Oxycodone Addiction Treatment: Understanding and Preventing Prescription Painkiller Abuse
Oxycodone is an opioid painkiller that is prescribed by doctors to provide relief from severe pain. Too often, its use gets out of control, resulting in oxy addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 10 million people in the United States misuse opioids every year. The vast majority misuse prescription pain relievers like OxyContin and Percocet (brand names for the generic drug oxycodone).1 Opiate addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. The support of loved ones and professional oxycodone addiction treatment can help people who are addicted to prescription painkillers achieve meaningful recovery.
What is oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a pain-relieving drug that is available by prescription only. It is on the market with brand names like Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin, Oxyfast, and OxyIR. Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs called opioids. Opioid painkillers have a chemical structure similar to heroin and are highly addictive. People who develop oxy addiction need professional help at drug rehab centers.
Oxycodone was first developed in Germany in 1916. It became available for pain management in the United States in 1939.2 Oxycodone was initially used in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like paracetamol. The controlled-release, oxycodone-only formulation called OxyContin received FDA approval in 1996.
Since its release, oxycodone use has increased dramatically. The widespread misuse of prescription painkillers has resulted in a public health emergency. Many countries around the world, including the United States, are dealing with an opioid epidemic. Opiate addiction claims thousands of lives each year.
Prescribing rates for oxycodone have been climbing steadily over the years. In 2004, there were roughly 27 ER visits per 100,000 people related to oxycodone use. By 2009, this number had increased to 88 ER visits per 100,000 people.2 Each year, nearly 48,000 people die from an opioid overdose.3 Now more than ever, there is a need for oxycodone addiction treatment at drug rehab facilities.
What is oxycodone used for?
Oxycodone and other drugs in its class work by changing the way the human brain responds to pain. It is, therefore, used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Extended-release and controlled-release formulations of oxycodone are used in people who need around-the-clock pain relief from conditions that cannot be treated with other pain medications.4 Oxycodone is also available in combination with other pain-relieving drugs such as acetaminophen (Percocet, Oxycet, Roxicet), ibuprofen, and aspirin (Percodan). However, the misuse of these drugs can lead to oxy addiction.
When it was launched, OxyContin (a controlled-release formulation of oxycodone) was touted as providing 12-24 hours of continuous pain relief for patients with injuries, cancer, arthritis, and other conditions. However, in the ensuing years, a worrisome increase in the incidence of OxyContin opiate addiction occurred. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, was slammed with thousands of lawsuits alleging that the company misled physicians and the public about the safety and appropriate use of opioid medications.
What is oxycodone addiction?
Oxycodone is a powerful painkiller and one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the US. Many people who abuse oxycodone have been prescribed the drug for a valid medical reason and start by taking the recommended amount. However, with time, their body develops a tolerance to the drug, meaning they need to take higher doses to obtain the same degree of pain relief. The transition from prescription drug use to misuse, abuse, and addiction can be quick and dangerous. Recognizing that someone is misusing or abusing prescription painkillers is important to get the appropriate oxycodone addiction treatment.
Who is at risk of opiate addiction?
Anyone who is prescribed oxycodone for pain relief is at risk of developing an oxy addiction. Some patients take more oxycodone than prescribed by obtaining it from family members and friends. This often happens when a person is looking for oxycodone pain relief on bad days. Eventually, they develop a tolerance to the drug and need more and more oxycodone. Over time, the misuse of oxycodone leads to opiate addiction with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Besides people with chronic pain, college students and professionals sometimes abuse prescription pain pills to cope with stress. This is typically perceived as more acceptable than street drug abuse, although it is equally dangerous. Another group of people at high risk of oxy addiction is veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and chronic pain from injuries sustained during combat.
Safe use of prescription oxycodone
People who have been prescribed oxycodone for a valid medical reason can take several steps to ensure they do not develop opiate addiction.5,6
- Always follow the directions on the label.
- Do not stop using oxycodone without consulting the prescribing physician.
- Do not share your prescription pain medication with others.
- Store prescription medications safely, out of reach of children and pets, and keep a count of the pills.
- Be aware of potential interactions of oxycodone with other drugs and alcohol.
- Never take oxycodone that was prescribed for someone else.
- Never take a larger oxycodone dose or more frequent dose than what was prescribed to you.
- Never take oxycodone in a different way than you are supposed to (for example, by crushing the tablets, snorting, or injecting the drug).
- Never use oxycodone for another purpose, such as getting high.
Is my loved one abusing oxycodone?
If you suspect that a family member or friend may be abusing prescription painkillers, it is important to get help from experts in oxycodone addiction treatment. Using larger doses or more frequent doses of oxycodone than what is prescribed are definite red flags. Some of the physical warning signs of oxy addiction include dilated pupils, short attention span, drowsiness, and apathy and/or calmness. Also, certain behavioral changes can indicate a dangerous misuse of opioids. Opiate addiction may lead to social or interpersonal problems (difficulties at home or work), neglecting responsibilities, and quitting previously enjoyed activities.
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment: Recovery from Prescription Pain Pill Abuse
The risks and consequences of oxy addiction can be deadly. Getting oxycodone addiction treatment for someone struggling with prescription painkiller abuse can potentially save their life. Oxycodone causes significant withdrawal symptoms in individuals who are attempting to quit. For this reason, it is critical to undergo medically-supervised detox for opiate addiction. Following detoxification, inpatient and outpatient rehab programs at oxycodone addiction treatment centers can help you achieve a successful recovery.