opiate withdrawals are causing gross tremors or muscle twitching then a score of 4 is given.  Other scores are given for symptoms in between.
  5. Restlessness: if during the assessment the client is able to sit still, then a score of 0 is give.  On the other hand, if the client is unable to sit still for more than a few seconds then they are given a score of 5 with other scores in between these based on their level of opiate withdrawals.
  6. Yawning: if during the assessment the patient doesn’t yawn, then a score of 0 is appropriate.  If, however they are yawning several times per minute then a score of 4 is given with other scores for symptoms in between.
  7. Pupil Size: 0 is given if the client’s pupils are pinned or normal for the ambient light.  A score of 5 is given if the opiate withdrawals are causing the client’s pupils to be so dilated that only the rim of the iris is visible.
  8. Anxiety or Irritability: 0 for none and 4 if the patient is so irritable or anxious that participation in the opiate withdrawals assessment is difficult.
  9. Bone or Joint Aches: if there is additional pain which wasn’t present prior to the onset of opiate withdrawals, the client is given a score of 4 if they are rubbing joints or muscles and unable to sit still because of the additional discomfort.  A score of 0 is given for no additional pain.  There are scores in between based on symptoms.
  10. Gooseflesh Skin: if the client’s skin is smooth, then a score of 0 is given.  If on the other hand, the opiate withdrawals are causing the client’s skin to have goose bumps and their arm hair is standing up, then a score of 5 is appropriate.
  11. Runny Nose or Tearing: if the client doesn’t have a cold or allergies, but their nose is constantly running or there are tears running down their cheeks then they warrant a score of 4 for their opiate withdrawals.  0 is appropriate if these symptoms are not present.

Once each criteria has been assessed then all of the scores are summed up to get a total.  The following scale is then applied to determine the level of opiate withdrawals: 5-12 mild; 13-24 moderate; 25-36 moderately severe; more than 36 severe opiate withdrawals.

The COWS assessment should be given only by a trained professional, but if you believe you or a loved one is undergoing opiate withdrawals then it would be beneficial to know the signs to look for. 

Get a Downloadable Version of the COWS Test HERE >>