Oxycodone Addiction And Treatment
Addiction to prescription opioids has become rampant in the United States, particularly in the last few decades. While many opioids contain chemical properties which can make them addicting, some are more addictive than others.
Oxycodone is one of the most commonly abused prescription opioids. In fact, it’s also one of “the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths,” according to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC).
Yet addiction to oxycodone is treatable. Addiction to opioids like oxycodone may affect many aspects of your health, but each of these can be addressed with the right treatment program.
Reversing the damage of addiction may seem daunting, but in truth it’s both possible and attainable with the right help and access to resources.
What Is Oxycodone And How Is It Abused?
Oxycodone is “a semi-synthetic opiate manufactured by modifying the chemical thebaine, an organic chemical found in opium,” according to the Center For Substance Abuse Research (CESAR).
Percocet and Percodan are common medications prescribed for pain relief that contain the active ingredient from Oxycodone. The most well-known form of this medication, though, is probably OxyContin.
OxyContin is intended for moderate to severe pain, and is supposed to release over time (it’s usually available in extended-release tablets). Because it’s intended for a slow release, abuse of this medication is highly dangerous.
When people abuse oxycodone, they may crush the pills and snort the powder, or dissolve it in water and inject it in the blood, muscle, or under the skin. Forcing a quicker release causes rapid effects, which in turn ensures too much oxycodone enters the bloodstream at one time. This increases risk of adverse effects, like slowed breathing, as well as risk of overdose.
Some people also abuse opioids with other substances, like alcohol. This is usually done to achieve enhanced “high” effects, but can have dire effects as well.
The U.S. National Library Of Medicine warns that you can experience “serious or life-threatening” side effects if you abuse oxycodone. Abuse of a prescription medication includes changing the frequency of the dose, changing the amount you take, changing the administration, or taking a prescription that doesn’t belong to you.
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What Are The Side Effects?
When oxycodone is taken as prescribed, the side effects tend to be mild. It’s abuse of the drug that causes adverse side effects, especially when combined with abuse of other substances. Side effects of oxycodone abuse may include:
- Headaches, dizziness, and nausea
- Heart failure
- Increase to pressure of spinal or cerebral fluids
- Irregular breathing or respiratory depression
- Low blood pressure
- Fatal overdose due to cardiac arrest or slowed breathing
The U.S. National Library Of Medicine explains that fatal overdose is especially a risk when taking crushed, extended-release OxyContin tablets.
Side effects are more easily monitored when you’re using this medication under your doctor’s care. It’s when you abuse oxycodone outside the care of a physician that you’re most at risk of abuse, addiction, and other consequences. As CESAR reports, “when used illicitly, the chances of becoming addicted to it increase exponentially.”
Because of how opioids work—by changing the way your brain and body respond to pain—taking them when you aren’t experiencing great pain can be harmful. Also, you’re most at risk of developing addiction to oxycodone if you take it for recreational use.
Signs Of Oxycodone Addiction
At first, it may be difficult to recognize the signs of an oxycodone addiction. There are a few telltale symptoms that signal you, or someone you know, are addicted.
It’s important to understand that, since opioid addiction affects your mind, body, and emotional health, signs of addiction to it may be physical, behavioral, or mental. One of the biggest signs of any addiction is the inability to stop use of the substance, even if you want to stop, or being unable to stop taking more than your prescribed dose.
The American Academy Of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports the following signs of opioid abuse and addiction:
- Lack of coordination
- Lack of motivation
- Poor judgment or decision-making
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shallow or slowed breathing
- Shirking responsibilities
- Sleep troubles and changes to sleep patterns
What Are The Consequences?
Just as with other opioid addictions, there are many consequences for oxycodone addiction. To start, if you abuse the drug long enough to develop dependence to it, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms. If you also build a tolerance to it, you may begin taking it more frequently or taking higher doses, which is dangerous due to risk of overdose.
Dependence means that you have formed a physical reliance on the drug. In other words, if you try to cut back or stop use of it, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be quite severe and may include anxiety, flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, and vomiting, insomnia, and muscle pain.
Having a tolerance means you won’t feel the effects of the drug like you used to. With a drug as powerful as oxycodone, you may guess that the results of tolerance could be disastrous. While you may not feel the effects of the drug, your body can still only process so much oxycodone at a time.
If you don’t feel the effects and take more, oxycodone may reach excessive levels in your body. This is how overdose occurs.
One of the worst consequences of substance abuse is addiction. Addiction can mean tolerance that pushes you to keep taking the drug. It can mean withdrawal that keeps you abusing it long after you realize you should stop. It can mean overdose before you realize that you’ve had too much.
In addition to all of these possibilities is the toll oxycodone addiction can have on your personal life. From relationships to work, family, and friends, no part of your life stays untouched by addiction.
Can You Overdose On Oxycodone?
The unfortunate truth is that, as with many opioids, you can overdose on oxycodone. It’s a potent pain reliever, prescribed to treat only extreme to severe pain. Even so, the medicine is meant to work slowly over time because it’s powerful.
Overdose from opioids is a medical emergency, and should be treated with extreme care. If you suspect someone is suffering from opioid overdose, get emergency medical help right away.
The following are signs of an opioid overdose:
- Cold, clammy feeling to the skin
- Extreme drowsiness
- Limp/weak muscles
- Loss of consciousness
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Trouble breathing
Who Is Affected?
The amount of people affected by prescription opioid abuse and addiction now numbers in the millions every year. As prescription rates increase, so do rates of abuse, addiction, and overdose.
The CDC reports that “as many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.” More than that, emergency departments see more than 1,000 visits per day due to opioid abuse.
The CDC tracked opioid abuse and overdoses due to opioids from 1999 to 2014 and found that the number of overdoses quadrupled from the beginning of this period to the end of it. During those years, more than 183,000 people died of opioid overdose.
Also, opioid abuse is more rampant in people between the ages of 25 and 54, males, and in non-Hispanic whites, though abuse is seen in many different demographics.
What Treatments Are Available?
Decades ago, there were no viable treatment options for oxycodone or other opioid addiction. Today, there are a multitude of effective methods, with more evidence-supported methods being researched all the time.
Opioid addiction changes your brain chemistry and communication, so treatment has to address those issues. In turn, your behavior, moods, and thought processes are changed, and treatment must address those changes as well. Withdrawal, tolerance, and residual effects (like lack of nutrition, exercise, and sleep) affect your body, and treatment must also work to reverse these changes.
This is a tall order, but in the right environment, and with the right people behind you, it can be done. The following are some of the most effective, evidence-based methods available at our rehab centers:
- Counseling: family, group, and individual
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Treatment for men
- Treatment for women
- Skill building
- Mindfulness techniques
- Adventure therapy
- Wilderness therapy
- Medication assisted therapy
- Medically supervised detoxification
- Co-occurring disorder treatment
- Motivational interviewing
- Aftercare services
Where Can You Find Treatment?
If you’re struggling with oxycodone addiction, and you want to break free from the dangers of it but don’t know where to start, we can help.
At Addiction Campuses, we’ll connect you with all the resources you need to heal, including the best rehab centers with the most viable treatment options. Contact us today at Addiction Campuses, or call 888-966-8973.
Mayo Clinic—Oxycodone (Oral Route)
National Institute On Drug Abuse—America’s Addiction To Opioids: Heroin And Prescription Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration—Opioid Overdose