Dangers of Long Term Oxycodone Abuse

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription opiate analgesic or “painkiller” that works by changing the way that the brain responds to pain. It is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, and commonly supplied under the brand names OxyContin and Percocet. Oxycodone has a high potential for abuse. When prescribed the medication users begin to get used to the euphoric feeling that they receive.

Even taking this medication as prescribed can be a big risk for addiction. The more it is used a tolerance is built up and they will eventually need more to get the effect that is needed to help with pain. Once they medication is no longer supplied and the user stops taking it they may experience withdrawal symptoms. At this point the user turns into an abuser and tries to get the medication anyway possible. Oxycodone can produce intensely positive feelings and rewarding sensations in the user. As such, it has a high potential for abuse. When used recreationally, there is a high risk for overdose, as recreational methods of ingesting it often accelerate the absorption of large, dangerous amounts of the drug.

Oxycodone can come in liquid or pill form (with immediate and controlled-release variations), and is often prescribed as a combination product with other drugs such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, with each combination having a different brand name. Brand names include OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, and Percodan. Street names for oxycodone include “oxy,” “kickers,” “blue,” and “hillbilly heroin,” among others.

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone

When taken as prescribed, oxycodone can bring about the following desirable feelings:

  • Euphoria
  • Extreme relaxation
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation

Side Effects

Oxycodone is a powerful opioid painkiller. Its positive, pain-reducing effects can also come with several unwanted side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Mood changes

These side effects can make the user uncomfortable, and tend to get worse as the dose increases. Other side effects can be much more serious and may require immediate medical help:

  • Irregular heart rate and/or rhythm
  • Chest pain
  • Hives, itching, or rash
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Postural hypotension
  • Lightheadedness

Some of the most dangerous side effects of oxycodone use are associated with the breathing problems that it may create. A markedly slowed respiratory rate can quickly turn life-threatening, especially in overdose situations.

Long Term Effects of Oxycodone

When using Oxycodone for a long period of time it can affect everyone differently. For some Oxycodone, can be very affective for help with severe chronic pain. Even using it as needed it is not safe to depend on it and use it more often than directed by the Dr. Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has been determined to have highly addictive properties and a high potential for dependence.

Oxycodone dependence can be both psychological and physical:

  • Psychological dependence often stems from the feeling of euphoria that users experience at first. Users want to continue feeling as euphoric and relaxed as their early use, sometimes even seeking higher doses in hopes of amplifying the effects.
  • Physical dependence on oxycodone involves adaptation to a persistently heightened presence of drug in one’s system. After some duration, certain physiologic processes are impeded when the drug isn’t available. Additionally, tolerance can quickly develop a phenomenon that means you will eventually need more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same effects.

Oxycodone use has been found to be associated with kidney and liver failure, as well as a reduction in the brain’s ability to adapt to new input, which may account for the shift from controlled to compulsive use. Combination products present even further risk. Chronic or extended use of any medication combining oxycodone and acetaminophen may result in severe liver damage. This risk is profoundly increased when an oxycodone/acetaminophen combination drug is abused simultaneously with alcohol.

It is very common when prescribed Oxycodone or any opiate that is a narcotic to become dependent on it. An addiction can be developed with no thoughts about it ever happening. If you or someone you love has developed an addiction and are unsure what to do, do not hesitate to call for help today, there are people ready to help with any questions and get you pointed in the right direction.