When a person takes a medication in a different way than it was originally prescribed, it is known as substance misuse. Opioids, including oxycodone, are pain-relieving medications that are often misused.
The misuse of prescription drugs is an ongoing problem. Within the United States, more than six percent of people over the age of 12 misuse prescription drugs at least once per year.
Drug misuse can lead to health problems or even fatal overdoses. Additionally, people are more likely to engage in risky behaviors when they misuse medications, which can lead to injury or disease. These problems can be accompanied by high healthcare costs, instances of violence or crime, and negative impacts on communities.
Oxycodone is an opioid drug that is sometimes prescribed as a pain reliever. This medication comes in the form of pills, tablets, or a liquid. Oxycodone is sold under brand names like OxyContin, Percodan, and Tylox.
Oxycodone attaches to receptor proteins located within nerve cells in the brain and other parts of the body. This prevents the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. Oxycodone also triggers the release of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) like dopamine, which creates feelings of pleasure and reinforces behaviors that lead to a reward.
In addition to lessening pain, oxycodone can cause “high” symptoms that include feelings of euphoria and increased relaxation.
The most common side effects of oxycodone include:
Oxycodone can also cause several other problems with different organs of the body. When you take oxycodone, you may notice heart palpitations, a skin rash, abdominal pain, diarrhea, feelings of confusion or irritability, hallucinations, or seizures.
It’s best to avoid taking oxycodone with acetaminophen (Tylenol). Using these two drugs together on a regular basis can lead to severe liver damage.
Oxycodone is legal when prescribed by a doctor. When your doctor prescribes this medication to you, they will tell you exactly how and when to use it and what dose you should take. It is important to follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to clarify any instructions you don’t understand.
When you’re not using oxycodone as directed, you may be misusing it. Misuse occurs when:
Some people who use oxycodone develop tolerance to or physical dependence on the drug.
Tolerance occurs when your body gets used to oxycodone, and you need to use more in order to feel an effect.
Dependence happens when you use oxycodone on a regular basis and your brain adjusts so that it needs the drug to work properly. You can become tolerant to or dependent on oxycodone whether you are taking it with a prescription or misusing it.
If you are dependent on oxycodone and you stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal. If you’re trying to stop using the medication, this is why it’s important to slowly taper off. Some of the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:
Misusing oxycodone can also lead to an opioid use disorder (OUD), an illness in which a person continues to take oxycodone despite experiencing negative consequences. There are several oxycodone drug abuse symptoms that may signal that you have an OUD:
Yes, it’s possible to overdose while using oxycodone. Overdoses can be fatal. In 2019, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving oxycodone and other prescription opioids.
Signs of an oxycodone overdose include:
Oxycodone overdoses can be treated with a medication called naloxone, sold under the brand names Narcan and Kloxxado.
Naloxone blocks the effects of opioid drugs. If you or a loved one overdoses on oxycodone, someone should administer naloxone right away and then call 911 to receive emergency medical care. If overdose symptoms return, more naloxone can be given every two or three minutes.
If you are experiencing effects of oxycodone abuse, there are treatments that may help.
Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is a type of treatment in which drugs are used to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT can be used when a person is dependent on opioids.
The most commonly used medication for MAT is Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
Mental health treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be useful in helping treat OUD. This type of therapy can help people change their beliefs and behaviors surrounding oxycodone use and learn how to more effectively manage stress.
Other treatments such as physical therapy can also help people better manage chronic pain, if that is why they began using oxycodone in the first place.
Bicycle Health uses Suboxone as a primary medication for dealing with opioid dependence. To learn more about the benefits and the effects of Suboxone, schedule a time to speak with one of our MAT professionals, or call us today at (844) 943-2514.
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