How Does Oxycodone Make You Feel?Anna Ciulla
Unfortunately, pain can be an all too familiar aspect of our lives. While we all face these things in different measure, anyone who spends decades on earth will very likely experience loss, anguish, grief, and injury. Because of this, it is essential for parents to instruct their children how to manage emotional or physical pain in a safe and productive manner.
In recent years, the way that society traditionally viewed and treated emotional and chronic pain has shifted, with an ever-greater emphasis on completely stopping the pain, most commonly with the artificial aid of drugs. Opiate painkillers such as oxycodone are incredibly effective at dampening pain, so much so that we regrettably find ourselves in the midst of an opiate epidemic. This problem is heightened by the fact that oxycodone only masks the pain and neglects to treat the underlying symptoms at the source of the pain, allowing the issue, whether physical or emotional, to fester.
If you are a parent, it is crucial you understand what oxycodone is, how it reacts with the body, and how it makes you feel. Understanding this allows you to warn those you love of its risks. It also gives you greater empathy for those people who do stumble innocently into addiction and may need the help of an inpatient drug rehab. Below, we will discuss oxycodone’s effects and the possible long-term ramifications of opiate abuse and addiction.
What is Oxycodone
Oxycodone is what is known as a semisynthetic opiate. This painkiller, sold under the name OxyContin, is synthesized from thebaine, an opiate-alkaloid within the Persian poppy. This moderately potent opiate analgesic is used to treat moderate to chronic pain. It goes by several street names such as:
- Hillbilly Heroin
People who abuse oxycodone may take it orally, or crush and snort them for a more immediate and potent effect.
Oxycodone and the Human Body
The human body has natural opioid receptors within the:
- CNS (Central Nervous System)
- Gastrointestinal tract
- PNS (Peripheral Nervous System)
Whether natural or synthetic, opiates bind to these receptors, creating immediate psychoactive and somatic effects. Within an hour of administration, a person who takes oxycodone will likely experience some measure of:
- Pain relief
- Antidepressant effects
- Relaxation of heart and lungs
The stimulation of the receptors doesn’t just relieve pain, but it also floods the central nervous system with feelings of pleasure, triggering the reward center of the brain and laying the tracks for the formation of a habit. This system evolved in order to encourage human beings to procreate, eat, drink, and exercise, amongst other things. Oxycodone, especially when abused, overstimulates the brain, artificially altering this reward center and rewiring neural pathways.
A person who abuses Oxycodone will build up a tolerance to its effects. As a result, the effects grow more marginal, and a user will need to take larger or more frequent doses to achieve the same effect. In short order, a person can wind up both physically dependent on the drug and mentally addicted to the pleasurable feelings it induces. If Oxycodone is absent from the bloodstream of a regular Oxycodone user for more than a few hours, they will inevitably experience cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and bodily dysfunction.
How Does Oxycodone Make You Feel
While oxycodone will affect everyone differently, there are general symptoms that one could expect to feel.
Taken as Prescribed
if you take them as prescribed you may experience feelings of:
- Bliss – Oxycodone artificially stimulates the pleasure center of the brain, sending a stream of pleasure signals throughout the brain and CNS. In even moderate doses, Oxycodone can make you feel fantastic, both physically and mentally. It should be no surprise, therefore, that such feelings of joy can quickly become addicting.
- Relaxation – Oxycodone has a sedative effect on the heart and lungs, causing them to slow down. This slackening leads to feelings of relaxation in both the muscles and the brain. Oxycodone can make you feel as if you are resting on clouds or sinking into your couch.
- Anxiety relief – The combination of pleasure and sedative signals tends to dampen feelings of anxiety. One Reddit user reported, “For me, it was just the ability to feel nothing, for a while. If you’ve been depressed or anxious for a long period of time, then you can see the appeal of that—and I think almost universally people who become addicted have some problem they’re compensating for.” Another Redditor said, “All I could think about my first (and only) time on oxy was, So this is what normal people feel like.”
- Pain relief – Oxycodone suppress pain signals and are so effective that they can make a person nearly forget that they were ever hurt. As you might imagine, this can be quite dangerous if a person has a serious injury. Pain is meant to alert the body of an injury, so when dampened, a person may use the damaged appendage and only further injure it. Because Oxycodone can help someone in moderate pain function normally and go about their daily tasks, it is all too easy for such a person to develop an addiction unintentionally.
- Tranquility – Thanks to those symptoms mentioned above, Oxycodone can make you feel as if you don’t need to have a care in the world. Because of this, a person on Oxycodone may seem aloof and slower in both thought and tongue.
Taken in Larger Doses
If taken recreationally or in an abusive manner, you may experience feelings of:
- Euphoria – When Oxycodone is taken in large doses, the stream of pleasure signals turns into a flood. This euphoric high is what many users become mentally addicted to, causing them to take the drug in larger and more frequent doses to obtain the rush.
- Nausea – According to Harvard Medical School, “Pain medications act on the part of the brain that controls nausea and vomiting.” Although oxycodone users report fewer instances of nausea or vomiting than those who receive morphine, these drugs can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting, especially in larger doses or if taken with an empty stomach.
- Breathing problems – The sedative effect oxycodone has on the lungs, and the heart causes breathing to slow down. In larger doses, this slowdown can dangerously turn into a complete cessation of respiratory function. A person who takes too much Oxycodone may feel as if they’re unable to breathe.
