Nearly two million Americans either abused or claimed dependency on one type of prescription opioid according to a recent study, and as many as 25 percent of Americans who have used a doctor-prescribed opioid may exhibit addictive-use behaviors. The highly addictive nature of oxycodone, coupled with its wide availability either through prescription or illegal channels, create the perfect conditions for an enduring addiction problem.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a prescription opioid that has been used since the middle of the 20th century to treat moderate to severe pain. It is a synthetic drug derived from the opium poppy plant. You can find oxycodone in the following brand-name drugs: Oxycontin (includes both immediate and extended-release formulations), Percodan (combines oxycodone and aspirin), and Percocet and Vicodin (combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen).
Oxycodone falls into the same category of narcotic pain relievers as morphine and fentanyl. All these substances cause intense euphoria in users that take the drugs, making them dangerously addictive. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), nearly 1.9 million people in the U.S. have taken oxycodone for nonmedical purposes. In addition, those that become addicted to oxycodone are far more likely to start using heroin, since this street substance is often cheaper and easier to obtain than the prescription drug.
Oxycodone is categorized as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which indicates the substance has a serious risk of misuse and dependency. Despite this status, it continues to be widely prescribed across the country. Even those that take the drug as directed have the potential to develop a dependency, creating the need for careful monitoring by physicians prescribing it.
OXYCODONE’S EFFECT ON THE BODY
The immediate effects of oxycodone may seem pleasant, leading to repeated use and eventual abuse in some situations. Those effects might include:
- Relief from physical pain
- Euphoria due to dopamine flooding the brain after use
- Mental and physical relaxation
Not all the side effects of oxycodone use are pleasant, however. The following can also occur after using this substance:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness, drifting from sleep to consciousness
- Disorientation and confusion
- Restlessness, agitation, irritability
- Slowed respiration and difficulty breathing
- Depression and anxiety
The intensity of the effects will vary based on the amount of oxycodone taken and the way in which it is consumed. To increase the “high,” some users will crush the tablets and snort them or dissolve them in liquid, so they can be injected directly into the bloodstream.
SIGNS OF OXYCODONE ABUSE AND DEPENDENCY
When oxycodone use turns to abuse and dependency, other symptoms might develop:
- Needing higher amounts of the drug to get the same effects (tolerance)
- Substantial mood swings or increased depression and anxiety
- Hiding use of the drug from others
- Spending more time obtaining, using and recovering from the drug
- Forging prescriptions, shopping doctors for additional prescriptions
- Continued use despite personal, professional, legal and financial problems
- Neglecting work, school or home responsibilities
- Spending more time alone
- Loss of interest in activities, friends or family
People that have been abusing oxycodone may find they experience very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using it. Supervised detox often needs to be the first step before a treatment program can begin.
LONG-TERM DAMAGE FROM OXYCODONE ABUSE
If someone uses oxycodone over an extended period, the substance can take a significant toll on the body. Long-term damage might include:
- Failure of major organs like the heart, liver and kidneys
- Brain damage and seizures
- Reduced blood pressure
- Heart infection, known as endocarditis
- Decreased breathing and breathing irregularities
- Vein diseases and damaged vessels
People that abuse drugs that have a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen are at increased risk of liver damage, due to the effects of excessive acetaminophen use on this organ. Drinking alcohol while using oxycodone can also increase the problem.
THE DANGERS OF OXYCODONE WITHDRAWAL
When someone is addicted to oxycodone, stopping the drug could result in uncomfortable and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like the following:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea and vomiting
- Shaking and muscle weakness
- Flu-like symptoms including aches, fever and chills
- Excessive sweating
- Restlessness, agitation and sleeplessness
- Suicidal thoughts and ideations
WHY YOU NEED A SUPERVISED OXYCODONE DETOX
As a highly-addictive substance with critical and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, if you use or abuse oxycodone, you will require a supervised detox to ensure your success. Since oxycodone directly binds to opioid receptors in your central nervous system, you will likely find that simply “deciding to quit” will not work. If you attempt to detox on your own, you may quickly return to using due to the painful and serious symptoms of withdrawal. You may feel even more depressed after this cycle which could lead to a deepened dependency.
You may have gone from prescription to addiction without ever having decided to use. Serenity Oaks Wellness Center knows you want to get better and we understand the fierce grip of addiction and the pain it causes. Our staff of kind, professional and trained counselors have a single goal — to give you back control of your life. Our compassionate and judgment-free environment understands that and provides not only quality, comprehensive medical supervision, but end-to-end psychological counseling to help you recognize the path to addiction and stay on the road to sustained sobriety.
SERENITY OAKS WELLNESS CENTER’S INTEGRATED APPROACH TO OXYCODONE DETOX
Whether you became addicted through prescriptions or other means, you will need many things to break your oxycodone dependency and continue to stay drug-free. The enormous physical challenges and risks you face during withdrawal make on-going, supervised medical care a necessity.
Yet addressing only the physical manifestations of your dependency means — even if you have the strong intent not to continue using — you may not have the behavioral tools, situational skills and practice to avoid a relapse.
To get sober and stay sober, you will need a multi-tiered support system, a comprehensive set of psychological and behavioral tools and supportive, compassionate and trained professionals who can give you the support you need when you need it.
Serenity Oaks Wellness Center appreciates the daily pain your addiction causes and how much you want to a healthier, drug-free lifestyle — not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones. For that reason, we don’t focus on a single aspect of your recovery, but instead treat you holistically.We don’t see you as an addict or as a patient, but as a human being making the right choices in difficult circumstances.