What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone addictionOxycodone is a prescription opioid based on the same chemical formula as certain natural substances found in the opium poppy. It serves as the sole or main active ingredient in medications such as OxyContin, Percocet, Oxycet, Percodan and Xtampza ER. When prescribed and used properly, oxycodone-based products provide effective relief for moderate and severe forms of pain. Unfortunately, these products often serve as targets of substance abuse.

Every year, over 11 million Americans misuse oxycodone or another opioid painkiller. This is a frightening figure, since anyone involved in painkiller misuse can develop symptoms of physical dependence and addiction. In fact, almost two million consumers of oxycodone and other prescription opioids qualify for diagnosis of a condition called opioid use disorder.

Are you involved in oxycodone misuse? Do you worry that you might meet the criteria for opioid use disorder? With help from an effective substance treatment program, you can overcome your problems and begin the journey back to a substance-free daily routine.

What Does Oxycodone Do?

All human beings have sites in their nervous systems designed to provide a pathway to the brain for endorphins and other natural painkillers. When you take oxycodone or any other opioid drug or medication, these nerve access points are used for the same purpose. Once it’s present in your brain in any significant amount, oxycodone has three overlapping effects. First, it provides pain relief by altering the way you interpret pain signals from various parts of your body. The medication also triggers a general slowdown in the rate of activity throughout your central nervous system. This slowdown leads to reduced function in some of your most critical organs, including your lungs and heart.

Crucially, the presence of oxycodone also triggers euphoria, an intense form of pleasure created by a buildup of a chemical in your brain called dopamine. This on-demand euphoria plays a major role in the development of opioid addiction. If you seek the sensation repeatedly by consuming large amounts of oxycodone, you can fool your brain into treating a dopamine buildup as a normal condition. Once this happens, you will feel compelled to maintain your excessive use and even to increase your consumption as your tolerance the medication’s effects rises. Some people misuse oxycodone-containing medications by crushing them up into a powder that can be snorted or injected. This form of use makes addiction much more likely to occur.

One widely prescribed painkiller, OxyContin, contains only oxycodone as an active ingredient. For this reason, the medication has often been the focus of misuse attempts. Several years ago, the maker of OxyContin changed its formula in an attempt to make it harder to crush. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the sale of Xtampza ER, an extended-release oxycodone product with tamper-proof characteristics.

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Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

A variety of signs may indicate that you or your loved one have an oxycodone-related substance problem. For example, if you have a legitimate prescription for the medication, you take part in misuse if you consume it more often or in larger doses than your doctor intended. Misuse also occurs whenever anyone uses oxycodone without a legitimate prescription. Other potential signs of problems include:

  • Unexplained drowsiness
  • An irritable or depressed mood
  • Loss of the ability to think clearly
  • A decline in physical coordination
  • Sleeping problems
  • Bouts of anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Unusually slow or shallow breathing

When their medication consumption stops or drops off at a rapid pace, people with oxycodone problems may also develop symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Classic examples of the early phase of these symptoms include excessive sweating, sleeplessness, achy muscles, anxiety and mental agitation. As withdrawal runs its course, symptoms such as pupil dilation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps will also appear.

Potential Consequences of Oxycodone Misuse and Addiction

If you consume oxycodone in excessive amounts, its presence can potentially overwhelm the function of your central nervous system and lead to the development of an opioid overdose. Signs of this emergency situation include:

  • Loss of normal skin coloration
  • Skin clamminess
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • An inability to rouse from unconsciousness
  • Limp muscles
  • An extreme slowdown in normal breathing
  • A complete loss of breathing

Without prompt medical assistance, you can die from an oxycodone overdose. In the U.S., opioids as a whole trigger more fatal episodes than any other drugs or medications.

In the long run, people who misuse oxycodone or any other opioid may experience a loss in their bodies’ output of natural painkillers. This change can leave them susceptible to pain symptoms, even when taking medications intended to address those symptoms. Long-term problems with oxycodone can also lead to lasting changes in the output of chemicals in your brain and body that help control mood and provide you with a sense of emotional stability.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

Effective treatment is available for oxycodone addiction and other forms of opioid use disorder. As a rule, this treatment combines the use of some form of medication with counseling services or behavioral psychotherapy. Today, there are three FDA-approved options for people with opioid problems: the strong opioid medication methadone, the weak opioid medication buprenorphine and the anti-opioid medication naltrexone. Although they belong to the opioid family, methadone and buprenorphine do not get you “high” or promote addiction. Instead, they help you through the withdrawal process and support the establishment of a stable daily routine. Naltrexone provides its benefits by blocking oxycodone’s effects and making you less susceptible to opioid cravings and opioid-seeking behaviors.

Along with medication, behavioral therapy and counseling constitute a modern approach to opioid problems called medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. Forms of therapy proven to help in this treatment include contingency management (CM) and community reinforcement approach (CRA) plus vouchers, which provide you with incentives for sticking with your recovery program. Participation in a 12-step group also has a proven benefit.

Transformations Treatment Center helps you recover from the effects of oxycodone problems in a holistic setting that addresses you as a unique person with important wants and needs. We provide MAT with naltrexone or the buprenorphine-based medication Suboxone. In addition, we offer supportive therapy, as well as specialized programming options that increase your comfort during treatment and help boost your odds for long-term success. For more information on how we can assist you, contact us today.

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