Oxycodone is a type of opioid pain medication that can be habit-forming and lead to oxycodone addiction. Oxycodone works by altering the way the nervous system and brain react to pain and can come in liquid, tablet, or capsule form. Oxycodone is used for around-the-clock treatment and should not be used for pain that can be treated occasionally.
To understand the difference between dependency and misuse it is also important to know the distinction between dependency and addiction. Addiction is a result of physical changes to your brain whereas dependency is the natural increase of tolerance to a substance to the extent that if stopped one would enter into withdrawal. Dependence can occur without an addiction but is a stepping stone to addiction.
If a patient develops an oxycodone dependency it may lead to misuse in the form of oxycodone drug addiction, but this is not always the case. The majority of patients who are legally prescribed can stop usage without ever establishing an oxycodone drug addiction. However, it is still likely for patients who have been using prescribed oxycodone for a prolonged period to develop a dependency (high tolerance) which can result in withdrawal if the medication is stopped on short notice. Typically, patients who develop a dependency are eased off the medication through decreased doses avoiding most of the major withdrawal symptoms.
Despite the majority of patients who are prescribed opioids never becoming addicted there are about 15% who do become addicted (1). To learn more about the signs of misuse continue reading below.
Patients or individuals who are misusing and have developed an oxycodone addiction may continually report lost prescriptions and ask for a refill early. Those with an oxycodone addiction may also claim the medication is no longer effective; however, just because a patient has requested a higher dose does not mean it is a direct sign of addiction. The direct sign is if the person requesting a higher dose continues to claim they are getting worse instead of better with a higher dose (1).
Other signs of oxycodone misuse include:
Oxycodone addiction symptoms for those with an oxycodone addiction include physical, psychosocial, and cognitive signs.
Physical symptoms of oxycodone addiction:
Psychosocial symptoms of oxycodone addiction:
Cognitive symptoms of oxycodone addiction:
Marijuana, benzodiazepines, and other stimulants are commonly combined with the depressant oxycodone to help amplify or mask the effects. Those with an oxycodone addiction may know this combination of a stimulant and an opioid as ‘Speed-balling’.
Oxycodone is most dangerous when combined with alcohol or benzodiazepines as all three substances are depressants and target the central nervous system resulting in a high risk of a fatal overdose or irreversible brain and organ damage. The problem becomes worse as patients begin describing different symptoms to different doctors to obtain both prescription medicines. According to CBS News, there was a 2.5 million person (or 41 percent) increase from 2002 to 2014 of patients prescribed both opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines (2).
Whether a patient has developed an oxycodone addiction or not they will experience withdrawal effects if they have developed a physical dependence on oxycodone. Some patients who go through withdrawal will experience opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). Opioid-induced hyperalgesia is when a patient receives opioid treatment and becomes more sensitive to pain (3). OIH typically happens while a patient is weaning off of the opioid. Major withdrawal symptoms can typically be avoided with a gradual reduction of dose over some time (4).
The physical withdrawal effects of Oxycodone include:
If you or someone you know needs help as they go through withdrawal contact us over the phone or through our website to learn how we can help.
Whether you have become addicted to oxycodone through prescription abuse or acquired unprescribed oxycodone (also known as Oxy, Percs, Rims, Tires, Greenies, or Hillbilly Heroin) here are some informative statistics for those directly or indirectly affected by oxycodone addiction.
There are several different types of oxycodone addiction treatment options for those who have developed oxycodone addiction. Typically, oxycodone addiction treatment is a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and counseling and behavioral therapies.
Currently, there are several MAT-approved medications including Buprenorphine, Methadone, Naltrexone, and Naloxone (7).
Each of the MAT-approved treatment options should be paired with some form of therapy. Effective, evidence-based therapy methods include:
The best treatment for oxycodone addiction is a combination of medication-assisted treatments (MAT) and counseling and behavioral therapies. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about the treatment options available please give us a call now or contact us through our website.
Why is oxycodone addictive?+
How do people get addicted to oxycodone?+