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Treating Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone belongs to the opioids' family, a semi-synthetic drug made from thebaine. It is usually indicated in case of severe pain caused by dislocation, injuries, arthritis, bursitis, neuralgia, fractures, lower back pain or cancer pain. The drug is similar to codeine actions and structure. This agent is known for couple of decades, but it only became popular in the late 1980s, due to the abuse and addiction potential.

If patients only take the drug to control pain or as prescribed, the risks of addiction are pretty much inexistent. However, if patients start to use more than necessary to manage pain, or even worse, they take the drug just to feel high, abuse takes place. Therefore, there is a warning not to take the drug without medical supervision. Because taking oxycodone against the intended use or without prescription may have dangerous consequences. Overdose can even lead to death.

How Addictive Is Oxycodone?

Although it is considered a valuable analgesic, oxycodone, like other opioids, has a powerful potential of addiction, similar to the morphine's addiction potential. Furthermore, if combined with other drugs, it presents even greater risks of addiction.

The major concern regarding the use of oxycodone is that it may cause physical dependence and tolerance after a couple of weeks or months of using the drug. Having similar effects to morphine, oxycodone appeals to the same communities who abuse heroin or morphine.

People who abuse taking oxycodone usually take the tablet form of the drug, which can be injected, crushed, smoked, chewed, or sniffed. If abused, the drug is not released slowly as intended, but taken all at once.

Dependence Versus Addiction

In the oxycodone case, addiction is not the same as physical dependence. The last one only occurs if a person uses the drug very often and for a long period, like every four hours for a week or 10 days. If abused for a long time, then psychological dependence happens. Determining if the dependence has became an addiction can be done by observing if the patients are incapable to control their drug craving and use it in excess despite the negative consequences.

If users abuse oxycodone, tolerance eventually develops, meaning that the users will need progressively higher dosages in order to obtain the same effects. If an user becomes addictive and lessens or stops using oxycodeone, he will experience withdrawal symptoms.

If taken in large doses, oxycodone is dangerous, even deadly in some cases, as it can lead to severe respiratory depression. The risk is higher for inexperienced users or beginners, since they haven't acquired substance tolerance and may not know what large dosage means.

Oxycodone Side Effects

After using the drug, people have an euphoria feeling in about ten minutes. The sensation may last up to 4 hours. However, when coming down from the initial effects, they may experience nausea, vomiting and dizziness, those being the drug's after effects.

For people who excessively use the drug, the side effects may be severe, as following:

  • Overall weakness and dizziness
  • Slow breathing or shallow breathing
  • Increased seizures
  • Confusion
  • Lowered blood pressure

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Some of the withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone addiction include bone and muscle pain, restiveness, diarrhea, sleeping difficulty, kicking behaviors, teary eyes, cold flashes, vomiting, anxiety, sweating, runny nose, back pain, yawning, abdominal spasms, muscle contractions, bad temper, nausea, dilated pupils, and loss of appetite.

The indicated drug when trying to stop using opioids is buprenorphine. The medication is helpful in the detoxification process and can be used without harm for a longer period.

Treating Oxycodone Addiction

For most patients, the best treatment option for oxycodone abuse is medication. The advice for patients taking the drug for pain relief is not to stop the treatment abruptly. Instead, they should lower the dosage gradually, until it is safe to obviate the drug. A proven beneficial option for oxycodone addicted patients is the antagonist treatment using naltrexone, but only if the patients have an excellent social support. The method has been proven to be very effective if the patients have undertaken sufficient detoxification and show a great interest participating in the treatment program.

Most of the patients addicted to oxycodone seem to respond great to an outpatient therapy using a medication treatment with either an agonist or a partial one. For example, the most common drug recommended in the United States for treating the oxycodone addiction is methadone.

Buprenorphine is the only partial agonist drug used for oxycodone addiction treatment and approved by the FDA. The drug has the ability to relieve withdrawal symptoms, stop cravings, and help preventing the high effect. Buprenorphine is usually sought by people that want to avoid overdosing from oxycodone or the dangerous behaviors of using the drug. If the patients also suffer from a chronic disease, like HIV, in addition to their oxycodone addiction, the health results will be better if they use the buprenorphine treatment.

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