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How Long Does It Take To Get Addicted To Oxycodone?

People who develop an addiction to prescription painkillers increase their risk of becoming a heroin addict. More than 80% of persons who have been addicted to heroin report misusing opiate prescriptions earlier in life.

However, only about three percent of people who take prescription painkillers will ever become addicted, let alone switch to heroin. Nobody knows precisely why some people become addicted to opiates while others do not. Some of it is genetic, some of it is social conditions, and some of it has to do with any underlying emotional or mental disorders.

Some people can use Oxycodone as prescribed for weeks and not develop a physical dependence nor an addiction. Other people report feeling symptoms of withdrawal and addiction after only a week.

So what gives? How long does it take to become addicted to Oxycodone?

There is no definitive answer. It could take weeks, months, or years to develop an addiction. However, developing tolerance and physical dependence to oxycodone is a different matter.

Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction

Sometimes, these two terms are often used interchangeably when talking about substance abuse. They are not the same though. It is essential to understand the difference to better understand withdrawals, treatment programs, and sustained recovery.

It is important to understand that someone can be addicted to drugs or alcohol without demonstrating a physical dependence to that substance.

Drug Tolerance

Many people are familiar with tolerance. Tolerance can be relatively benign, like when someone needs a large coffee instead of a small cup to feel awake from the caffeine. Many people are familiar with alcohol tolerance when you realize it takes two glasses of wine instead of just one to feel “tipsy.”

Tolerance occurs when a person needs a higher dose of any drug (caffeine, alcohol, opiates, etc.) to achieve the same effect that a lower dose used to produce. Tolerance builds up over a period of time with repeated use.

Tolerance to opiates occurs rapidly because of the euphoric effects of the drug. Oxycodone tolerance develops at a cellular level. It is a precursor to dependence and addiction.

Oxycodone Dependence

Dependence occurs when a person or organism can function normally only when the drug is present. Drug dependence occurs when neurons adapt to repeated exposure to drugs, in this case oxycodone, and fail to operate normally when that substance is not being introduced to the brain. The tell-tale sign of dependence is the presence of withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms occur only when someone who has developed drug dependence hasn’t ingested the drug for an extended time, somewhere between 12 and 48 hours after last use. Withdrawal symptoms from oxycodone include:

  • Increased muscle pain
  • Muscle fatigue
  • General fatigue
  • Cramping in the digestive tract
  • Intense dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Oxycodone dependency and withdrawal are serious matters. While the actual withdrawals from opiates won’t kill you, there are reports of people dying from the symptoms of withdrawal. If you or a loved one are suffering from oxycodone dependency, you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to go through it alone. The likelihood of staying clean is much, much higher with medical supervision and treatment during the withdrawal period.

Oxycodone Addiction

Addiction is not the same as tolerance or dependence. According to the American Psychiatry Association, “addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.”

Addiction is difficult to understand for anyone who has never been addicted. It is nearly impossible to know how someone could continue using oxycodone despite the mountains of evidence that is obvious: this person has a problem. For someone addicted to opioids, it can seem like there is no consequence terrible enough to make them want to quit.

Addiction is a chronic disease. It doesn’t matter if someone has been clean from oxycodone for a day, a week, a year, or a decade. The disease of addiction ensures that developing new coping mechanisms, healthy living habits, and a loving support system is essential to overcoming a SUD (substance use disorder).

The right treatment program and plan can be the difference between a long life free of the pain of addiction and a fulfilling, happy life without the need to use. Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are the most effective ways to a sustained recovery from oxycodone addiction. They provide accountability, education, master’s level clinicians and addiction specialists, group therapy, counseling, testing, support, and introduction to 12-step meetings.

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