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Oxycodone is a synthesized drug of a chemical modification of an opioid component derived from the opium poppy plant.  The drug is already manufactured in a lab but can cause addiction similar to its legal and illegal counterparts of opioid drugs. Therefore, Oxycodone is an opioid, which differs slightly from an opiate.

Furthermore, the drug can produce a potent side effect of feeling ‘high’ which attracts potential abuse of the drug. Also, users can develop tolerance and dependence for oxycodone because of its addictive properties. Even people who follow a legitimate doctor’s orders are at high risk of developing an addiction to opiates. In a study about oxycodone, it revealed that oxycodone users are 40 times more possible to acquire heroin addiction.

The main purpose of oxycodone is to treat moderate to severe pain. It is often marketed under the brand names of OxyContin, (immediate and controlled release) OxyIR, and OxyFast (for immediate release). Other pharmaceutical companies combine oxycodone with another drug; these are Percodan (oxycodone and aspirin) and Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen.)


Quick Facts about Oxycodone Abuse:

For the last 20 years, oxycodone gained popularity as a dangerous substance. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration statistics:

  • The law enforcement reported that oxycodone-related incidents than any other prescription drug in 2009.
  • Oxycodone was accountable for at least 150,000 emergency room cases in 2011.
  • Around 16 million people abused oxycodone at least once during their lifetime in 2012. An increase of more than 500,000 people than the previous year.
  • Prescriptions for oxycodone reached a staggering amount of 60 million in 2013.
  • The United States is the world’s largest consumer of oxycodone worldwide.
  • Oxycodone abuse surpasses heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine as the most abused drug


History of Oxycodone

In 1914, Freund and Speyer from the University of Frankfurt in Germany first synthesized oxycodone from thebaine. They hoped that a pain reliever derived from the baine would not produce the same addictive properties of morphine and heroin. Unfortunately, they were wrong. Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company stopped their mass production of oxycodone because of the harmful effect of the human body as well as drug dependence.


The first recorded use of oxycodone was in 1917, only after a year since it first discovered. During the late 20’s Merck produced oxycodone combined with scopolamine and ephedrine under the German name SEE.  Ephedrine was added to the mixture to reduce harmful effects to the circulatory and respiratory system.


The drug was brought to the United States in May 1939. The United States government labeled oxycodone as Schedule II drug in the early 60s. In 1996, Purdue Pharma manufactured OxyContin, a controlled release formula for oxycodone. The formulation gave Purdue Pharma revenue worth $31 billion from OxyContin.

Why was the Oxycodone made?

Doctors use oxycodone as a treatment for severe, post-operative pain or in combination with another drug to treat moderate pain.  One reason why oxycodone is called an opioid is because the drug was derived from an organic compound named thebaine, which is also found in opium poppy plant.


Why is Oxycodone abused?

When users take more than the prescribed medications it can cause drug dependency which may eventually lead to addiction. Users either take too much or they take it longer more than prescribed. Also, people may take oxycodone without any prescriptions obtaining it from other sources like the black market.


Furthermore, some doctors don’t really pay too much attention to the patient’s condition or if the patient fully understood the addictive properties of the drug.


What causes Oxycodone addiction?

One of the side effects of oxycodone it the interaction between the drug and brain receptor. It increases the production of dopamine in the brain which controls the reward system. This sometimes led to addiction because it builds repetitive behavior to use oxycodone.

Oxycodone can alter the brain perception to pain and produces a feeling of euphoria. As a Schedule II drug, it means that:

  • the drug contains properties for potential abuse
  • the drug carries a reputation for medical use
  • it can lead to intense psychological and/or physical dependence


Correspondingly, when using recreationally oxycodone there is an apparent risk of drug overdose.


What are the signs and symptoms of Oxycodone addiction?

Users will continue to consume oxycodone despite its harmful effect on their overall well-being. They may not have noticed their changed behaviors, but their loved does. The signs of oxycodone addiction include:

  • Make up stories or steal to get more of the drug
  • Show clear changes in interests and personality characteristics
  • Ignore other responsibilities while dedicating more attention to getting and using oxycodone
  • Will falsify stories of medical histories to doctors, forging prescriptions or visiting multiple doctors ‘Doctor Shopping’ to receive several prescriptions
  • Disregard any intervention for the substance abuse


What are the side effects of Oxycodone?

Prolonged use of oxycodone can lead to detrimental effects on the physical, psychological and social well-being of the user. Also, when the body expose to the drug for a long time it builds tolerance. Once it became apparent, the body needs more of the drug to get the same effect. This condition can cause harmful effect to the body and has a greater risk for drug overdose.


Short term effects of Oxycodone include:

  • Slowed or difficult breathing
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Alternating periods of sleep and consciousness
  • State of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Sedation
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss


Long-term effects of Oxycodone

  • Kidney disease/failure
  • liver disease such as Hepatitis C
  • Severe liver damage
  • Inability of the brain to recognize


Signs of Overdose of Oxycodone

If some of these signs became apparent call medical assistance immediately as it can quickly turn deadly.

  • Narrowing or widening of the pupils.
  • Periods of extreme sedation
  • Lack of responsiveness
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Cyanotic or bluish color tint of the lips, fingernails.
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Hives or  itching
  • Swelling of the face, extremities, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Postural hypotension
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Limp or weak muscles
  • Cold, clammy skin


What are the treatments available for Oxycodone addiction?

Oxycodone addiction is connected to dependence and both the brain and body becomes so used to the drug that it learned to live by it. Drug dependence is difficult to fight, but it is attainable. However, it can cause discomfort and withdrawal symptoms.


Experts may recommend a supervised detoxification process for the user. The process includes a meaningful reduction of oxycodone in the body. This is often done in an inpatient setting under a meticulous care of medical practitioners to ensure comfort and safety of the user.


Some usual withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone include:

  • Restlessness
  • Flu-like symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and sweating
  • Watery eyes
  • Muscle pains
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety, Irritability, and depression
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep/insomnia
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart and breathing rate


Once completed, the user can opt for a continued treatment to ensure an effective and lasting recovery. Other treatment program includes an inpatient rehab and an outpatient. Depending on the severity of the drug abuse, both can help users to regain their vitality. Experts can help with the relapse through activities and therapy sessions, which can be done either inpatient or as an outpatient.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline
1 to 2 days Within a few hours after the last intake, withdrawal symptoms may begin to surface. Some of the initial symptoms may include muscle pains, nausea, intense sweating. Users may also experience relapse, a common occurrence during this period.
3 to 5 days Withdrawal symptoms may peak within this window. Users may still experience muscle aches. Nausea and vomiting are a common occurrence as well as shaking and cramps.
6 to 7 days As the physical symptoms starts to subside, the psychological symptoms will become more obvious. Depression and anxiety can manifest towards the end of the detoxification process. However, nausea and diarrhea may still linger for few more days.
8 days and beyond One the toxins were removed from the body, the psychological problems starts to settle in. Addiction is often times a manifestation of a psychological illness. It is important for users to received continuous care for their overall recovery from addiction.



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