June 15, 2021
Oxycodone is a narcotic analgesic that is derived from the opium poppy plant. As a semi-synthetic drug, oxycodone is partially synthesized by humans, unlike completely natural opiates such as morphine and codeine. Oxycodone can be prescribed alone or in combination with other non-narcotic pain relievers such as acetaminophen, which is found in prescription medications like Percocet.
This article will help you learn about what makes oxycodone addictive and teach you how to recognize the behavioral signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction. You will also discover a great oxycodone addiction treatment option that can help you get back to a happy and healthy life after addiction.
What is oxycodone and why is it addictive?
Oxycodone works as a pain reliever by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, preventing pain signals from being transmitted to the brain. This helps to alleviate moderate to severe pain in several short-term situations such as after an injury or post-surgery, and to manage chronic pain, including cancer related pain. Extended-release medications such as OxyContin are generally used for long-term pain management, whereas immediate-release alternatives are more frequently used to relieve occasional or acute pain.
Since opioids affect the pleasure centers of the brain, they may cause feelings of euphoria, or a “high”, in addition to pain relief. These effects contribute to the possibility of addiction that comes with the use of many opioids. It is more likely that taking oxycontin will lead to addiction if it is used differently than directed. This can include taking it for a longer period of time than was recommended, taking higher doses or taking it more frequently, or consuming it incorrectly.
Abusing oxycodone in these ways increases the likelihood that your body and brain will develop a tolerance, meaning that more of the drug needs to be taken in order to feel the same pain-relieving and euphoric effects. This leads to drug dependence, and if untreated, addiction.
Pharmaceutical and slang terms for oxycodone
Oxycodone is the main ingredient in several brand name medications, including OxyContin, Oxaydo, Roxicodone, and Dazidox. This opioid is also combined with the non-narcotic analgesic acetaminophen in medications such as Percocet, Xartemix XR, Narvox, Roxicet, Xolox, and many more.
Some well-known slang terms for oxycodone and the various brand name medications associated with it include “oxy”, “oxycet”, “hillbilly heroin”, “percs”, “OC’s”, “roxy”, “roxies”, “killers”, and “kickers”, among others. Being familiar with the common street names for oxycodone could help you spot an addiction in a loved one and get them the help they need sooner.
Signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is often recognizable due to behavioral changes displayed by the user. Being able to recognize the signs of oxycodone addiction can help you realize that you or a loved one has a problem with drug abuse. Some signs of oxycodone addiction include:
- Taking oxycodone in higher doses, more frequently, or for longer than directed.
- Failed attempts at quitting oxycodone or reducing drug use.
- The presence of strong drug cravings between uses.
- Neglecting obligations and responsibilities in the workplace and in the household.
- Continued oxycodone use despite adverse physical and psychological side effects or other negative effects on quality of life.
- Social isolation or consistent interpersonal problems.
- Using oxycodone in risky or dangerous situations, such as before driving.
- A growing tolerance — needing to take higher doses more frequently to feel the same effects.
- The presence of withdrawal symptoms upon trying to quit taking oxycodone.
These behavioral changes are usually accompanied by inner physical and psychological symptoms that cause discomfort, including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in appetite
- Unusual itching and sweating
- Fatigue and brain fog
- Sleep troubles
- Psychological disturbances including anxiety, irritability, depression, and depersonalization
The severity of a user’s dependence or addiction determines the intensity of these symptoms. More dangerous symptoms of oxycodone addiction can include slowed breathing, extreme fatigue, and unconsciousness. These are also signs of overdose, which is one of the most dangerous risks associated with oxycodone addiction, as it can cause irreversible damage or even death. If you experience any of the above symptoms consistently, or if you suspect you or a loved one is going through an overdose, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Short-term and long-term effects of oxycodone abuse
Short-term effects of oxycodone abuse may be similar to the normal side effects of the drug, but can be more intense and dangerous. Abuse may refer to the consumption of a large concentration of oxycodone, or taking it in a way that is not recommended (chewing tablets, crushing and snorting pills, dissolving and injecting tablets). Those who abuse oxycodone in these ways may experience confusion, changes in motor function and control, acute nausea and constipation, brain fog, and slowed breathing.
Prolonged oxycodone abuse can lead to addiction. Other long-term side effects include the development of psychological conditions due to the chemical changes that continuous oxycodone use causes in the brain. These can range from depression and insomnia to anxiety and panic attacks, and even delusions and hallucinations. Physically, those abusing oxycodone may experience chronic constipation and nausea, among others uncomfortable symptoms. Long-term abusers of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet) may suffer from serious damage to their liver.
Treatment for oxycodone addiction
Trying to get off of oxycodone can be a painful process that often results in relapse. Since withdrawal can be so uncomfortable and involve debilitating physical and psychological symptoms as well as strong drug cravings, many users may fail to successfully taper down or quit their use.
For this reason, it is often recommended that people that are addicted to oxycodone go to a rehab or other specialized medical facility for addiction treatment. This ensures that you have medical, emotional, and pharmacological support throughout the entire treatment process. Treatment at a medical facility will likely include diagnostics, detoxification, and several kinds of therapy.
The diagnostics stage of treatment helps the medical experts determine your overall health and come up with a detox plan that will work for you. Several tests may be run, including blood tests, ECG, and psychological assessments. During detoxification, medications such as Suboxone and Subutex may be used to reduce drug cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms.
After oxycodone is cleaned from your system, several therapies might be recommended, including pharmacotherapy, physiotherapy, and behavioral therapy and counseling. The medication naltrexone may be prescribed to help reduce cravings and discourage the patient from relapsing by preventing the enjoyable effects of opioids. Behavioral therapy and counseling can help support the patient emotionally throughout their journey to sobriety, and help them address issues that may have contributed to the original addiction.
Recovery from oxycodone addiction is possible. If you suspect that you or a loved one has a problem with oxycodone dependence or addiction, contact us today.
Frequently asked questions
Why is oxycodone addictive?
Oxycodone affects the pleasure centers of the brain, so users may experience a euphoric effect when they take it, especially if it is not taken as directed. These feel-good effects contribute to the addiction potential of oxycodone and may influence users to take more of the drug. As the body gets used to the presence of oxycodone, a tolerance develops and more of the drug must be taken in order to feel the same desirable effects. The body and brain will become dependent on oxycodone in order to function “normally”, which can lead to addiction if it goes untreated.
What are the signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction?
Some classic signs of opioid addiction include: neglecting responsibilities, becoming socially isolated, using oxycodone in risky situations, multiple failed attempts to quit or reduce use, continued drug use despite a negative effect on health or quality of life, and more. Those who are addicted to oxycodone may also experience physical and/or psychological symptoms of addiction, including: headaches, nausea and vomiting, constipation, insomnia, low appetite, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and brain fog.
How can I get off of oxycodone?
The addiction treatment process generally involves diagnostics, detoxification, and post-detox support and therapy. After running tests to evaluate your health and the severity of your addiction, medication may be used to help cleanse oxycodone from your body and relieve uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. After detoxification, a medication such as naltrexone may be recommended in order to prevent drug cravings, and several kinds of therapy may be suggested to help support psychological and emotional stability and provide you with the best chance of continued sobriety.
Published on June 15, 2021
Dr Vorobjev Clinic team