What is Oxycodone? - How Does It Effect The Body and Brain?

what is oxycodone?

Street Names Associated with Oxycodone

Oxycontin, Oxy, Oxy 80’s, Kickers, Blue, Hillbilly Heroin, Killers

Oxycodone: A Synopsis

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate and the active ingredient in a number of prescription pain relief medications such as Oxycontin, Tylox, Percocet and Percodan. Drugs that contain oxycodone as its’ active ingredient are only meant to be used for short-term pain relief from medical procedures as well as for managing pain associated with cancer and arthritis. Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II substance and has a high potential for addiction, even if used as intended and under supervision of a doctor or physician.

The chemical structure of oxycodone is similar to codeine and is also similar to morphine in its ability to produce analgesic (pain relieving) effects. Oxycodone binds to the pain receptors in the brain so that the sensation of pain is reduced. While the use of medications containing oxycodone are very beneficial when properly used, many users will abuse the drug for its’ euphoric high and others may use the drug to help minimize the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates such as heroin or morphine.

The history of oxycodone’s high addiction potential in users has been documented since the 1960’s, but wasn’t widespread until the approval of Oxycontin in late 1995. According to information contained in a timeline on opioid misuse featured on the Food and Drug Administration website:

At the time of approval, FDA believed the controlled-release formulation of OxyContin would result in less abuse potential, since the drug would be absorbed slowly and there would not be an immediate “rush” or high that would promote abuse. In part, FDA based its judgment on the prior marketing history of a similar product, MS Contin, a controlled-release formulation of morphine approved by FDA and used in the medical community since 1987 without significant reports of abuse and misuse.”

The abuse of medications containing oxycodone in the last couple of decades has resulted in a surge of prescription drug overdoses in the United States. According to information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • In 2012, drug overdose was the leading cause of death for those aged 25-64
  • In 2011, drug use and misuse resulted in 2.5 million visits to emergency rooms nationwide
  • In 2013, 51.8% of overdose deaths where related to pharmaceuticals

While prescription drug abuse is a significant issue for millions of Americans, prescription drug deaths in women have skyrocketed over the last few years. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report of figures that are quite alarming. Since 1999 the rate at which women are dying from prescription painkillers has increased by 400%. In 2012, prescription painkillers caused 6,600 overdose deaths, and contributed to thousands more deaths. That number is 4 times as many as heroin and cocaine.

How Is Oxycodone Administered?

Users can administer oxycodone in a number of ways. For example, oxycodone products can be injected either intravenously or through muscle tissue. Users can also inject products containing oxycodone subcutaneously (injections under the skin) or rectally. Oxycodone-based drugs such as Oxycontin can also be taken orally either in pill or tablet form. If users obtain pills or tablets, they can also crush the tablets and snort them. These methods are seen as ways to bypass the time-release formulas of some prescription painkillers like Oxycontin.

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone

Those who use drugs that have oxycodone as its’ main active ingredient may experience some beneficial short-term effects such as improved mood and the short-term reduction of anxiety. Additionally, the drug effectively blocks pain messages to the brain and since it helps slow down the respiratory system, oxycodone can also act as a sleep aid.

Even if prescription painkillers that contain the drug are prescribed and used properly and under medical supervision, users can experience several negative short-term effects which can include dry mouth, flushing of the skin, nausea, vomiting, heavy feelings in the arms and legs and itching. Additionally, oxycodone can cause substantial drowsiness and confusion which can last up to several hours. In larger doses, the drug can significantly slow down heart rate and respiration to dangerous levels.

Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone

If used for longer periods of time or is abused on a recreational basis, users can experience long-term health problems. For example, oxycodone is highly addictive physically, and users that continually take the drug will need to take more of it in order to achieve the desired effects. With increased physical dependence, users will become physically ill if they decrease the amount of the drug taken or stop use entirely. With increased long-term use, users are more likely to develop respiratory complications including difficulty breathing, lightheadedness and dizziness

If users inject products containing oxycodone, it can cause scarring of the veins and eventually vein collapse. If users are not using clean needles, they are vulnerable to many infections and diseases. For example, users can develop boils or abscesses that can lead to amputation if not treated. Users can also develop soft-tissue infections and are at increased risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV. Additionally, users can experience substantial liver and kidney damage from misuse of the drug.

The Importance of Treatment

Prescription painkiller addiction is a serious issue and if you are struggling with painkiller dependence and abuse it is crucial that you receive help at a drug treatment center. If you attempt to try and quit these drugs on your own, you can experience a myriad of withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely unpleasant. Among the withdrawal symptoms that can be experienced can include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Increased hard rate
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Vomiting

It is important to first undergo a complete medical detox in which medical staff slowly reduces the amount of oxycodone in order to minimize the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Various medications such as suboxone, naltrexone or buprenorphine can also be used in the detox process. Once the detox process is complete, formal drug treatment can help you uncover the social, emotional and psychological triggers that trigger the cravings to use prescription medication.

Addiction to prescription painkillers is a progressive disease, and in order to fully recover from its devastating effects you need to understand all the effects as well as all of your available options. As the leading provider of information regarding addiction and treatment on the internet, the experienced staff at Sober Nation is able to provide you with the information and support you need to break the cycle of addiction. Don’t wait another day; contact Sober Nation today.

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