“Prescription drug abuse is a silent epidemic that is stealing thousands of lives and tearing apart communities and families across America,” according to Gil Kerlikowske, former Director of National Drug Control Policy. One of the most commonly used and abused of these drugs is oxycodone. Fortunately, treatment for oxycodone addiction is available for those caught in the grip of this powerful drug.
Oxycodone was developed as an alternative to morphine during World War One. It is classified as a Schedule II drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. It is available as a liquid, tablet or capsule. OxyContin is a commonly prescribed medication containing oxycodone. Slang terms for OxyContin include Oxy, O.C.’s, Oxycet, Oxycottons, Oxy 80’s, Hillbilly Heroin. Other medications containing oxycodone include Roxicodone, OxIR and Oxyfast.
The Effects of Oxycodone Use
Oxycodone is an opioid. Opioids work by attaching themselves to opioid receptors. These are present in our brains and other organs in our bodies. When opioids become attached to the receptors they reduce the amount of pain we feel. They also create a sense of euphoria. Oxycodone can be time released allowing those in pain to feel constant relief throughout the day. When opioids like oxycodone are used regularly our bodies begin producing fewer opioids naturally spurring addicts to take more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. Eventually, addiction takes hold requiring the need for oxycodone addiction treatment.
Side effects of oxycodone products include:
- Breathing irregularity or reparatory depression
- Increased pressure of cerebral and spinal fluid
- Heart failure
- Low blood pressure
- Overdose death due to cardiac arrest or slowed breathing
Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. An October, 2016 article in Psychology Today reported “that government sources estimate that 2.5 million Americans have abused or become dependent on opioids (especially narcotic pain pills like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percoset, as well as a resurgence in heroin use).” In 2014 roughly 60% of all drug overdose fatalities came from opioids. Since 1999, deaths from opioid overdoses have increased nearly fourfold.
In a March, 2016 statement, President Obama said the country’s opioid epidemic was as great a threat as terrorism.
Users of oxycodone and other opioids will often transition to heroin which is less expensive and often easier to obtain. Because heroin and oxycodone have nearly the same molecular structures they produce the same desired effects. Consequently, there has been a nationwide spike in heroin addiction that has paralleled the upsurge in opioid abuse.
American Family Physician reported on a study conducted by The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring (OSAM) Network. Interviews were conducted with people who had recently begun using heroin. These interviews discovered that the heroin users “reported that heroin was more readily available and less expensive than OxyContin and that they would never have tried heroin had they not become addicted to OxyContin.” This trend matches patterns found in other regions throughout the United States.