What Is Oxycodone & Is It Safe? Side-Effects Of Using Opioids
- Oxycodone is a powerful opioid narcotic used to treat back pain, nerve pain, and coughing.
- When taken as prescribed by a physician, Oxycodone is safe to take.
- Oxycodone poses a high risk for addiction and is a Schedule II controlled substance.
- Side effects of Oxycodone use may include constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, weakness, headache, itching, nausea and/or vomiting, and unusual perspiration.
- If dependence develops, tapering off oxycodone should always be part of an experienced, qualified professional program.
Oxycodone is an opioid painkiller that is safe to take as directed by a physician. When misused or taken with other substances, there may be dangerous side effects and health risks.
What is Oxycodone & Is It Safe?
Oxycodone is a narcotic analgesic (pain medicine) that acts on the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptorsto treat acute and chronic pain. Oxycodone is a low-dose opioid that is safe to take when taken as directed but can lead to dependence and misuse. It’s also widely abused and may lead to substance use disorder.
Is Oxycodone an Opioid?
Yes. Oxycodone is a powerful, semi-synthetic opioid agonist prescription medication and a Schedule II controlled substance that is FDA-approved to treat acute and chronic pain.
The opioid poppy is the source of all opioids, which are powerful pain medications. While the gift of opioids is pain relief, the dangers are the risk of dependence and withdrawal, as well as overdose death. Opium was derived from the opioid plant thousands of years ago. It was used as a treatment for pain and misused recreationally for the euphoria it produces.
Morphine and codeine are derived from opium. After they were developed, these drugs replaced opium for medicinal purposes and for most illicit use. Codeine is still used for moderate pain and as a cough suppressant in over-the-counter and prescription strengths.
Brand Names for Oxycodone
Oxycodone is also known by, or is an active ingredient in, these brand-named medications:
Drugs that cause effects similar to Oxycodone include:
Common street names for Oxycodone include:
- Hillbilly Heroin
Is Oxycodone safe?
Yes, oxycodone is safe; however, it must only be taken as directed under the care of qualified professionals in keeping with the Opioid Analgesic REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy).
The Opioid Crisis
Misuse of and addiction to Oxycontin® and Oxycodone has led to the global opioid crisis that peaked in 2022. It resulted in millions of lives in the US being impacted negatively or ruined completely and tens of thousands of deaths from opioid overdose and other drug-related causes.
A Brief History Of Opioid Medications
Oxycodone was initially developed in 1916 in Germany. In 1996, Purdue Pharma began marketing extended-release oxycodone under the brand name OxyContin. Like heroin, both Oxycodone and OxyContin were initially thought to be less addictive than other opioids and were marketed as such. However, by the early 2000s, data and experiences proved those assumptions false.
Is Oxycodone addictive?
Yes, as with all opioids, Oxycodone can be addictive. You can become physically dependent on Oxycodone and mentally and emotionally addicted.
You may have developed a physical dependence to Oxycodone if you:
- Need a higher dose to feel the effects you usually experience.
- Are you experiencing physical, mental, or emotional symptoms of Oxycodone withdrawal when you stop or cut back on your use of it.
You may have developed a mental and/or emotional addiction to Oxycodone if you:
- Use Oxycodone for more time or more frequently than as prescribed.
- Run out of Oxycodone before you can legally refill your prescription.
- Go to different doctors or pharmacies to get more Oxycodone than you get from your regular doctor or pharmacy.
- Find yourself not taking care of your personal responsibilities at home, work, or school because you’re so focused on getting and using Oxycodone.
- Feel more anxious, irritable, depressed, or have frequent mood swings associated with Oxycodone.
- Notice that you’re not able to concentrate well, can’t remember well, and make poor decisions related to Oxycodone.
- Crave Oxycodone even when you’re not feeling pain.
- Are no longer interested in activities, hobbies, or entertainment you used to enjoy because you’re focused on obtaining and using Oxycodone.
- Lose interest in and isolate yourself partially or completely from friends and family because of your Oxycodone use.
- Feel that you can’t stop using Oxycodone even though you’re aware that your use of it is negatively impacting your life.
