Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin. A prescription painkiller that modifies pain perception and produces a euphoric feeling by altering levels of dopamine in the brain. However, the effects and impact of this painkiller are not all positive. When the brain grows accustomed to the constant presence of Oxycodone, the brain might not function so well without it, leading to withdrawal and addiction. But first, to understand oxycodone withdrawal we need to look into exactly what Opioid and Opiate addiction means, how it can begin, and the multiple risk factors associated with it. 

Opioid and Opiate Addiction 

Opioids are a class of drugs that are prescribed to treat pain. Opioids and Opiates are often used interchangeably, but they are different. Opiates refer to natural opioids like heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opioids refer to all-natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opioids. Prescription opioids include; Vicodin, Dilaudid, and Oxycontin (oxycodone). What is supposed to be a very useful way to treat pain, has caused a crisis that is being labeled as the ‘Opioid Epidemic’ in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 130 people a day die from opioid-related drug overdoses. The National Institute of Drug Abuse says, approximately 2.1 million people in the United States and between 26.4 and 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids. 

Opioid Addiction Risk Factors

There are different factors that contribute to the risk of opioid/opiate addiction. From genetic, psychological, and environmental factors to the length of time of taking the drug. Opioids are prescribed by medical professionals when a person is experiencing pain. Whether that be from surgery, a broken ankle, long-term chronic problems, and so on. Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, creating a sense of well-being and pleasure. When the opioid dose wears off, people may find themselves wanting that feeling back, which is attributed as the gateway toward addiction. Opioids tend to be more addictive when using methods different from what was prescribed, like crushing a pill so it can be snorted or injected, which is a life-threatening practice that can lead to overdoses and death. Researchers have also found when taking opioid medications for more than a few days, you’re at an increased risk of long-term use, leading to an increase in the risk of addiction. Other known risk factors include:

  • Poverty
  • Unemployment
  • Family and personal history of substance abuse
  • Young age
  • History of criminal activity or legal problems
  • Regular contact with high-risk people or high-risk environments
  • Heavy tobacco use
  • History of severe depression or anxiety
  • Prior drug or alcohol rehabilitation

Although many drugs fall under the Opioid category, in this guide, we want to focus on oxycodone. Specifically, its effects, the impact of withdrawal symptoms, complications it can lead to, and the treatment options to help fight and prevent addiction. 

Oxycodone Effects

The powerful ingredient oxycodone is found in painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet, and Roxicodone. It is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the United States. The effects when taking this drug include:

  • Happiness
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Confidence
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Calmness
  • Dizziness
  • Euphoria

However, the effects of Oxycodone are not always ‘positive. There are negative side effects that need medical attention right away like blood in urine, severe constipation and vomiting, fainting, and so on. There are also the side effects that are common to come along with the prescription and don’t need medical attention but are still unpleasant including difficulty having a bowel movement, drowsiness, and lack or loss of strength. 

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid medication with an ingredient like oxycodone when consumed over a long period, will cause your body to start to become desensitized to the effects. Over time, your body will need more and more of the same drug to achieve what it once was before, that euphoric and pain-free feeling. This is when addiction becomes prevalent.  Prolonged use of the drug changes the way nerve receptors work in the brain, leading to dependency to function. If you stop taking the medication and you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone, it is a strong indication of a physical dependency on the substance. Withdrawal symptoms are a body’s reaction to the absence of the drug and it can be extremely painful and unpleasant, risking those who abuse the drug to fall back into the pattern of using.

Timeline of Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms 

There is the chance of you going through different withdrawal stages during the process of detox that is also dependent on what opioid is being taken. Detox is the physiological or medicinal removal of toxic substances from a living organism, that is mainly carried out by the liver. How long Oxycodone withdrawal lasts depends on different factors including; how severe the addiction is, overall health, how often the opiate is used, and the type of opiate used. When it comes to the withdrawal process for drugs with Oxycodone, it’s divided into two distinct phases: initial symptoms and later symptoms. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Oxycodone withdrawal timeline.

Initial Symptoms :

Withdrawal symptoms may begin around four to eight after the drug is stopped, although it can vary from person to person depending on a variety of different factors like environmental, genetic, or biological. Each can impact how a person handles withdrawal symptoms. The drug will leave the system about 12-24 hours after the last dose, but since it has a half-life of four hours, withdrawal symptoms can appear in that four to the eight-hour range. Here’s the type of Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms you may experience in the initial stage:

  • Mood changes, like anxiety, irritation, restlessness, or agitation
  • Sleep changes like insomnia
  • Physical changes, like muscle aches and cramps, or yawning
  • Symptoms similar to a cold or flu, like a runny nose, sweating, chills, fever, and congestion

Think of flu-like symptoms, that is what the initial stage of withdrawal symptoms will feel like. Many users who don’t even realize they have a substance abuse problem with oxycodone tend to think they actually have the flu, not realizing how similar its symptoms are to Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. 

