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What Are the Effects of Using Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate made from thebaine, an organic chemical found in the opium poppy plant. It is available for prescription in five forms: immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, immediate-release capsules, extended-release capsules, and a solution. The most popular and addictive form of Oxycodone is the OxyContin tablet which is designed to time-release the substance continuously over 12 hours. The effects of Oxycodone on the body will vary depending on a person’s age, medical history, tolerance and method used to administer the drug. Although OxyContin is intended for around-the-clock treatment of moderate to severe pain, it is often misused in order to achieve a quicker or more intense high. Older adults are also at higher risk of accidental misuse due to a slower gastrointestinal transit time and higher gastric PH balance that affects the break-down of drugs. In addition, most brands of Oxycodone are not approved for people under the age of 18 and should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Oxycodone alters a person’s sense of pain by working directly on the central nervous system. When taking the medication, Opioids bind to Opioid receptors that are involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. Once attached to the receptors, Opioids block pain signals being sent from the brain to the body and release large amounts of dopamine. Oxycodone is sometimes combined with other pain-relieving agents such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen. Extended-release forms like OxyContin are advised in combination with other pain-relieving medicines and generally prescribed for more severe pain associated with conditions such as cancer.
Side Effects of Using Oxycodone
Oxycodone is taken orally and recommended to be taken with food. Effects of the drug usually start within 20 to 30 minutes. It reaches peak effects within 1 to 2 hours and can last for up to 4 to 6 hours, with an average half-life of 3.5 hours. Extended and controlled-release versions can take 3 to 4 hours to reach peak effects and can last up to 12 hours, with an average half-life of 4.5-5.5 hours. OxyContin tablets are designed in a way that allows Oxycodone to be released in two phases. The top layer provides an initial rapid release that provides pain-relief within 20 minutes. The rest of the medication slowly releases the remainder of the Oxycodone over the course of 12 hours.
Those who abuse the drug will try and seek immediate effects by crushing OxyContin pills into a fine powder and snorting it, chewing it, or crushing and dissolving it in water to inject the solution. These methods are dangerous and greatly increase the likelihood of an overdose. Additionally, some users will mix the substance with alcohol to achieve a more intense high, but the combination could lead to serious brain damage or death.
Like all narcotics, Oxycodone may cause unwanted effects along with its needed effects. Most common side effects usually do not need medical attention and will go away as the body adjusts to the treatment. Common side effects include:
- Constipation, nausea, or vomiting
- Drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness
- Lack of loss of strength
Oxycodone can slow or stop your breathing; for this reason, it should not be used if you have severe asthma or breathing problems. Have someone seek emergency medical attention if you have slow breathing with long pauses, blue colored lips, or if you are experiencing difficulty waking up.
Less common side effects:
- Chills and cold sweats
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficult or labored breathing
Although rare, a person may also experience the following:
- Bloating or swelling of the face or extremities
- Hives, itching, or skin rash
- Increase in heart rate or irregular heartbeat
- Severe constipation
- Unusual weight gain or loss
Withdrawal from Oxycodone
Oxycodone has many similarities to other drugs of abuse when it comes to effects and risk for addiction. Prolonged use and abuse change the brain chemistry in a way that causes addiction and makes it so a person cannot quit on their own. If you use Oxycodone while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug and have life-threatening withdrawal symptoms after it is born. In addition, the drug can pass into breast milk and may cause drowsiness or breathing issues in a nursing baby. Always check with your health care professional before starting or stopping any new drugs. Oxycodone tolerance is built up quickly and physical dependency can lead to withdrawal symptoms if the user stops taking medication suddenly. Symptoms include:
- Muscle Pain
Dependence does not usually occur until after weeks of regularly taking the drug. However, dependence can occur in a brief period of time and is dependent on numerous biological and environmental factors on a case-by-case basis. In general, withdrawal symptoms will begin to improve within 72 hours and continue to decrease within a week. You should never take more than the prescribed amount as it can be fatal.
Overdose from Oxycodone
People who are taking Oxycodone can overdose. Overdose occurs when you use too much of a substance or combine multiple substances that react negatively to each other, and it causes life-threatening symptoms or death. Oxycodone overdose causes breathing to slow down, which can lead to hypoxia, a condition that results when not enough oxygen reaches the brain. A decrease in the amount of oxygen reaching the brain can result in coma, permanent brain damage, or death. Signs of an oxycodone overdose are:
- Severe muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
- Bluish lips or skin
- Very slow breathing
- Extreme Drowsiness
- Loss of consciousness
- Constricted, pinpoint, or small pupils
The first step to take if you suspect someone has overdosed is to call 911 so that person may receive immediate medical attention. Oxycodone overdose can be treated with Naloxone, which is available as an injectable solution or nasal spray. Naloxone works rapidly by binding to Opioid receptors and blocking the effects of Opioid overdose. Most states have passed laws allowing pharmacists to provide Naloxone without a prescription, helping prevent deaths from Opioid overdose.
Stop the Effects of Oxycodone Today
Despite being a dangerous drug, many still abuse Oxycodone and develop a tolerance or dependence. Many times the biggest struggle with the abuse of this substance is the painful withdrawal symptoms. Oxycodone should not be quit abruptly, and it is recommended a person is weaned off the drug under medical supervision until withdrawals lessen.
Prescription Opioid addiction should never be fought alone. If you or someone you love does not know where to go, contact a rehabilitation provider who can help with the next steps to recovery.
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