Opioid addiction has reached epidemic levels in the U.S., responsible for thousands of opioid-related overdose deaths every year. Oxycodone, an opioid, can quickly lead to addiction, which increases the risk of overdose.
Opioid addiction can also lead to a number of adverse health effects, such as chemical dependence and withdrawal if left untreated.
Treatment for oxycodone addiction works to reverse health damage. In an oxycodone rehab program, individuals can access multiple treatment methods for a comprehensive recovery.
What Is Oxycodone And How Is It Abused?
Oxycodone is a narcotic opioid prescription typically used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. This medication is often used for those who need ongoing, daily pain treatment.
Oxycodone is available as a liquid, concentrated solution, tablet, capsule, and extended-release capsule.
The following prescription brands contain oxycodone or oxycodone combinations:
- Xtampza ER
- Xartemis ER
Individuals may abuse oxycodone by crushing and snorting the tablets or capsules. This method bypasses the extended-release mechanism and produces almost immediate side effects.
They may also dissolve the powder into a water-solution and inject it so the oxycodone reaches the bloodstream immediately and produces fast effects.
How Does Oxycodone Abuse Lead To Addiction?
Oxycodone abuse can lead quickly to addiction due to the drug’s highly addictive chemical properties, which are a result of the way oxycodone works in the brain.
Upon entering the brain, oxycodone attaches to opioid receptors and force a flow of certain chemicals which affect mood and hormone regulation, such as dopamine.
This disrupts the brain’s natural communication system for producing these chemicals within the body. Over time, the brain may stop the output of such chemicals.
Once a person’s brain comes to rely on oxycodone for the production of feel-good chemicals, they have become addicted. In turn, the person may feel the effects of the loss of these chemicals (called withdrawal), which prompts them to continue using oxycodone.
Signs And Symptoms Of Oxycodone Addiction
Oxycodone is prescribed to individuals undergoing extreme pain. For this reason, they may not recognize addiction when it starts.
The following signs and symptoms may occur if addiction has developed:
- using more oxycodone in order to feel the effects of the drug
- preoccupation with seeking and using oxycodone
- increasing dosage or frequency of use
- change in how a person takes oxycodone
- withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, nausea, or muscle and bone pain
Why Do People Abuse Oxycodone?
Those who abuse oxycodone may be seeking pain-relief if the medication doesn’t work right away. This is common, as oxycodone is an extended-release drug.
People may also abuse oxycodone once they develop tolerance and cannot feel the effects with their regular dose, leading them to increase dosage or frequency of dosage.
Some individuals may illicitly buy oxycodone off the streets and use it to relieve withdrawal symptoms from addiction to more potent opioids, such as heroin.
Finally, many individuals use oxycodone to mix with other drugs, such as alcohol or heroin, for a more impactful high, though this is proven to be a dangerous practice.
Side Effects Of Oxycodone Abuse
Oxycodone abuse can have numerous side effects. Like other opioids, oxycodone works to depress the central nervous system by slowing body functions, including heart, breathing, and blood pressure rates.
When abused, oxycodone can slow these rates to extremely low levels and may lead to more serious long-term risks.
Possible side effects of oxycodone abuse can also include:
- breathing troubles
- changes to heartbeat
- chest pain
- dry mouth
- extreme drowsiness
- stomach cramps
- flushed skin
- mood changes
Risks Of Long-Term Oxycodone Abuse
Oxycodone abuse can have vast damage on a person’s health. Addiction is the foremost risk with oxycodone abuse as this disorder can lead to numerous risks to mental, behavioral, physical, and emotional health.
If a person continues abusing oxycodone, they will likely also develop chemical dependence, which leads to withdrawal when not using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can push individuals to continue to abuse oxycodone, even once they realize they are struggling to stop use.
Tolerance can also result from long-term use, which means a person will not feel the effects of oxycodone when they abuse it and may take more in order to get the desired high. However, the body is still only able to process so much of the substance at any given time.
Continuing to abuse oxycodone if a person has already taken a dose greatly increases the risk of overdose. When mixed with other drugs, oxycodone can be especially harmful and may lead to fatal overdose.
Other risks of long-term oxycodone abuse may include:
- chronic constipation
- slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
- passing out (fainting)
- slow or weak pulse
- sleep issues, such as insomnia
- lack of sexual desire
- inability to concentrate
- appetite problems
- poor nutrition or weight loss
- irregular menstrual cycles in women
- inability to get an erection in men
Signs And Symptoms Of An Oxycodone Overdose
The possibility of overdose is perhaps the greatest risk associated with oxycodone abuse. An overdose occurs when a person has too much of a substance in their body to process safely.
Signs and symptoms of an oxycodone overdose can include:
- blue fingernails and/or lips
- constipation or stomach cramps
- breathing troubles or stopped breathing
- extremely small pupils
- muscle damage from being in a coma
- nausea or vomiting
- stomach or intestinal tract spasms
- coma (inability to be roused)
Oxycodone And Polysubstance Abuse
Combining oxycodone with other substances is known as polysubstance abuse. This practice is highly dangerous and can lead to a variety of adverse health effects. The most immediate dangers of mixing oxycodone with other drugs are the increased risk of addiction and overdose. A drug overdose, if not treated in time, can lead to death. Long-term dangers of polysubstance abuse can lead to organ damage.
Common oxycodone drug combinations include:
Treatment Programs For Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction
One of the greatest forms of treatment for oxycodone addiction is medication-assisted treatment. For many, physical dependence on the drug leads to uncomfortable, even painful withdrawal symptoms.
In order to safely withdraw from oxycodone, and avoid giving in to abuse just to alleviate symptoms, individuals should first detox from oxycodone in an inpatient setting, such as within a medically supervised detox program.
After the body is rid of oxycodone, individuals are ready for treatment. Medication-assisted treatment is best facilitated in an inpatient rehab program, where recovering individuals can receive medication for withdrawal while attending therapy and counseling.
Inpatient rehab programs also provide round-the-clock care by medical personnel, living quarters to immerse individuals in the treatment environment, and all the tools necessary to manage addiction.
This way, those addicted to oxycodone heal all aspects of health affected by addiction and enjoy the best chance for a lasting recovery.
To learn more about the best rehab programs for oxycodone abuse and addiction and where to find them, speak to one of our treatment specialists today.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Opioid Overdose: Prescription Opioids
- Center for Substance Abuse Research — Oxycodone
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Oxycodone