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One of the most powerful and highly addictive prescription drugs available, oxycodone belongs to a class of painkillers called opioids. When taken as prescribed, drugs containing oxycodone like OxyContin, Roxicodone and Percocet can help relieve severe pain. Treatment can effectively help people addicted to oxycodone.
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Oxycodone can cause minor side effects like constipation and depressed breathing. The drug can lead to dependency and addiction. Oxycodone can cause severe side effects including death if misused or abused.
The U.S. government lists oxycodone as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse that can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Law enforcement seized more than 1.2 million doses of oxycodone in 2013, up 535 percent from 2012.
The illegal use of oxycodone, sometimes referred to as a “white collar” crime, increased rapidly in the last two decades among all economic classes and ethnicities. The increase led to an upsurge in opioid-related overdoses, growing from 2,749 deaths in 1999 to 11,693 deaths in 2011. The drugs responsible for the most deaths contained oxycodone, hydrocodone or morphine.
Fortunately, the amount of people seeking treatment for oxycodone addiction is also increasing. Rehabilitation centers can help people recover from prescription drug addiction and return to normal life.
The side effects of oxycodone are usually minimal when taken as prescribed. Patients may feel nauseous, or experience headaches or constipation. Oxycodone can also make daily functions like driving difficult.
However, studies show people who take oxycodone develop a tolerance to it and need increased doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. More serious side effects can occur.
Other activities involving illegal drug use, like using needles, can lead to serious disease. Long-term use of oxycodone can also lead to dependence or addiction.
Side effects of abusing products containing oxycodone:
Long-term oxycodone use can negatively affect various parts of the body, especially the brain. Nerves in the brain adapt to the regular presence of the drug and begin to resist it, leading to an increased tolerance.
However, the rest of the body doesn’t develop an increased tolerance. Other body parts, like the heart, can be damaged by high doses of oxycodone.
People who become addicted to oxycodone also tend to experience changes in lifestyle. They may experience frustration or depression if they are unable to quit the drug on their own. Using oxycodone can prevent them from keeping a job or maintaining relationships with friends and family.
In some cases, the only thing that matters is obtaining and using the drug, despite dangerous consequences. This compulsive drug seeking behavior is a disease called addiction.
Common lifestyle side effects of long-term oxycodone use include:
Prescription drug addiction is a disease of the brain. The nerves in the brain program themselves to seek things that are pleasurable, like pain relief.
Small doses of oxycodone for short periods of time don’t usually lead to addiction, and therapeutic use of oxycodone rarely leads to addiction.
People ages 25-54 have the highest death rates from opioid abuse, but the rate of overdose from people ages 55-64 grew the most during the 2000s. Non-Hispanic white people account for the vast majority of opioid-related deaths, with non-Hispanic black people and Hispanic people maintaining similar rates of overdose.
People with a history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse or addiction are the most likely to become addicted to oxycodone. Other factors include family history of substance abuse or conditions that cause chronic pain.
People with an oxycodone use disorder generally crush pills and snort, chew or inject them in order to receive a full dose of the drug quickly. This is the most dangerous way to consume oxycodone, increasing the potential for overdose. Mixing oxycodone with other drugs or alcohol can also be deadly.
Decades of research led to the development of proven methods for fighting addiction. Health care professionals at rehabilitation clinics are equipped with tools to cure addiction and help people return to normal lives.
Doctors and therapists treat oxycodone addiction using both behavioral and pharmacological methods.
Behavioral methods include counseling, group therapy, and contingency management to help people transition back to life without oxycodone. They also help prepare people for relapse and teach them how to continue treatment plans if a relapse occurs.
Pharmacological methods include using drugs like methadone, naltrexone or buprenorphine to counteract the brain’s cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
Treatments plans are tailored to individuals, with some lasting longer than others. Addiction is usually a long-term disease and many patients continue attending support groups or other forms of therapy after their stay at a rehabilitation center is complete.
In 2007, Purdue Pharma settled federal charges for illegally marketing OxyContin for $635 million. But the state most affected by Purdue Pharma’s false advertising, Kentucky, did not agree to its part of the settlement and is suing Purdue in state court in a case that has been drawn out for years.
Kentucky claims Purdue falsely advertised OxyContin’s safety and misled consumers, doctors and the government about the drug’s risk for addiction. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 billion in damages for social, health care and other costs.
By 2010, addiction to OxyContin was so rampant that the FDA forced Purdue to reformulate its drug to make it more difficult to abuse. The new formulation cannot be crushed into small pieces or dissolved, preventing people from snorting or injecting it.
Across the country, medical organizations and the U.S. government are taking steps to combat the opioid epidemic. Prescription drug abuse has been a key part of the White House’s national drug control policy during President Obama’s time in office.
Health care providers are receiving education to help prevent and recognize addiction, and barriers to treatment are being removed so people can get the help that they need.