Later Symptoms:

Later symptoms are expected to appear a full 24 hours after the initial symptoms. However, the most severe signs of withdrawal can take up to three days to subside, while less acute symptoms typically last another week or two. Later symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Reduced appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurry vision
  • Shivering or goosebumps
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

On the positive side, it’s very rare for Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms to be life-threatening. So, even though it may feel as if you are dying, you are not.

Continued Health Complications 

Beyond just the initial and later symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal, there are many other health complications painkiller addiction can lead to. One of the biggest health concerns with an oxycodone addiction is the risk of a possible overdose. It can often be accidental, many take the prescription drug regularly and mix the painkiller with alcohol or other drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady in 2018 with 46,802 deaths. This was followed by a significant increase in 2019 to 49,860 overdose deaths. Oxycodone addiction can also result in serious, chronic health problems. Oxycodone is a toxin, the body has difficulty processing it in large amounts regularly. It can cause liver and kidney function to fail leading to diseases. Since oxycodone is a sedative, it can have an adverse effect on the respiratory system causing problems. Also, other chronic issues like heart disease and cardiac problems. Health complications can continue the longer the drug is taken and abused, causing life-threatening diseases that go beyond just the initial and later symptoms of withdrawal. Luckily, while withdrawal symptoms can feel terrible, it is not often life-threatening, so it’s important to go through health issues like that, rather than the latter. 

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Are you having trouble coming to terms with opioid addiction or have a loved one that you believe may be addicted to opioids? We are here to help with the signs and symptoms of addiction you need to watch out for. Opioid use disorder is a medical condition, defined as not being able to stop using opioids and it having an effect on your life and behaviors. A doctor can diagnose someone with opioid use disorder. It’s important to note, someone struggling with the disorder may not even display symptoms right away. However, there are some common signs to watch out for: 

  • The inability to control opioid use
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Drowsiness and changes in sleep habits
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms
  • Decreased libido
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Changes in exercise habits
  • Isolation from family or friends
  • New financial difficulties

Treatment Options of Oxycodone Withdrawal

If you are suffering from addiction or symptoms of withdrawal there are Oxycodone withdrawal help readily available and steps to take to prevent addiction. 

Oxycodone Pharmacological Treatment Options

Buprenorphine: This is an opioid partial agonist, basically it produces effects of euphoria. However, these effects are weaker than the full effects oxycodone can give. Buprenorphine’s opioid effects increase with each dose until at moderate doses when they level off. It’s called the “ceiling effect” which helps lower the risk of misuse and dependency. The FDA has approved the following buprenorphine products:

  • Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
  • Zubsolv (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets
  • Buprenorphine-containing transmucosal products for opioid dependency

Methadone: An opioid that works by changing how the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It helps to lessen the painful symptoms that come from opiate withdrawal but blocks the euphoric, addictive effects of opiate drugs. It’s recommended when using methadone to also participate in a comprehensive medication-assisted treatment program that offers counseling and social support. 

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation

The road to recovery can be long and difficult, but it is not impossible. Another treatment option is rehab. There are inpatient and outpatient programs all across the Nation ready to help. Usually, an inpatient rehab that offers medical detox would be the best choice for oxycodone users. It is known that the first four to five days of the Oxycodone withdrawal are the hardest. After that, it’s all mental and working to stay clean. Rehab centers can help accomplish this with support groups, emotional and medical support including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Family Counseling
  • Group Therapy 
  • Holistic Therapy

If you are struggling to find a local rehab center check out, Find Addiction Rehabs. They will help find you a program that best suits you and your addiction, Reach out today to learn more.

Steps to Prevent Opioid Addiction

If you feel you or a loved one is not yet at the point of ‘addiction’ or being diagnosed with opioid use disorder, it’s important to take steps to prevent it from happening. Opioids are safest when taken for three or a few days to manage acute pain. The longer on an opioid the more you’re at risk of addiction. If you’re being prescribed a medication that has Oxycodone or other addictive pain ingredients, talk to your doctor on how you can be prescribed the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time needed. If you are living with chronic pain, it’s not recommended to use opioids as a long-term treatment option. There are many other treatments available, like less addictive pain medications and therapy. 

You can help prevent addiction by safeguarding opioid medications when using them and disposing of them properly. Contact local law enforcement on how to properly get rid of medicine, it’s called a takeback program and they’d be happy to help. 

Painkiller addiction has become an ‘Opioid Epidemic’ in the United States. But, hope is not lost. There are ways to battle the addiction, the withdrawals, and the impact opioids can leave behind. It’s all about taking that first step and acknowledging a problem, getting help, and treatment. This epidemic can be beaten, and it starts with you.