Oxycodone Addiction and Abuse

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid medication that treats symptoms of moderate to severe pain.1 It works by affecting the central nervous system changing the way that the brain feels and interprets pain. Like other opioid medications, oxycodone has an increased risk for addiction and should be taken with caution. Addiction usually occurs when the medication is taken at larger than prescribed amounts or taken for a longer time. Taking high oxycodone dosage over a long time is dangerous and can lead to many adverse effects.

Common Brand Names

Percocet

Percocet is an oxycodone acetaminophen painkiller. This combination drug is used to treat pain and can also reduce a fever.

OxyNeo

OxyNeo is a controlled release oxycodone medication. It treats symptoms of severe chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

What Is The Difference Between Oxycodone-IR And Oxycodone-CR?

Oxycodone-IR is an immediate release version of the medication. The full oxycodone dosage taken is immediately released into the body upon consumption. Oxycodone-CR is a controlled release medication, which means it slowly releases into the body over some time. Both versions of this drug have been effective in clinical trials.2 The main difference is that the immediate release version needs to be taken more frequently to maintain its effects. The controlled release version can last for a longer portion of the day.
According to pubmed.gov, “CR oxycodone every 12 hours was as effective as IR oxycodone four times daily in managing moderate to severe cancer-related pain. Oxycodone-CR was associated with fewer reports of adverse events.”2

Common Street Names

Since some people abuse oxycodone as a recreational drug, it is often bought and sold under street names. Common street names for oxycodone are:3
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Kicker
  • OC
  • Ox
  • Roxy
  • Perc
  • Oxy
Recreational use of this drug is dangerous. It is highly addictive and can lead to many negative health consequences.

Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone

Like oxycodone, hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller.4 You may be wondering what the difference is between hydrocodone vs. oxycodone. Studies have shown that both of these medications work well for treating short-term pain. The main difference is side effects.5 Common side effects of oxycodone are dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, headaches, and euphoria. Side effects of hydrocodone include constipation and stomach pain.

Prescription Use

Frequently, when someone starts using an opioid painkiller, it’s through prescription use for a medical reason. Taking oxycodone for a short time can be useful for treating pain, but taking a higher oxycodone dosage than what is prescribed or using the medication over a longer time increases the likelihood of dependence.

Dependence

Once dependence develops, cravings to take the substance just to feel normal may begin: this is the start of an addiction. Oxycodone can create physical and psychological dependence, leading to cravings and withdrawal symptoms when use suddenly stops.

Addiction

Oxycodone addiction is dangerous and can lead to many adverse effects. When this drug is abused over a long period, it becomes harder to stop. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction, there are resources available to help.

Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction

In cases of addiction, there are some signs and symptoms you can look for. Symptoms of addiction may be physical or behavioral.

Physical Signs

Physical signs of addiction may include:
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Behavioral Signs

Behavioral signs may include:
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Compulsive behavior
  • Problems at work or not showing up to work
  • Drug-seeking behavior, going to multiple doctor's appointments
  • Acting secretive, hiding pills or prescription bottles in unusual places

Oxycodone Side Effects

Oxycodone side effects can be severe and long-term use can take a toll on both mind and body. If you’re struggling with addiction or experiencing side effects, it’s essential to seek medical help. There are resources available.

Short-Term

Common short-term side effects include:6
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea

Long-Term

Common short-term side effects include:6
  • Heart failure
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Aches and cramps
  • Increased pressure of spinal fluid
  • Coma
  • Swelling in limbs
  • Death

Overdose

When oxycodone is taken for an extended time, tolerance will develop. Tolerance means that the body has gotten so used to the substance’s presence that higher doses must be taken to get the previous effects. This can be dangerous and lead to overdose. In cases of overdose, medical attention is necessary immediately. Common signs of overdose are:
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow, and difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma
  • Excessive sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion, delirium, and acting drunk
  • Seizures
  • Blue-tinted fingernails and lips

Withdrawal

Due to dependence, withdrawal symptoms occur if the oxycodone use suddenly stops. Withdrawal symptoms can be serious. This is why it’s essential to seek medical help, such as going to a treatment center while detoxing. Common withdrawal symptoms are restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps.

Treatment Options

Detox

The first step in the treatment process is detox. When oxycodone use stops, withdrawal symptoms start. Going to a treatment center during the detox process will help make it as comfortable as possible and give you around the clock medical support.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

The first step in the treatment process is detox. When oxycodone use stops, withdrawal symptoms start. Going to a treatment center during the detox process will help make it as comfortable as possible and give you around the clock medical support.7

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab can be a good idea when treating oxycodone addiction. Inpatient treatment allows you to stay at a treatment center during detox and recovery. This will enable you to live in a stable environment away from temptations, create a positive support system, and receive around the clock medical support while also attending behavioral therapy to work on coping mechanisms and other underlying problems that may come up. An inpatient treatment program will provide the skills needed to maintain sobriety long term.

Resources

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