Individuals, families, and healthcare systems are struggling to cope with the consequences of drug misuse and substance use disorders.
The misuse of oxycodone can have devastating effects and all too often end lives prematurely.
The use of painkillers such as oxycodone is normalised, heavily marketed, and a legitimate solution to pain, but are also habit-forming and readily available.
This means they are easily abused and often lead to addiction. Here we explore oxycodone, its effects on the body, signs of abuse and recovery from oxycodone addiction.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid drug prescribed in pill or liquid form. It is used to relieve moderate to severe pain after surgery or due to illness. Still, it is not usually recommended for the treatment of chronic (long-term) pain as it is one of the most abused prescription medications.
You may know oxycodone as the prescribed drugs Tylox®, Percodan®, OxyContin® or by one of its “street” names such as Hillbilly Heroin, Kicker, OC, Ox, Roxy, Perc, or Oxy.
Derived from the poppy plant, oxycodone works directly on opioid receptors in the central nervous system which has the effect of reducing feelings of pain. Because of its pleasurable side effects, oxycodone is commonly used recreationally.
Due to the way the drug acts on the brain, it can be habit-forming – whether you are taking illicit non-medical doses or as prescribed by your doctor – and so has a high potential for abuse. As such, in 2001, physicians were warned against prescribing oxycodone for mild or temporary pain. More.
Side Effects of Oxycodone
Dependence on the drug may result in both mental and physical side effects. Some common side effects of oxycodone that you might experience include:
- Digestive system pain
- Dry mouth/Headaches/Dizziness
- Weakness or lack of energy
- Mood swings
Depending on the period you have been using oxycodone or the dose you are taking, you might experience some of the more serious side effects. Drugs affect everyone differently and these side effects differ from person to person. With oxycodone, you might also experience some of the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems that lead to fainting
- Sleep apnea
- Low blood pressure and/or seizures.
If you stop taking the drug abruptly, there is a risk of discontinuation syndrome, which can cause:
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Sweating or muscle aches
Signs of Oxycodone abuse
Oxycodone dependence or abuse can be hard to recognise if you don’t know what to look out for. The use of painkillers has always been a legitimate solution to pain, previously heavily marketed, with no paraphernalia required for use.
This makes it very easy to deny problematic use of oxycodone, whether that be relating to yourself, a relative or a friend.
Knowing the signs of oxycodone abuse can help you know when you or someone you love is slipping into addiction, allow them to get help early on and prevent serious issues associated with drug abuse.
Some common signs of oxycodone use include taking more of the drug than your doctor prescribes, taking the drug when you don’t need it, continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences (relationships with family and friends, work commitments etc.), self-neglect, and lying to yourself and others about how much you’re taking.
You may also experience physical side effects which include chronic tiredness, muscle weakness, digestive pain and trouble with sleep.
Treatment for Oxycodone addiction
Due to the ease of access and the addictive nature of the drug, addiction to oxycodone has become quite common. If you are or someone you love is experiencing the negative impact of oxycodone use, you are not alone, and it is possible to return to full health.
Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available to you and your family such as:
- medical interventions including detoxification;
- one-to-one and group behavioural therapies;
- family support, family therapy and education;
- sober companioning or coaching; and
- peer support, SMART meetings and 12-step groups
If you are looking to find support for a relative or friend, it is essential to be mindful that those using oxycodone may be experiencing psychological and physical dependence. As such, it can be helpful to educate yourself on the side effects of the drug before speaking to them. This will mean you can approach them with an understanding of what they may be experiencing.
When you decide to raise the subject, it’s important to use compassionate language that is neither blaming nor shaming.
Those struggling with an addiction to a drug such as oxycodone are suffering from an illness, powerless over its effect and need to be treated with empathetic care.
Research shows that the involvement of family in someone’s recovery from addiction is a powerful tool in helping those struggling with addiction to find recovery and stay abstinent long-term following treatment.
Before therapeutic treatment can start, you may need to go through a detoxification process from oxycodone. It is important to seek medical support when withdrawing from oxycodone, rather than stopping use abruptly.
The latter, depending on usage, may trigger a discontinuation syndrome which can be dangerous and challenging to overcome on your own.
Opioid discontinuation syndrome is often experienced as mild to severe flu-like symptoms which include insomnia, pupillary dilation, muscle aches, nausea, fever, sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea but a medical detox can make the process more comfortable for you.
Stopping opioids can be difficult. With the right help, it is possible, and you are much more likely to find freedom if you work with a health care team that can plan your taper schedule and manage your symptoms.
When you are ready to start an oxycodone detox, a clinical evaluation will help you understand the safest path for you to find sobriety. This may be with traditional treatment agents or new research suggests psychoactive substance Ibogaine has proven effective. More.
Oxycodone detox timeline
Oxycodone detox involves ongoing medical supervision and round-the-clock care from nursing staff. The duration of withdrawal from oxycodone is tailored to your needs and is determined by:
- how long you have been using oxycodone
- how much oxycodone you have been taking
- how frequently you have been taking oxycodone
- how you have been taking oxycodone
- your medical history
- Days 1-2: Typically, withdrawal begins 8-12 hours after your last dose of oxycodone and relapse is most common during this window. The first symptoms of withdrawal you may experience include muscle and joint aches, nausea, cravings, irritability, headaches, restlessness, rapid breathing, appetite loss, fatigue, anxiety, pupil dilation and extreme sweating.
- Days 3-5: Withdrawal symptoms can be most severe a few days after your last dose when muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, shaking, and cramps may be experienced.
- Days 6-7: You will now start to notice the physical symptoms start to dissipate but you may still experience psychological symptoms as the tail end of oxycodone withdrawal leads to anxiety and depression.
- Days 8+: Once the oxycodone has been detoxed from your body the psychological impact of overcoming an oxycodone addiction will become apparent and will be carefully handled to prevent relapse.
Following your detox from oxycodone, it will most likely be recommended that you continue treatment in a therapeutic residential rehabilitation centre which typically offer 30, 60 or 90-day programmes.
The length of time you stay will depend on various factors, including clinical recommendations and the programme you choose.
Inpatient treatment centres allow you the time and space to recover from your addiction without being exposed to relapse triggers. Inpatient treatment usually includes a combination of one-to-one and group therapy to help you understand any underlying issues that led to you becoming addicted to oxycodone.
Depending on the treatment centre, you may also attend recovery meetings, educational talks, and relapse prevention sessions. A combination of complementary therapies are sometimes offered and a routine of regular meals and exercise will help you regain your physical strength and mental wellbeing.
If you or someone you know is abusing oxycodone or any of its brand names (OxyContin, OxyIR, OxyFast, Percocet and Percodan) it can be frightening and feel hopeless. But help is available and people do recover. Contact us today and find out how we can help you discover a life free from addiction.