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Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate-based painkiller prescribed for chronic and severe pain. It is manufactured from thebaine, an alkaloid chemically related to morphine and codeine and found in the poppy plant. It is usually prescribed to cancer and arthritis patients suffering from unbearable pain especially after surgery.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, approximately 3.7 million people aged 12 years and above misused oxycodone products in the past year. Oxycodone, available in the pill form, is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Also known as OC, Roxy, Kicker, and Blue dynamite, it is easily available on the streets, leading to its widespread use and abuse. Oxycodone is considered to be highly potent with 20 mg of it being equivalent to 30 mg of morphine.

Effects of oxycodone abuse

Oxycodone abuse may lead to addiction, overdose, and even death. The body develops a tolerance to the drug over a period of time, leading to an increased dosage. Some of the side effects of oxycodone abuse are:

  • Severe itching and allergies
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Euphoria
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constricted pupils
  • Low blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Confusion
  • Slow breathing
  • Inhibited reflexes

Combining oxycodone with alcohol or any other drugs can be fatal causing respiratory disorders, which suppress breathing and cause death. A low dosage can make a user restless and aggressive. Though its use begins with a prescription, a patient tends to continue using it even after the prescribed time period is over leading to dependency and finally addiction.

Signs and symptoms of oxycodone abuse

There are many psychological, physical, and behavioral signs of addiction to oxycodone. Some of these are:

  • Using oxycodone in high doses and too frequently without the intent to abuse
  • An inability to stop or cut back use
  • Excessive and uncontrolled craving for the drug
  • Spending a large amount of time and money acquiring oxycodone
  • Getting distracted at work, school, community, and sports due to drug use
  • Developing a tolerance to oxycodone, therefore, requiring progressively higher doses
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when drug is not available or when the dosage is reduced
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Withdrawal symptoms

Oxycodone has a high potential for psychological and physical dependence. Users go through severe withdrawal symptoms and experience strong cravings in case of abrupt stoppage of drug use. These symptoms can last for about a week. Some of the withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone abuse are:

  • Severe stomach cramps/pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Suicide ideation
  • Runny nose
  • Irregular heart beat
  • High blood pressure

Due to the high level of cravings experienced during a withdrawal, a user tends to relapse while undergoing addiction treatment.

Oxycodone and teens

According to reports, nearly 1 out of 7 teenagers in the U.S. have acknowledged taking a prescription drug without a prescription. Adolescents use prescription drugs, like oxycodone, extensively because of its easy availability. Unlike street drugs, they are available among family and friends as a part of their medications. What begins as an experiment out of curiosity gradually becomes a dependence and eventually an addiction.

Although reports have shown a continual decline in prescription abuse among adolescents since 2009, the last four years have shown a more or less steady percentage use among students from 8th grade at 0.8 percent.

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Treatment for oxycodone addiction

Like all other opioids, oxycodone addiction can be managed with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Oxycodone addiction treatment includes treatment with opioid agonists and antagonists. An agonist is a medication similar to opioid that binds to the same receptors as oxycodone in the brain. Antagonists act opposite to opioids but also bind to the opioid receptors in the brain blocking opioids. Medicines like methadone, naltrexone, and Suboxone (containing buprenorphine and naloxone) is used in opioid addiction treatment to help reduce the side effects of withdrawal and curb cravings which may lead to a relapse.

Adeona Healthcare, a rehab center for teens aged between 12 to 17, provides comprehensive treatment programs for teen drug or alcohol addiction, mental disorders, and dual-diagnosis. The highly skilled and experienced staff at Adeona Healthcare works with the patients to design individualized treatment programs delivering the intended treatment goals. For more information about our drug treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline 888-379-9360 and speak with a counselor. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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