What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opioid prescription drug, also known as Percocet or Oxycontin, used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is an opiate, meaning that it is synthetically made but shares the same basic chemical structure as heroin and other opiate painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Even though it is a prescription medication, oxycodone is highly addictive. When taking oxycodone for pain management, it is critical to follow the doctor’s instructions as to how often and how much oxycodone to take. Even when taken as directed, it is possible to become addicted to oxycodone. If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has developed a dependency on oxycodone, seek treatment from a drug rehab like Choices Recovery.
How does Oxycodone Affect the Brain?
Oxycodone interferes with pain messages from the body to the brain, making it an effective medication for pain management. It binds to pain receptors in the brain and spinal cord to prevent the release of a chemical GABA. GABA signals the brain to stop production of dopamine, a chemical that produces feelings of pleasure. When a person is hurt, GABA production prevents dopamine release, creating pain. Oxycodone reverses this sequence and floods the brain with dopamine, preventing feelings of pain and producing a euphoric high sought after by abusers.
Oxycodone is extremely addictive because of the way that it interacts with the brain to create such feelings of pleasure. The user becomes tolerant to the drug over time, meaning that a larger or more frequent dose is needed to produce the same effect; the current treatment will no longer work. Dependence begins when the body physically requires the drug and without it, the person will experience extreme cravings for oxycodone and may feel symptoms of withdrawal. Addiction can drive people to behave outside of their typical character, even going so far as to steal the drug or request multiple prescriptions from different doctors to obtain more oxycodone. Because people with an opioid prescription drug addiction tend to take a higher dose than a doctor would prescribe, the risk of overdose is even greater than with someone using it as directed.
People can become addicted to oxycodone when using it for a legitimate medical need or as a recreational drug. Between 21 and 29 percent of individuals using opiate painkillers medically misuse them, and 8 to 12 percent become addicted. These people are at greater risk to become heroin users because heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain. About 80% of heroin users began abusing prescription opiates.
Side Effects of Oxycodone
Oxycodone is very effective as a painkiller, but unfortunately, it comes with a host of side effects. The greatest danger is an overdose, which can be fatal. Oxycodone can cause breathing rates so slow as to cause death. Thankfully, there is a medication available, naloxone, which can reverse overdose when administered in time. Other short-term side effects of oxycodone include:
- Dry mouth
- Appetite loss
- Mood changes
Long-term abuse can have a lasting, negative impact on the body, such as:
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Brain damage
Chronic overuse of acetaminophen (Tylenol) damages the liver, so people who abuse use oxycodone with acetaminophen have a greater risk of liver failure.
Treatment for Addiction to Opioid Prescription Drugs
Treatment for oxycodone addiction begins with detoxification at a drug addiction rehab center. Treatment can be either inpatient or outpatient and may use medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle aches
After detox, it is easy to relapse, especially if oxycodone is readily available. The support of a rehab center can help during this difficult time. Call Choices Recovery today if you need help for an addiction to opioid prescription drugs or if you would lilke more information about the side effects of oxycodone.