Oxycodone is a prescription drug that easily falls under the classification of Opioid Pain Relievers. It should be noted that the drug, which is often compared to Morphine and/or methadone, is strong. Hence, it is usually used to treat or provide relief from severe pain that may have resulted from surgery or injury.
It is also common for the drug to be used to treat long-lasting pain.
Oxycodone can be found in other products or drugs such as Percocet, OxyContin and Endocet just to name a few. Five milligrams of Oxycodone can be found in Percocet, which in turn helps provide relief for at least five hours. Some products are known to contain more than just five milligrams, which increases the risk of abuse and/or addiction.
Cases of addiction and abuse are especially likely if the individual taking the drug takes more pills than prescribed. Behind the scenes, Oxycodone affects the Central Nervous System. Once it’s in the brain, it can increase the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. This is what leads to abuse and addiction.
Below, we take a closer look at how the use of the drug can lead to addiction.
Oxycodone and Its Effect on The Brain
Once Oxycodone is consumed, released into the bloodstream and exposed to the brain, it binds to certain brain receptors. Once this is done, it then encourages the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine, also known as a feel-good hormone, is what’s responsible for the feeling of euphoria.
Oxycodone, since it’s an Opioid, also gets rid of the physical pain the user may be experiencing. These effects, however, over time can easily become tolerated. This then pushes the user to consume more pills to experience the same effects. Why is this?
The amount of dopamine produced under the influence of Oxycodone is more than what the brain produces normally.
More use of the drug will then cause the brain to produce less and less of the dopamine naturally. Hence, going without the drug will make you feel like you are unable to function as normal. If you succumb and continue to take more of the drug, your brain will be unable to produce dopamine unless under the influence of Oxycodone.
In summary, using the drug as prescribed helps relieve pain but can still lead to euphoria. The individual, wanting to experience a sense of euphoria again, may start consuming more for longer. Long term use for purposes that have nothing to do with pain relief then leads to abuse.
Abuse is what leads to tolerance. This is when the person needs more and more of the drug to enter a state of euphoria. Once this line is crossed, the individual, who consistently has trouble stopping, is said to be addicted.
People that are already addicted tend to try and manipulate the effectiveness of the drug by chewing or crushing it. Some even go as far as diluting the crushed pills and injecting the liquid straight into the bloodstream.
Others tend to mix the drug with alcohol and other sedatives. Doing this can lead to an overdose and ultimately death. If you’re afraid a loved one may have overdosed, then be sure to administer Naloxone.
Naloxone will give the medical team enough time to save your loved one’s life. Signs to look for if you suspect that someone has overdosed on Oxycodone include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Trouble breathing
Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction
How can you tell that the individual is addicted? Is it the unusual state of calmness that he/she is constantly in? Or is it because he simply can’t stop consuming the drug?
If you’re worried that someone you love is addicted, below are some of the signs to look out for:
- Inability to stop using the drug
- A drop in academic performance
- A sharp change and decline in professional performance
- Inability to stop the use of the drug despite its negative effects
- An increase in dose or usage of the drug
- The user has trouble relating well with others
- Withdrawal symptoms kick in at any attempt to quit
- Loss of interest in activities
- The user tends to crave for the drug
Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse
Oxycodone abuse and/or addiction should be taken seriously. If not dealt with, a milligram more than necessary can lead to an overdose or death. Below are some of the immediate side effects of abusing the drug:
- Dry mouth
- Vivid dreaming
- Low blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Blurred Vision
- Pain relief
Please note, that a patient taking the drug as prescribed may also experience the above side effects.
Side Effects of Long-Term Oxycodone Abuse
Eventually, a patient should be able to stop using the drug. What if the individual already crossed the line from use to addiction? Then there’s a chance they’ve been using the drug for longer than necessary.
This spells a problem, not only for the individual’s physical health but mental health as well. Such problems include:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Swelling limbs
Abusing Oxycodone at the moment can seem like a good idea, but the consequences are often fatal. Other than the above side effects, people have a higher risk of contracting diseases such as HIV/Aids. This is because abusers tend to crush the pills and dissolve them to inject them into the bloodstream. Sharing needles with other abusers heightens the risk of contracting infections.
Other than putting your health at risk, abusing the drug can place you on the wrong side of the law. If you are found in possession of Oxycodone that is not prescribed to you can have you looking at a criminal record.