It’s important to be aware of Oxycodone side effects and it’s potential to cause addiction.
Even though the opioid epidemic is showing signs of slowing down, it still poses a major health issue in the United States. People affected by this are those who need opioids for pain management, and also others who use them recreationally or have unknowingly become dependent on them.
Oxycodone is one of the most prescribed opioid prescriptions for pain and worth examining more closely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 450,000 people died from fatal overdoses involving an opioid from 1999 to 2018, like Oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl or heroin.
What is Oxycodone Used For?
Oxycodone is an opioid prescription painkiller that comes in a number of different dosages, as well as in several different forms, such as immediate-release or extended release tablets or capsules.
It is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain for acute injuries, such as broken bones or recovering from surgery and used for just a short time, as a patient heals.
The drug is also prescribed for chronic pain from illnesses like some cancers or ongoing physical damage related to traumatic injury. In these cases, patients may have to take Oxycodone or other opioid painkillers for longer periods.
Opioids are incredibly effective painkillers because they mimic the body’s natural ability to block pain. Oxycodone binds to opioid receptors in the brainstem, spinal cord and an area of the brain associated with pleasure, also known as the limbic system.
In essence, it decreases the amount of pain the brain thinks it’s experiencing.
Oxycodone Side Effects
Though opioids can be a powerful medication to fight pain, they can definitely come of with some uncomfortable or even dangerous side effects, even if a person is not misusing or abusing the drug.
According to the Mayo Clinic, typical oxycodone side effects can include:
- Chills or cold sweats
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the chest
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or feeling faint when getting up from lying down or sitting
- Twitches and itchiness of the skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Constipation (common with opioids)
- Drowsiness or lethargy
How Does Oxycodone Interact With Other Drugs or Medications?
Drug interactions occur when one substance affects the way another medication behaves or reacts as it breaks down in the body. This is why it’s so important that Oxycodone and other prescription drugs are only used as prescribed or directed under the care of a physician.
Oxycodone does interact with some vitamins and herbal supplements, as well as with medications like buprenorphine and some anesthesia drugs.
There can also be serious and potentially fatal interactions with other recreational substances, like alcohol.
Because opioids are a central nervous system depressant, taking more than the prescribed dosage or using them recreationally can depress a person’s respiratory system to the point where they are no longer able to breathe on their own. This is most common cause of heroin and opioid overdoses.
This is especially true when using opioids in combination with other drugs.
Is Oxycodone Addiction a Problem?
All opioids can create an intense sensation of euphoria, and most users quickly develop a tolerance to these types of drugs or medications. This makes makes oxycodone a high risk for being habit forming and addicting.
As a person’s body becomes more tolerant to oxycodone, they must use more of it to feel the same effects, both in terms of managing pain and getting high when abusing it recreationally.
This is dangerous because many people do not realize they are becoming physically addicted to the medication.
The physical addiction to oxycodone can make it particularly difficult for a person to quit using the drug, even if they want to stop.
This is due to many of the uncomfortable side effects of oxycodone withdrawal, such as:
- Feeling sick with a headache and body aches
- Fatigue and runny nose similar to a bad cold or flu
- Fever and sweats
- Vomiting and nausea
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety and depression
What is the Recommended Treatment for Opioid Addiction?
Though physical withdrawal from opioids is not usually fatal, the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and significantly disrupt a person’s life. Many have described opioid withdrawal as feeling the like worst flu of their life.
Withdrawal symptoms can become so severe and uncomfortable that many people addicted to oxycodone and other opioids continue using to avoid experiencing them.
This is an important reason why it’s always recommended for people who are addicted to stop using opioid medications like oxycodone under the care of a physician in a supervised detox.
Getting through withdrawal in a comfortable, medically supervised addiction treatment facility is very often the best choice for those struggling with substance abuse issues.
Once a patient has safely completed detox and withdrawal, they can start the process of recovery.
Sometimes, medication assisted treatment therapy is successful for managing the urges to use opioids and it is also effective for detox.
One-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions can help patients examine the underlying psychological drivers of their opioid addiction.
Evidence-based treatment modalities have proven to be effective for treating oxycodone addiction, including:
- Motivational Enhancement Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Neurofeedback Therapy
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS Therapy)
TMS Therapy has primarily been used for mental health issues, such as treatment-resistant depression, but it has shown promise for treating addiction too.
The intense side effects of oxycodone addiction and withdrawal can make it tough for many people to quit using or ask for help.
What’s important to understand is that there is no shame in struggling with addiction and it is a treatable disease that many have been able to overcome and enjoy a full recovery, with professional help.