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Oxycodone Treatment

Oxycodone, a potent pain medication, can lead to dependence and addiction. Symptoms include physical and behavioral changes, with withdrawal being challenging. Effective treatment often combines medication-assisted therapy with counseling to address cravings and underlying addiction causes.

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Regular oxycodone use, even with a prescription, can lead to physical dependence. Oxycodone abuse can cause an addiction.

Oxycodone is a prescription medication doctors use for moderate-to-severe pain that can’t be addressed with other medications.

Doctors are told they should only provide this drug to people who need pain relief around the clock for an extended time. People with cancer and other chronic conditions could benefit from therapy with oxycodone. 

Unfortunately, this drug does more than relieve pain. It can also boost feel-good chemicals within the brain and cause a spike in euphoria. Oxycodone and its name-brand counterparts OxyContin and Xtampza ER are popular targets for abuse. 

Oxycodone Abuse Statistics Everyone Should Know

Recreational oxycodone abuse may seem harmless. A friend passes you a pill on a bad day, and it might seem like an ideal solution. But as thousands of Americans have discovered, prescription painkillers are dangerous, and abuse can lead to death. 

Oxycodone Abuse Is Common

Of the people who used OxyContin in 2015, 15.2 percent abused it

From 50 to 90 percent of patients newly enrolled in methadone programs in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia say that OxyContin is their primary drug of abuse. 

Oxycodone Abuse Is Deadly

In 2000, 19 deaths in one Kentucky county were directly attributed to OxyContin. 

Oxycodone Abuse Often Leads to Other Forms of Drug Abuse

People with addictions may buy their oxycodone from street dealers. Sometimes, the pills they buy are contaminated. Between 2000 and 2017, the total number of people who overdosed on fentanyl (a very powerful drug often substituted for oxycodone in street drugs) increased 22-fold

Oxycodone also stops working effectively as people become tolerant to it. Up to 6 percent of people who abuse prescription painkillers move on to heroin in time. 

Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

Long-term use of oxycodone can change your brain and body. Maintaining that use can change your habits and views. An addiction will manifest with both physical and behavioral symptoms. 

Physical Oxycodone Addiction Symptoms

Common symptoms of oxy abuse include the following:

  • Constipation 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Moodiness
  • Sweating 

Behavioral Oxycodone Addiction Symptoms

Common changes seen in people with a substance abuse issue include the following:

  • Paranoia
  • Secretiveness 
  • Continual need for money
  • New friends 
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed

Oxycodone Addiction Progression

 Recreational userPhysically dependent userPerson with an addiction 
How much oxy do I take?More than prescribedMore every dayAs much as I can get
Where do I use oxy?With friends or at parties Anywhere, including in dangerous placesAnywhere, including in dangerous places and in front of others
Why do I use oxy?For fun or to make a bad day betterTo avoid withdrawal symptomsTo avoid withdrawal symptoms, which seem to happen anyway
How does oxy make me feel?Euphoric or relaxedNormal, unless I take more and can get highNormal 
How important is oxy to me?Not very; I use other medications tooModerately, but I am worried about my useExtremely, and I don’t know how to stop 

Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse

People take oxycodone for the mental changes it delivers. But the drug works on systems throughout the body, and the changes can be dangerous. 

Common health problems associated with oxycodone use include the following:

  • Constipation: The drug slows digestion, which can result in life-threatening constipation or bowel obstruction. 
  • Nausea: Use of oxycodone on an empty stomach can leave you feeling sick. Feelings of withdrawal between doses can worsen the issue. 
  • Confusion: A high dose can leave you wondering what is really happening, and you may not remember what you did or said the day before. 

Long-term use can cause dependence. The doses you once took aren’t enough to stave off feelings of withdrawal. You might transition to a stronger drug like heroin, which increases your risk of contaminated doses, overdose, and more. 

Oxycodone Withdrawal

How long you’ll need to develop a physical dependence on oxycodone varies. Some people develop problems in weeks, and some need more time. Similarly, how long you’ll feel sick when you try to quit can vary from a few days to a few weeks. 

A typical oxycodone withdrawal follows this timeline:

DigestionNormalNormalCramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
Mental stateNormal or highAnxious or agitatedSevere drug cravings
Eye health Normal Watery eyesDilated pupils 
Ability to sleep IncreasedInsomniaInsomnia 

Withdrawal is considered a life-threatening condition. Some people grow so dehydrated from vomiting and diarrhea that their organs can’t function properly. Others relapse to drugs and overdose. 

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

It’s difficult to stop an oxycodone habit without help. Withdrawal symptoms can leave you feeling so uncomfortable and weak that returning to drugs seems reasonable. Treatment can help. 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs combine these two factors:

  • Medications: Buprenorphine, methadone, and other medications can block cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms, and help you stay focused. 
  • Therapy: Talking with a counselor can help you understand how your addiction began and what you should do next to get control of your life back. 

When used properly, MAT can help sustain your recovery over the long term. And you could reduce your risk of overdosing too. MAT could be a good choice if you’ve tried to quit on your own and couldn’t make the changes stick. 

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated March 20, 2024
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