- Continue using Oxycodone even knowing that it’s causing severe problems for you physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and mentally.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Abruptly stopping using an opioid usually causes extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms:
- Aches and pain in your muscles
- Chills and sweating
- Feeling extremely restless and/or anxious
- Frequent sneezing and yawning
- Gastrointestinal distress, usually diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of nausea and vomiting
- Inability to sleep or disturbed sleep
- Rapid heart rate
- Shivering and tremors
- Teary eyes and runny nose
What is Oxycodone Prescribed for?
Oxycodone For Back Pain
Back pain from herniated discs, muscle spasms, strains, arthritis, or other issues can be treated effectively with Oxycodone under the care of a qualified professional. Often Oxycodone is combined with physical therapy.
Oxycodone For Nerve Pain
While it’s not typically the first-line treatment to manage nerve pain, Oxycodone is sometimes prescribed when other medications have not been effective.
Oxycodone For Cough
Oxycodone depresses the respiratory system and thus tends to suppress cough, but it’s not typically prescribed for cough. Other medicines, such as codeine, are more commonly used for cough.
Oxycodone Side Effects
The most common side effects of Oxycodone when taken as directed include:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue, weakness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Unusual perspiration
Treatment For Opioid Use Disorder
Professional treatment for Opioid Use Disorder is always the best path.
An experienced, qualified professional can assess a situation and recommend either a
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP), Outpatient Treatment (OT), or Dual Diagnosis treatment when other challenges are also present.
Frequently Asked Questions About Oxycodone
- Use something else. The most effective way to avoid becoming dependent on Oxycodone is not to use it. Try other pain management alternatives first.
- Give your healthcare provider all relevant information. If you or your family members have a history of a substance use disorder, tell your doctor before you start Oxycodone.
- Use only as needed and directed. If other options don’t work for you, use Oxycodone only as needed and as directed. Don’t take more than prescribed or take it more often than directed.
- Use for as short a time as possible. The longer you use it, the higher your risk of dependence.
- Never use it recreationally. Use Oxycodone only as directed to manage pain or for another medical purpose. If you use it for the “high,” you’re more likely to become dependent on it.
- Notice your response. Talk to your healthcare professional if you find yourself craving it or needing to take more to get pain relief.
- Get help early. As soon as you suspect you may have a problem, get professional help. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to stop using it.
Seek professional help to detox from Oxycodone. A qualified professional can assess your use, health, medical history, and other factors and recommend a program.
Gradually tapering off Oxycodone is better than stopping abruptly. This gives your body time to adjust and helps minimize withdrawal symptoms.
As part of a medical detox program, there are medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Counseling and/or therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing, support your recovery holistically.
Long-term aftercare programs plug you into a like-minded community and reduce the risk of relapse.
An Oxycodone overdose can be fatal. Call for emergency medical help and administer Narcan® (Naloxone) immediately if you observe any or all of these symptoms:
- Breathing in a slow or shallow way(respiratory arrest)
- Cold, clammy skin
- Confused thinking or other cognitive dysfunction
- Eyes with pinpoint pupils
- Fingers or lips have a blue tint
- Loss of consciousness
- Pronounced drowsiness or sedation
- Respiratory arrest (breathing stopped)
- Speech is slurred
- Extreme weakness
Oxycodone and Gabapentin® work differently in your body to relieve pain. They can complement each other and are sometimes prescribed together.
Oxycodone and Tramadol® are not typically prescribed together. Tramadol, as a weaker opioid, may be an alternative to Oxycodone.
Oxycodone and Xanax® combined are potentially lethal. Taking a benzodiazepine such as Xanax with an opioid can create extreme respiratory depression, drastically slowing or stopping natural breathing.
The pricing of fentanyl test kits can differ based on factors such as the number of tests in the kit, the producer, and the retail location. Generally, the cost of a single fentanyl test kit can be anywhere from $5 to $25.
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 Schueler, H. E. (2017, March). Emerging synthetic fentanyl analogs. Academic forensic pathology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6474477/ on June 8, 2023