- Drowsiness – Large doses of oxycodone, especially if snorted or smoked, can induce heavy drowsiness and cause a user to fall asleep. A user may sink into the feelings of bliss and relaxation and “nod off” into an opiate dream.
- Cognitive Impairment – The rush of pleasure Oxycodone causes may impair normal functions and hinder the ability to receive signals. Oxycodone can make you feel mentally slow, leaving you clumsy and unable to fully comprehend things around you. These feelings of disorientation make it extremely dangerous to drive or operate heavy machinery.
- Fear – A person who has taken too much Oxycodone may feel mounting fear beneath the pleasure, thanks to nausea and the accompanying feeling that their body is malfunctioning. The rush may be so intense that they realize they may have made a fatal mistake and taken too large of a dose.
Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone
If used and abused for an extended period of time, Oxycodone can lead to grim long-term effects on both the brain and the body. Such feelings include:
A Tolerance to Oxycodone
As mentioned, if you use oxycodone regularly, your body will adapt to its effects and presence. When a tolerance builds, you may take the drug and feel as if you need more of it in order to achieve pain relief or the opiate high. On top of that, the torrent of pleasure signals the drug produces can completely overshadow those your body naturally releases. Activities that may have once brought great pleasure and joy no longer compare in any meaningful way. As a result, you may feel as if the only thing that matters is obtaining more of the drug.
In order to fight this tolerance an Oxycodone user may:
- Increase their dosage
- Take the drug more often
- Take the drug in a more dangerous method such as intravenously, snorting, or smoking
- Graduate to a stronger opiate such as fentanyl or heroin
As a person’s tolerance builds, the habit will morph into physical and mental dependence. As a result, a person may keep pushing the envelope with further dangerous actions and reckless decisions.
A person addicted to oxycodone will need the drug in order to feel normal. When oxycodone is no longer present, the body does not remember how to function and begins to overheat and break down. This malfunction is what is known as withdrawal.
Feelings of Withdrawal
A person who abuses oxycodone can feel withdrawal symptoms within six hours of the last dose. As always, how long withdrawal symptoms last will depend on a case by case basis. These unpleasant feelings can be extremely uncomfortable and possibly fatal. They include:
- Ache in muscles
- Heavy sweating
- Panic attacks
- Rapidly beating heart
- Runny nose
- Strong cravings
Oxycodone withdrawals can overwhelm the user and send them in a state of shock, being that their body and brain desperately seek balance in the wake of the substance’s absence. Because of that, if you or a loved one is struggling with an Oxycodone addiction, it would be wise to do a Oxycodone detox at an inpatient drug rehab treatment center such as Beach House Recovery. This gives you a safe place to undergo withdrawals, directly beneath the eye of caring and knowledgeable medical professionals who want to shepherd you through the process.
There are opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal muscles. Regular Oxycodone use can lead to opiate-induced constipation. Oxycodone slows the muscles that contract and expand around the intestines and help a person defecate. Further, Oxycodone encourages the intestines to absorb more water than they normally would, hardening the stool and leading to constipation. This can become such an issue, that serious oxycodone users no longer feel as if they need to pass a bowel movement. If untreated, a person can develop serious health issues such as:
- Anal fissures
- Fecal impaction
Another side effect of Oxycodone abuse can alter how the brain reacts to pain and jumble the way that the brain communicates with its reward center. Damage to the brain may leave you feeling some of the following things:
- Memory Loss – The combination of the Oxycodone high and the damage to the brain may make you feel as if your ability to recall things has been severely diminished. Both short-term and long-term memory can be profoundly affected, leaving a person feeling as if they are living in a haze or slowly losing their grip on reality.
- Inability to manage pain – A person’s body has natural pain-fighting neurotransmitters meant to help dampen pain. Regular Oxycodone use for pain management gradually diminishes this natural defense, making it difficult if not impossible to naturally regulate pain or discomfort. As a result, small injuries may feel far worse than they would have previously.
- Mental slowdown – Oxycodone abuse can rewire and severely damage the brain. This may leave a person feeling confused, unable to process things as they used to, and unable to regulate their emotions.
As mentioned, Oxycodone and the pleasure it produces takes precedence over other pleasurable activities. A lowered sex drive and sexual dysfunction are normal long-term side effects of Oxycodone abuse. For men, this can manifest as erectile dysfunction, a lack of desire for sex, or impotence. In women, it can lead to decreased estrogen levels and possible fertility issues.
Although many people start Oxycodone for genuine reasons and do not intend to abuse the drug, the pleasurable feelings it produces and its ability to mask pain make it all too easy for a person to succumb to the allure. Unfortunately, the way Oxycodone can make a person feel good in the short-term can turn into serious long-term health complications (both mental and physical) or even an overdose.
If you or someone you love battle Oxycodone abuse, it is critical that you reach out to your family or doctor at once and enroll in a drug detox program. While the struggle of removing Oxycodone from your life can be a difficult process, it is one that can save dreams, relationships, and lives.
For more information on our long-term residential treatment program, please call Beach House Recovery today.
- Harvard health, “What to do when your medication causes nausea.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/what-to-do-when-your-medication-causes-nausea
- NCBI, “Incidence of nausea and vomiting induced by oxycodone.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25959201
- Webmd, “Oxycodone.”https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1025-5278/oxycodone-oral/oxycodone-oral/details