Oxycodone is a type of prescription painkiller given to patients who are in severe, acute pain. While it is an opioid, it is considered a semi-synthetic agent since it is made from an ingredient, thebaine, which is derived from the poppy plant. Oxycodone, commonly referred to as “oxy” is available only by oral ingestion in the United States. Cancer related pain, acute pain post surgery and pain not controlled by any other means are the few instances which opioids can be prescribed. Unfortunately, oxycodone is now being manufactured and distributed on the streets, increasing its usage around the world and causing more deaths due to abuse and overdose.
Oxy is commonly mixed with other pain relievers and distributed by pharmaceutical agencies. Combunox is oxycodone mixed with ibuprofen, oxycodone with acetaminophen is known as Percocet, oxycodone mixed with aspirin is Oxycodan and OxyContin is controlled-release pure oxycodone.
The DEA classifies oxycodone as a schedule II drug in the United States. Taken orally, 20 mg of immediate release oxycodone is equivalent to 30 mg of morphine. Extended release oxycodone is considered to be twice as potent as oral morphine.
Addiction To Oxycodone
The opioid epidemic is rampant around the world. Oxycodone is being overprescribed and sold illegally on the street creating addiction, overdose and death. Side effects from oxycodone use include the following:
- Pruritus (severe itching of the skin)
- Respiratory depression
When taken not as prescribed, these medications can cause a lethal overdose due to severe respiratory depression. The opioids attach to the mu opioid receptors in the brain thus decreasing the rate of breathing in the medulla oblongata in the brain. The body has natural painkillers in the brain known as endorphins which are down regulated after chronic use of exogenous opioids. After taking opioids for a sustained amount of time, the body also develops a tolerance. When combined with an increased tolerance and a lower regulation of endorphins, a larger and more frequent dose of opioids is needed in order to elicit the same effect.
Withdrawal From Oxycodone
Opioid intoxication can lead to overdose and death. Thankfully, the withdrawal phase, as painful as it may be, does not. Withdrawal from oxycodone is known to be extremely painful and can cause relapse. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting
- Muscle and bone pain
- Mood swings