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Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone is another potent addictive drug contributing to opioid addiction epidemic in United States. it is an opioid or semi synthetic opiate which is formed by the chemical modification of naturally existing opiates. The effects produced by it are similar to some heavy drugs such as heroin and morphine. Oxycodone is a component of many painkillers such as Percocet and OxyContin. Most of the people who become addicted to it are the ones who start taking it for therapeutic purposes. As the time passes, they develop tolerance for it and every time; take it in high amounts to cope with tolerance. Eventually, the whole thing evolves into abuse and addiction. Oxycodone addiction is a serious condition that needs to be treated in a proper recovery facility.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs called narcotics analgesics, opioid analgesics or opioids. It is the main ingredient of several potent painkillers prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Just like other opioids, it is a highly addictive drug even when it is used for medicinal purposes. Oxycodone is sold under a number of different brand names, shapes, sizes and colors. It produces a rush of dopamine in brain, causing feelings of euphoria and happiness. Some of the brand names Oxycodone is sold under include:

  • OxyContin– It is an Oxycodone only product. Since it is a slow releases formulation, it provides relief from pain for up to 12 hours. People who abuse the drug often crush or snort it or form a solution and inject it. It helps them achieve immediate and intense effects of the drug.
  • Percocet– It is a combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen. It is also prescribed for the treatment of mild to severe pain. Just like OxyContin, it is snorted and injected by the abusers.
  • Percodan– It is made up of Oxycodone and aspirin. Containing two painkillers, it effectively relieves mild to severe pain. Crushing and snorting the drug or injecting its solution is a common practice by the abusers.
  • Roxicodone– It is an immediate release form of Oxycodone, often given to a patient before a surgical process to manage the pain and calm him down. When abused, it produces very strong euphoric effects.
  • Tylox– It is a combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen often prescribed for the treatment of pain.

Oxycodone is mainly available in the form of oral medications such as tablets, capsules and pills; the potency of which ranges between 2.5 to 80 mg. Since Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug, most of the patients end up becoming addicted to it. When its medical use is over, the patient cannot get it via a prescription anymore, so he turns to street dealers. There are a number of street names given to the drug by its abusers such as:

  • Oxy
  • Blue
  • Blue dynamite
  • OC
  • Oxycotton
  • Oxy 80s
  • Kickers
  • Hillbilly heroin
  • Paulas
  • Killers
  • Percs
  • Percodoms
  • Roxi

Uses and dosage amounts for Oxycodone:

Oxycodone is prescribed for the short term management of mild to severe pain. Those suffering from chronic, long term pain are prescribed slow release forms of the drug since their effects last for hours. Some patients who are going through extreme pain such as those at terminal stage of cancer, road accident victims, post surgery patients etc are also prescribed Oxycodone.

The physician prescribes specific amounts of the drug depending upon the needs of the patient. OxyContin, which is an extended release form of Oxycodone, comes in 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80 and 160 mg doses.  While Percocet, which is a combination of Oxycodone and acetaminophen, comes in 2.5, 5, 7.5 and 10 mg forms. However, the amount of acetaminophen remains constant at 325mg, because of its liver damaging potential.

For the adults, the doses of these medications are:

  • One Percocet tablet every 6 hours, the daily dose of the medicine should not exceed 12 tablets.
  • On Tylox capsule every 6 hours.
  • One OxyContin tablet every 12 hours. the dose can be increased if there is a need.

Why is Oxycodone addictive?

It is a highly addictive drug because it affects and rewires the functioning of brain in a way that it is no more able to work normally without the drug. When the drug reaches to brain via bloodstream, it stimulates the production of dopamine and endorphins which are the two neurotransmitters associated with the feelings of happiness, euphoria, elation, reward and satisfaction. However, when the effects of the drug wear off, the user feels exactly the opposite i-e depressed and sad. Also, with prolonged use, the ability of the brain to produce dopamine normally is also negatively affected. As a result, it cannot function the way it used to before succumbing to the addiction any longer. The resulting condition is termed as addiction. Oxycodone is a serious condition but its treatment is possible.

Common Oxycodone drug combinations:

Oxycodone is often combined with other substances in an attempt to achieve a stronger and long lasting high. Patients may also end up accidently combining it with other prescription medications. It is important to consult your physician before using it in combination with any other drugs. Drugs commonly combined with Oxycodone include:

  • Antibiotics such as erythromycin
  • Antifungals
  • Antidepressants
  • Tranquillizers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Antihistamine
  • Alcohol

Oxycodone and alcohol is the most likely combination since patients often drink after taking the drug. This polysubstance abuse greatly increases the chances for an overdose and can even prove to be fatal.

Statistics on Oxycodone abuse and addiction:

Oxycodone has been around in America since 1900s but its use particularly spiked up in 1990s. Due to its alarmingly high potential for abuse and addiction, it was regarded as a controlled substance. It is not available in pharmacies without a valid prescription.

  • In 2015, over 20,101 deaths were caused by Oxycodone abuse.
  • In 2015, over 20 million Americans were addicted to drugs out of which 2 million were addicted to prescription narcotics including Oxycodone.
  • According to US drug enforcement administration over 58 million prescriptions were written for Oxycodone in 2013 alone.