Oxycodone Addiction – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

What is oxycodone addiction? Oxycodone was developed to create a less or non-addictive alternative to the highly addictive painkillers that were being used during and after World War I. However, just like most opiates, Oxycodone and its generic versions such as OxyContin, have a relatively high risk of abuse and addiction.

Addiction is an intricate condition that affects the functioning of the body and brain. Persons with addiction often use a certain substance, such as drugs, to a level that it controls their life. It also leads to serious damage to relationships, families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools.

This article looks at oxycodone and its risk of abuse and addiction

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What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription painkiller or opiate analgesic that works by altering the way our brains respond to pain. It is regularly prescribed to treat chronic moderate to severe pain and is commonly found under the brand names Percocet and OxyContin. The Controlled Substances Act lists the medication as a Schedule II drug meaning that it:

  • Is accepted for medical use.
  • Is highly likely to be abused.
  • Might lead to severe physical and psychological dependence.

Oxycodone comes in pill or liquid form (with controlled and immediate-release variations) and is regularly prescribed as a combined substance with other medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen, with every combination having a unique brand name.

oxycodone addiction

Example of Oxycodone in its pill form.

Brand names include:

  • Percodan
  • Roxicodone
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet

Street terms include:

  • Blue
  • Kickers
  • Hillybilly heroin
  • Oxy
  • OC
  • Oxy 80s
  • Killers
  • Blue dynamite
  • Paulas
  • Percs
  • Roxi
  • Percodoms

According to the United State Drug Enforcement Administration (USDEA), American medics dispensed about 58.8 million prescriptions for the drug in 2016. Since this is a controlled drug, you need to have a prescription from your doctor so as to acquire oxycodone legally.

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What Does Oxycodone Do?

Oxycodone is a pain reliever – it relieves pain. But how does it work? There is still lots of research that need to be done to determine how this narcotic works, but it is believed that the pain-relieving effects of the drug occur due to its impact on our central nervous systems. When you take this opiate, it impairs certain receptors found in your central nervous system.  Then, this changes our perception of pain through the central nervous system and the spinal cord.

Oxycodone, just like other drugs, also leads to an emotional reaction that helps with pain relief, but this is sadly why it has some negative effects. When patients take the medication, it produces a flood of chemicals (called dopamine) that makes them feel pleasant and even euphoric. As this happens, the brain begins to reset to feel like it should continue to seek the drug that resulted in the pleasant feeling; this is why people begin to experience psychological desire to use and abuse oxycodone.

Another major component of why and how the substance works occurs due to the fact that it subdues the respiratory system.

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone

 Desirable Side Effects:

  • Extreme relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Pain relief
  • Reduced anxiety

Negative side effects:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Mood changes

Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone

In the long-term, the pain pill might have different side effects – both positive and negative. For some, the drug is quite effective at managing their chronic pain.

On the downside, it can lead to detrimental physiological and psychological effects, including dependency and addiction.

Long term abuse has also been found to cause liver and kidney failure and reduction in our brains’ capacity to adapt to fresh input, which might be the reason for the shift from prescribed to addictive use.

Combining oxycodone with other drugs presents a further risk. Extended or chronic use of any drug combined with oxycodone may lead to severe liver damage. This risk is heightened when the combination is abused with alcohol.

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How Addictive is Oxycodone?

This drug is highly addictive and people who use it, even as recommended by a doctor, might end up misusing it. After the prescription runs dry, some people decide to acquire more oxycodone illegally. In this case, users who are addicted to the drug and their dealers do not use the name oxycodone, to avoid police attention. They use the street names.

It  is possible for individuals to purchase these pills on the web. The dark internet uses an online black market where individuals can buy oxycodone, Percocet, OxyContin, and other drugs, without risking getting caught by police or meeting a stranger. If you suspect that your loved one is abusing prescription drugs, you should consider going through their browser’s search history for searched words including oxycodone and its other street names.

In many cases people struggling with prescription drug addiction will “doctor shop”. This is the act of visiting many doctors in order to get multiple prescriptions for the same drug. In many cases the individual struggling with the addiction will fake symptoms in order to get the doctor to prescribe the medication to them.

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How is Oxycodone Abused?

This drug is generally abused in three ways: intravenously, intranasally, or orally. A person looking for an instant “high” might chew oxy pills so that the substance can be absorbed into the bloodstream easier. Some users crush it into powder and sniff it so that the drug can reach their bloodstream faster. Other users dissolve the powder in water and then inject themselves with the solution.

Drug equipment / paraphinalia that are associated with prescription drug abuse include pill packaging or pill bottles, multiple prescriptions from different doctors, rolled-up dollar bills or straws, razor blades, spoons with tarnished bottoms, syringes, and belts or thin pieces of rubber.

oxycodone addiction signs

Examples of how oxycodone is abused.

Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction

If your loved one or friend’s behavior changes abruptly to the level which you can no longer communicate with or recognize them, drug addiction might be the reason.

Physical signs of oxy abuse include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent interpersonal problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Appearance of being confused or disoriented
  • Neglecting important work, home duties, or school
  • Lack of interest in previous activities.
  • Depression
  • Problems with memory or concentration

A reliable sign of oxycodone addiction is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the user is unable to get the drug.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Yawning
  • Unpleasant mood
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Goosebumps

If you or your loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms above you should seek immediate help as detoxing from opiates can be dangerous and potentially life threatening if done without the proper supervision.

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How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted?

Once you experience cravings for this drug, as well as the dependence of the substance, you reach a level called oxycodone addiction. It is hard to determine or state how long a person might take to develop this addiction.

For some, it might take just a single use. For others, the process might take days, weeks, or months. Everyone has their own personalized chemical composition and hence the amount it will take to get addicted will vary. The same goes for the number of days, months, or years it will take to fight this addiction.

How long does rehab take? Find out here

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment – Get Help Today

Oxycodone is a powerful opiate and therefore its addiction should be taken seriously. People from all walks of life struggle with drug addiction and dependence. Fortunately, help is available to anyone who would like to get sober. Get immediate substance abuse help by filling out one of our many contact forms or by calling our 24 hour drug addiction hotline. Our help lines are staffed with detox and rehab admissions specialists who will walk you through the intake process. They will find you the best treatment center according to your specific addiction and financial needs. Start the process today. Take the first step towards a happy life in recovery by reaching out today.

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