Oxymorphone, brand name Opana, is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller. Like other opioids, it alters the way the brain perceives pain so the body does not feel it as much. Oxymorphone is a Schedule II controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and addiction.
What Is Oxymorphone?
Like most opiates, oxymorphone is an opioid receptor agonist. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the gut and nervous system. With that binding, oxymorphone inhibits the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
It also interacts with dopamine and other pleasure signaling chemicals which produce a feeling of relaxation and happiness.
Opana is intended for the management of acute pain. It may be prescribed when other pain-relieving drugs fail to offer relief.
Signs And Symptoms Of Oxymorphone Abuse
The symptoms of oxymorphone abuse are similar to that of other opioids with one critical exception. This drug does not create the same level of the euphoria as associated with heroin, oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) or hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco).
People who abuse oxymorphone (Opana) may experience:
- drowsiness and relaxation
- nausea and vomiting
- pinpoint pupils
- dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
- abdominal pain
- changes in vision
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- red eyes
Over time, a person may develop a tolerance to Opana even if they take it as prescribed. This leads some people to take more of it to experience the same pain-relieving or euphoric effects.
Increasing dosage without a doctor’s permission raises the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Dependence is the body’s reliance on the drug, and addiction is a mental craving for it.
Addiction can affect many areas of a person’s life. Someone who has developed an addiction to oxymorphone may have financial problems from buying drugs and difficulty in relationships. They may begin missing work or school, visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions, or obtaining Opana illicitly.
Physical dependence and addiction often occur together, and both may cause a person to take more and more oxymorphone, raising toxicity levels in their body.
Oxymorphone Overdose Symptoms
When someone takes a large dose of oxymorphone, or repeatedly take another dose before the first has left their system, they may overdose.
Oxymorphone (Opana) overdose symptoms include:
- extreme drowsiness
- muscle weakness
- cold, clammy skin
- pinpoint pupils
- slow heart rate
- slow, shallow, or irregular breathing
- low blood pressure
- heart attack
Oxymorphone is a central nervous system depressant that is capable of suppressing heart rate and breathing enough to cause death. The risk of this increases when the drug is mixed with other depressants, such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, and other opioids.
How Is Oxymorphone Abused?
Since oxymorphone is a prescription medication, any use of it without a prescription or outside of prescription guidelines is considered abuse.
Opana is often abused orally, but may also be crushed and snorted or mixed with water and injected intravenously. These methods produce a more powerful effect because they allow the drug to be absorbed and take effect immediately. Because of this, they also increase the risk of overdose.
The extended-release version of oxymorphone, marketed as Opana ER, was taken off the market in 2017 because it was widely abused by injection.
Signs Of Oxymorphone Withdrawal
If someone is physically dependent on oxymorphone, they will have withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop using it. These symptoms and their severity may vary based on dosage, delivery route, and the individual’s overall health.
Symptoms of oxymorphone withdrawal can include:
- muscle aches and pain
- poor appetite
- runny nose
- abdominal cramping
Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and can be painful. Occasionally, there are life-threatening complications during withdrawal, such as aspiration pneumonia or extreme dehydration.
Oxymorphone carries a significant risk of overdose for those who go through withdrawal and then relapse. The body does not have the same tolerance after withdrawal. If someone with an Opana addiction takes the same dose they did before coming off the drug, they could overdose.
Because of these risks, the prospect of coming off the drug keeps some people who struggle with Opana addiction from seeking treatment.
Medically Supervised Detox From Oxymorphone
Medically supervised detox is an inpatient service that helps individuals safely clear their body of oxymorphone. With constant monitoring by a team of trained professionals, a person has a much lower risk of complication and relapse during the withdrawal process.
Often, medically supervised detox is the first step in addiction treatment. Reducing physical cravings for oxymorphone makes it easier to focus on healing the mind from addiction.
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Oxymorphone (Opana) Addiction Treatment
Treatment for oxymorphone addiction at Vertava Health of Ohio involves a specialized plan for each individual. This allows us to address unique needs and provide the most effective care.
Our inpatient rehab program uses behavior modification techniques like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to deal with unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that are often at the root of addiction. We also offer dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental disorders that can lead to relapse.
Opioid addiction can have drastic effects on a person’s life, health, and relationships. We encourage bonding with staff and peers, as well as a reconnection with family members, through individual, group, and family therapy.
Outdoor recreation and experiential therapies are also available at Vertava Health of Ohio to support physical and mental health, which are essential to lifelong recovery.
- Journal of Analytical Toxicology — An Overdose Death Involving the Insufflation of Extended-Release Oxymorphone Tablets
- Medline Plus — Oxymorphone
- National Institute on Biotechnology Information — Physiology, signaling, and pharmacology of opioid receptors...
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — What classes of prescription drugs are commonly misused?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration — FDA requests removal of Opana ER for risks related to abuse
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed — LABEL: Opana - oxymorphone hydrochloride tablet