Oxycodone is a highly prevalent medication prescribed to millions of Americans annually. A form of opioid, a substance that responds to opioid receptors within the brain, this class of drug is most frequently offered after surgeries and other medical procedures. While effective at fighting moderate to severe pain, oxycodone has a devastating side effect that affects over 2 million Americans each year: addiction.
The Biology of Oxycodone
Like other drugs in its class, oxycodone is prescribed in both hospital and outpatient settings to manage painful conditions. As an opioid, oxycodone functions by attaching to the mu, kappa, and delta receptors within the brain. This mechanism affects the central nervous system by altering both physical and emotional perceptions of pain. Patients who take opioid medications like oxycodone often feel euphoric, carefree, and pain-free. Similar to heroin in form and function, a few weeks of use are all it takes to set the foundation for addiction.
Due to its powerful nature, oxycodone is considered a Schedule II controlled substance that is only available with a doctor’s prescription. Most physicians provide this class of drug in limited quantities without multiple refills. However, opioids are readily available on the street or over the internet, leading to a wave of addiction in both teens and adults. Tragically, approximately 18,000 prescriptions opioid users die each year from overdose.
6 Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction
For most substance abusers, oxycodone addiction starts with legal use that spirals out of control over time. Addiction can develop rapidly; as usage continues, tolerance builds, leading to a need for higher doses to feel the same pleasant side effects. In time, the changes to brain chemistry lead to a physical compulsion, making it hard to function without regular access.
Common signs of oxycodone addiction include:
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Euphoria and lightheartedness
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Low blood pressure
- Slow or challenged breathing
- Unconsciousness or coma
Addicted individuals may also display drug-seeking behaviors, including secretive activity, lying, theft, and problems at work or in interpersonal relationships.
Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction
For those addicted to oxycodone, recovery can be an uphill battle. While many addicts believe they can recover alone, this is rarely the case. In fact, attempting to detox from an opioid addiction can be dangerous, leading to critical withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and thoughts of suicide.
In order to control effects of withdrawal and prevent against drug use, patients are encouraged to detox in a rehabilitation center under the care of physicians and nurses. While in a detox program, patients can receive help for side effects, including medications to control urges and suppress unpleasant symptoms. In some cases, doctors will prescribe opioid antagonists like Subutex and Suboxone that can reduce cravings and lessen the effects of opioid use in the case of relapse.
All rehabilitation is accompanied by counseling, both individual and in group settings. Inpatient rehab programs are most common for oxycodone abuse, but some patients choose outpatient therapy instead. After successfully getting clean, most addicts will continue on in 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous indefinitely.
Oxycodone can be very effective when used properly, but abuse of opioid drugs can be life threatening. If you or someone you love begins to show signs of addiction, professional interference is absolutely essential to encourage full a recovery.
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