15 Mar Oxycodone Side Effects
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, over 20,000 oxycodone related deaths are reported each year. This shocking statistic covers the United States alone, and is an ongoing epidemic both on a national and international level. But what makes oxycodone addiction such a widespread and ongoing problem? The answer is accessibility.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone, also known by various brand names such as OxyContin, OxyIR, OxyFast, Percodan, and Percocet, is a commonly prescribed painkiller for a variety of moderate to severe pains. Although it is a synthetic drug made in a lab, it is derived from the poppy plant, similar to heroin.
Since heroin and oxycodone are both considered opioids, an addiction to one often leads to another. The American Society of Addiction Medicine also reported that four out of five heroin addicts started by misusing painkillers such as oxycodone. Opioid abuse is a slippery slope, so it is important to be aware of the detrimental side effects.
What is Oxycodone Used For?
When used safely, oxycodone relieves pain and muscle tension and can aid in mental relaxation. For these reasons, it is prescribed for a multitude of moderate ailments during recovery. However, patients often do not use their entire prescription and leave the remaining painkillers in an accessible place.
From here, the leftover pills are commonly taken by others or even given away to family members and friends. Although the intended side effects can be beneficial to those recovering from minor surgery and other common injuries, when abused, there are a myriad of negative side effects.
Why Do People Abuse Oxycodone?
The intended side effect that oxycodone abusers seek is a pleasant effect caused by the increase of dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine is associated with the brain’s reward system, which is what makes individuals value the sensation and want to repeat it, triggering the addition.
Due to this feeling of reward, oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high risk for abuse and severe long-term dependence. Although individuals who misuse oxycodone are seeking the short-term euphoric and relaxing effects, there are a number of harmful unintended consequences to be aware of.
Effects of Oxycodone Use
There is a seemingly endless laundry list of unwanted side effects that can occur with the consumption of oxycodone. These effects differ per person, and can happen with both short-term and long-term use. The risk of experiencing one or more of these symptoms increases as the dose and frequency of use increases.
The list includes, but is not limited to, nausea, constipation, dizziness, stomach pain, drowsiness, sweating, dry mouth, mood swings, headaches and physical weakness. Even though these symptoms are extremely unpleasant, they are not necessarily an immediate threat to one’s life. However, as we know from the unfortunately high overdose statistics, there are additional life threatening side effects that oxycodone can produce.
Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse
The abuse of oxycodone also comes with long list of potential side effects that should not be taken lightly, as they require immediate medical attention. This list includes irregular heart rate, postural hypotension, chest pain, excessive drowsiness, trouble breathing and swallowing, seizures, and swelling of the face, throat, tongue, eyes and more.
Many of these side effects are more commonly experienced when abusers of oxycodone pair it with alcohol consumption. One of the most dangerous of these side effects is trouble breathing, which can cause long-term harm or death.
All of these side effects can occur immediately, but the list does not end there. In addition to instant effects, there are additional negative side effects that develop over time with chronic abuse.
Long-Term Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse
One side effect that both long-term abusers and those who are legally prescribed oxycodone are at risk for is liver damage. Those who are prescribed these painkillers should work closely with their doctor to ensure that they are properly managing treatment to decrease the risk of severe damage.
Many abusers take oxycodone and alcohol together, drastically increasing the risk of detrimental liver damage. In addition to liver damage and failure, other long-term side effects associated with oxycodone are kidney failure and a reduction of the brain’s ability to adapt to new input.
As if the physical side effects of oxycodone were not concerning enough, it also puts users at risk for psychological and physical dependence. Psychologically, the brain begins to crave the rewarding feeling generated by the dopamine, leading to increased use and dosage. Similarly, the body begins to build a physical tolerance to the drug, leading to users consuming higher, more dangerous doses in attempts to yield the same effects.
As a medically legal drug, many individuals are exposed to oxycodone and have easy access to it. Because of these factors, it is important to only take oxycodone under the direct instruction of a reputable doctor. There are a number of harmful short-term and long-term consequences that can arise from oxycodone use, which are dramatically increased when the drug is abused—least of which is a potential stepping-stone to heroin use.
Protect your body and mind by being aware of the damaging side effects that can arise with the use and abuse of oxycodone.