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Oxycodone is one of the most powerful painkillers available on the market, after morphine. Oxycodone is the main ingredient in many commonly abused brand name painkillers, such as OxyContin and Percocet. It is a drug commonly used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, especially in palliative patients. Unfortunately, it has several adverse side effects and great potential for addiction and dependence too.
Oxycodone belongs to the same family as morphine, the opioids. These drugs allow, through the stimulation of certain receptors, to diminish the algid signals that go from the nerve endings to the brain. Sometimes it is not only able to inhibit painful signals, but also to allow us to respond differently to pain, even if we have “pleasant reactions.” The most common use of Oxycodone is in tablets. Most doctors prescribe it to use every 6 hours, although there are some “slow release” tablets that allow the drug to stay in the blood longer, where it would be prescribed about every 12 hours.
The Signs of Oxycodone Abuse
Oxycodone abuse is often very hard to recognize if you don’t know what to look out for. Many of those who do abuse oxycodone simply just swallow a pill without the use of any paraphernalia, which makes it easy for someone to conceal their abuse from friends, family, and co-workers.
Knowing the signs of oxycodone abuse can help you take notice when someone you care about is slipping into the dark side of addiction. Some common signs of oxycodone use include:
- Dilated pupils
- Short attention span
- Sense of calmness
The Dangers of Oxycodone Use
Although oxycodone brings relief for many people suffering from pain, whether it’s moderate or severe, the dangers of the drug are becoming more clear than ever here in America. Due to the euphoric effects of using oxycodone, many people abuse the drug despite the many risks that come with it. Those who start out abusing oxycodone on a regular basis are far more likely to develop a dependence and/or an addiction to it very quickly. Because oxycodone is derived from Opiates, which is similar to morphine and heroin, this makes it extremely addictive when consumed.
The greatest danger of using oxycodone is the potential for a fatal overdose. Using oxycodone will depress a person’s respiration and decreases their blood pressure. This can then lead to seizures, comas or even cardiac arrest – especially when ingested, snorted, or by injecting crushed tablets.
Immediate Side Effects of Oxycodone Use
Stimulation of opioid receptors not only blocks moderately to severe pain. These molecules are found throughout the body, so they trigger quite different reactions that lead to side effects that include:
- upset stomach,
- blurred vision,
- dry mouth,
- sweating, and
- decreases in the ability to feel pain.
There may also be other symptoms that are dose-dependent. As we increase the amount of oxycodone that we ingest, we can act on a greater amount of opioid receptors. In addition, once these receptors become saturated, oxycodone can act on other cells or organs. These include:
- Chest pain,
- heart rhythm alteration, palpitations, postural hypotension.
- Powerful inflammatory reactions: inflammation of the face, tongue, eyes, lips, hands, feet.
Long-term Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse
When abusing oxycodone for long periods of time, an abuser may experience complications with their physical and mental health as a result of their drug use such as:
- Heart failure
- Aches and cramps
- Muscle weakness
- The increased pressure of spinal fluid
- Swelling in limbs
Some other symptoms related to long-term abuse or chronic use would be:
- Everything related to liver failure (jaundice, liver pain, ascites, acute pulmonary edema, right-sided heart failure, etc.).
- Everything related to renal insufficiency (edema in lower limbs and eyelids, little urine, hypertension or arterial hypotension, renal failure, etc.).
- Psychological symptoms: lack of self-control, promotion of compulsive actions, risk of suicide, self-flagellation, and effective applanation.
The Dark Side of Oxycodone Addiction
While oxycodone is one of the most potent painkillers and widely consumed on the U.S. market, it certainly has problems that go beyond the side effects. According to the FDA, this is one of the most potentially abusive drugs available on the market. In addition to this, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are 11 criteria for diagnosing an oxycodone addiction. The more symptoms present, the more severe the problem. Here are some of the criteria used to determine an oxycodone addiction.
- Hazardous use: You’ve used oxycodone in ways that are dangerous to yourself and/or others (ex. snorting)
- Social or interpersonal problems: Your oxycodone use has caused relationship problems or conflicts with others
- Neglection of major roles: You’ve failed to meet responsibilities at work, school, or even at home
- Withdrawal: You experience withdrawal symptoms when you reduce or eliminate the use of oxycodone
- Tolerance: You need to consume more oxycodone just to get the same effect you once got
- Larger amounts for longer: Increasing amounts of oxycodone consumed for increased periods of time
- Repeated attempts to control use: You’ve tried to cut back or quit entirely but haven’t succeeded
- Too much time spent using: You’re spending a lot of your time-consuming oxycodone
- Physical or psychological problems: Your oxycodone use has caused physical or mental health problems
- Giving up on activities: You’ve skipped or quit activities you once enjoyed just to use oxycodone
- Increased cravings: You’ve experienced cravings for oxycodone
In order to be diagnosed with an oxycodone use disorder, you must meet two or of these criteria within a 12-month period. If you meet two or three of the criteria, you have a mild oxycodone use disorder. Four to five of these would be considered moderate, and six or more is considered severe.
Next Steps to Curb Oxycodone Addiction
Oxycodone addiction is undeniably deadly no matter how long one is abusing it for. For someone struggling with an addiction, staging an intervention is a common first step toward potentially saving their life. If you are worried about how someone you care about will react to intervention, we recommend you hire an intervention specialist.
Oxycodone Withdrawal and Detox Treatments
Oxycodone, like other opiates, can have significant withdrawal symptoms when one is detoxing without any expert medical supervision. Most treatment professionals agree that while oxycodone withdrawal is very uncomfortable, it is rarely life-threatening to the patient.
The best way to detox, get through withdrawal, and rehab from oxycodone abuse, while reducing the chances of relapse is with expert therapy, support groups, and medication. Therapy and support groups often help people suffering from oxycodone addiction overcome the psychological impulses to use and abuse while medications can help to reduce the discomfort that comes with oxycodone withdrawal. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) with the use of common medications such as buprenorphine, Subutex, and naltrexone, not only will help to reduce the withdrawal symptoms but can also help to reduce cravings and sustain long-term recovery after the completing a detox.
An inpatient drug rehabilitation center like Beach Houses’ state-of-the-art facility is often the best place to receive all of these treatments in a helpful and loving environment that is conducive to a successful recovery from addiction.
If you or a loved one has an oxycodone addiction whether abusing oxycodone for a short or long period of time, there is help available. You can contact Beach House today and speak confidentially 24/7 with an addiction expert.