Oxycodone is a commonly prescribed opioid pain killer used to manage moderate to severe pain. While certainly effective at minimizing pain, this drug can be highly addictive and habit-forming. This is especially true when a person abuses oxycodone. Recent statistics show that 68 percent of the drug overdose deaths involved an opioid such as oxycodone.
If you or a loved one is unable to stop using oxycodone, seeking treatment can be the best decision you make. Vertava Health of Ohio, located in Ohio, offers a number of treatment programs to help individuals address and overcome an addiction to opioids like oxycodone.
What Is Oxycodone?
The prescription narcotic works in the brain to change how the body feels and responds to pain.
Oxycodone is often confused with OxyContin, but they are not exactly the same thing. Oxycodone is the main ingredient found in many name-brand drugs, such as OxyContin. It is also found in other name-brand medications such as Vicodin, Codeine, Percodan, Percocet, and many more.
It falls in a class of drugs called opioids, which also includes the illegal drug heroin. It is believed that oxycodone is as potent as heroin and affects the nervous system the same way.
No one is immune from developing an addiction to oxycodone. In fact, most abuse starts when a person has been prescribed the drug to alleviate pain following situations such as injury, surgery, or ongoing conditions such as cancer.
Research shows that many people who become addicted to opioids started with a prescription after surgery. From 1999 to 2017, in the United States alone, almost 218,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
If you are under doctor supervision and require opioid treatment, fear of dependence shouldn’t necessarily keep you from using the narcotic for pain management. However, you should be aware of the risks of dependency and addiction so that you can discuss these concerns with your physician.
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Spotting The Signs Of Oxycodone Addiction
People who use oxycodone as prescribed by their doctors may never experience dependence or addiction. However, those that abuse the medication may display a number of signs that may be noticeable to a loved one. If you believe someone is abusing or addicted to oxycodone, being aware of these signs can help determine whether your loved one is in need of professional treatment.
Signs of oxycodone abuse and addiction include:
- Increased Dosage/Use — This is typically a sign that tolerance has formed. A person may start taking the drug in more copious amounts or over a more extended period than prescribed.
- Cravings — The most telltale sign that someone is suffering from an oxycodone addiction is cravings. Individuals addicted to this drug often experience an intense need to use the drug.
- Drug Seeking — A person abusing or addicted to oxycodone will go to great lengths to obtain the drug. This could include things such as doctor shopping, “losing” prescriptions or attempting to purchase the drug illegally. A person’s life is consumed with gaining access to the medication.
- Shift In Priorities — Things that were once important are no longer a priority. An individual may skip work, miss family functions, care less about their physical appearance or lose interest in things he or she once enjoyed.
- Changes In Personality — A person that is addicted to oxycodone may become very defensive. They may be moodier in general and have low levels of energy.
- Blackouts — Someone that has progressed to addiction may be more forgetful and confused. They can also experience unconsciousness when abusing oxycodone.
- Physical Symptoms — A person can experience a host of physical changes if they become addicted to oxycodone. These can include irregular breathing, dizziness, headaches, nausea, low blood pressure, extreme drowsiness, slurred speech, constricted pupils, and many more.
Signs can vary based on how the drug is administered. If someone has progressed from taking pills orally to snorting or injecting, other signs may be present.
When oxycodone is abused, the effects can be very dangerous and can even result in an overdose.
Some common signs of overdose include:
- slowed breathing
- slowed heart rate
- pale face and/or feels clammy to the touch
- limp body
- fingernails or lips that are purple or blue in color
- vomiting or making gurgling noises
- inability to speak
- loss of consciousness
130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose; however, survival is possible. If given in time, there is a medicine called naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an overdose and possibly prevent death. If someone has any signs of an overdose, you should immediately call 911.
Oxycodone Addiction Versus Dependence
There are differences between an oxycodone dependence versus being addicted.
Physical dependency occurs when the body adapts to a drug causing a person to develop a natural tolerance. When this happens, more of the drug is needed to experience relief or to prevent withdrawal symptoms. In this scenario, a doctor can usually wean someone off the medication without the risk of withdrawal or desire to continue using the medication.
Addiction is slightly different. Compulsive behaviors such as cravings, inability to control use, and continued use despite harmful consequences typically occur when addiction is present. Researchers believe this is because prolonged use and increasingly higher doses of oxycodone alter the brain.
For someone to receive a clinical diagnosis of oxycodone addiction, a sufferer must have a minimum of two of the following symptoms present in a 12-month period of time:
- using the drug in higher quantities or over a more extended period than initially intended or prescribed
- unsuccessful attempts to stop or cut down on using the drug
- significant time spent trying to gain access to the drug, use it, or recover from its use
- activities that would typically be enjoyed are given up due to the use of the drug
- intense cravings or an urge to use the drug again
- using the drug in times when it is illegal or dangerous (ex: driving)
- passing up significant obligations due to use of the drug
- continued use of the drug despite problems with relationships
- continued use of the drug despite problems with a person’s physical or psychological health
- withdrawal symptoms or further use of the drug to try and stop withdrawal symptoms tolerance to the drug (ex: the person
- needs more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects)
You must examine your need for oxycodone and talk with your doctor about any dependency concerns. If you are prescribed oxycodone, it is crucial that you only take the drug as needed and follow the doctor’s instructions. You should contact your doctor promptly if you have any signs or symptoms of dependency.
Treatment For Oxycodone Addiction
If you believe you are addicted to oxycodone, know that recovery is possible. The first step is realizing a problem is present and committing to regaining control through proper recovery. Vertava Health of Ohio is a state-of-the-art rehab center that offers customized programs of recovery for individuals struggling with oxycodone abuse or addiction. Each patient will receive individualized treatment that is specific to his or her unique needs.
To learn more about the signs of oxycodone abuse and addiction, contact one of our dedicated treatment specialists today.
- RxList — OxyContin
- SAMSHA — Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in General Medical Settings
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids, Cocaine, and Psychostimulants — United States, 2015–2016
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Opioid Overdose
- Missouri Medicine — The Opioid Epidemic: It’s Time to Place Blame Where It Belongs
- Hospital for Special Surgery — Opioids: Understanding Addiction Versus Dependence
- FDA — What to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Opioids
- Family Doctor — Opioid Addiction