As an opioid, oxycodone is a potent pain reliever and relaxant. It causes a powerful euphoric effect that makes it attractive for recreational use. It is also highly addictive, which can lead to severe physical, emotional and social consequences.
Some people become addicted to oxycodone after using it for recreational purposes. Others develop an addiction after using an extended oxycodone prescription for pain.
Oxycodone addiction can have serious complications, including financial difficulties, legal issues, strained relationships, health problems and even overdose and death. Fortunately, treatment can reduce the risk of these problems and improve the quality of life for those suffering from oxycodone addiction.
Signs And Symptoms Of Oxycodone Addiction
Oxycodone is marketed under the brand names OxyContin and Percocet. Since it is a prescription drug, it may be difficult to tell if someone is abusing it or has become addicted to it, but there are some things to look for that can indicate a problem.
Signs and symptoms of opioid addiction include:
- a constant state of sedation
- repeated oxycodone use or drug seeking
- oxycodone use without a prescription
- prescriptions from multiple doctors, also known as “doctor shopping”
- an excessive amount of pill bottles (empty or full)
- inability to control drug use
- trouble with work, school or personal relationships
- using oxycodone to deal with everyday situations
Side Effects Of Oxycodone Abuse
Like other opioids, oxycodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This means that it slows the nervous system to produce a calming effect, which can be quite profound at high doses. CNS depressants slow breathing and heart rate, which may cause sleepiness.
Opioids are often abused because it causes:
- extreme relaxation
- reduced anxiety
- pain relief
It may also cause unwanted side effects, such as:
- dry mouth
- stomach pain
- sweating or shivering
- rash or hives
- difficulty breathing
- nausea or vomiting
- loss of coordination
- mood changes
Some side effects associated with oxycodone can be serious and require immediate medical care, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Using oxycodone frequently, taking high doses and prolonged use can increase the risk of these side effects and their severity.
Can You Overdose On Oxycodone?
Opioid overdoses have been on the rise across the United States in the past few years, and oxycodone is no exception. Taking too much of this drug or taking it too often can cause it to rise to toxic levels in the body.
As a CNS depressant, oxycodone can cause severe respiratory depression, loss of consciousness, coma, and death when too much is present in the bloodstream. Combining opioids with other depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or other opioids, makes overdose even more likely.
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Oxycodone Addiction And Dependence
Oxycodone use can lead to addiction and physical dependence, even when taken as prescribed. Taking it recreationally or in any way outside of prescription guidelines increases this risk.
Psychological dependence, or addiction, results from changes in brain structure that occur when someone takes opioids for a while. These changes affect an individual’s thoughts and behavior, compelling them to continue using oxycodone even though they are aware of the danger.
Physical dependence is a condition in which the body becomes so accustomed to the presence of a drug that it begins to rely on it to feel normal. When someone stops taking oxycodone, the body tries to adjust to the change in chemistry. This results in uncomfortable—and often dangerous—withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
The presence of withdrawal symptoms is a clear indication of physical dependence. If someone has been taking oxycodone for more than a few weeks and then feels sick when they stop, they have likely become dependent on it.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- muscle aches
Healthcare professionals use the word “detoxification” or simply “detox” to describe withdrawal, reflecting the body’s struggle to rid itself of the toxins from drug abuse.
Detoxification is a slow process, and a significant shock to the body, so withdrawal symptoms can be severe and last a long time. Severe and prolonged withdrawal symptoms often lead people to relapse, especially without professional support and treatment.
Medically Supervised Detox
Because addiction and dependence often occur together, treatment for opioid addiction usually begins with a medically supervised detox program. It can be difficult for someone to focus on mentally healing from addiction while their body continues to crave the drug.
At The Bluffs, our team of medical professionals monitors each individual through the withdrawal process. We administer medications as needed to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and ease discomfort.
The detox process may include tapering the dose of oxycodone rather than stopping it abruptly so the body can gradually adjust.
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
Once detox is complete, a person may enter our inpatient rehab program, which uses evidence-based practices to examine the causes of addiction and replace unhealthy behaviors.
Two foundational treatment methods at The Bluffs are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). CBT teaches individuals to identify and deal with thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can promote drug use. DBT helps them better control their reactions, accept their feelings, and express their emotions.
Oxycodone addiction treatment is most effective when tailored to the individual’s situation. Each person has a different experience with addiction, and we ensure that their unique needs are met through a blend of therapies—such as yoga, adventure and nutritional support—that promote whole-person healing.