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Oxycodone Symptoms and Warning Signs

Painkillers containing oxycodone, such as OxyContin, have severe side effects and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of Oxycodone Abuse

Taking oxycodoneOxycodone is the main ingredient in many commonly abused brand name painkillers, such as OxyContin and Percocet. Its powerful pain relief properties make it an easy target for abuse and addiction.

Oxycodone abuse can be hard to recognize if you don’t know what to look for. Since there is no paraphernalia and using oxycodone is as simple as swallowing a pill, it’s easy for someone to conceal their abuse.

Knowing the signs of oxycodone abuse can help you take notice when someone you love is slipping into addiction. Some common signs of oxycodone use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Apathy
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Short attention-span

The Dangers of Oxycodone

Although oxycodone brings relief for many people suffering from traumatic pain, the dangers of the drug are becoming more clear than ever. Due to the euphoric effects of oxycodone, many people abuse the drug despite the risks. Those who begin abusing oxycodone on a regular basis are likely to develop a dependence on the drug. Oxycodone is extremely addictive because it is derived from opiates, making it similar to morphine and heroin.

The greatest danger of oxycodone is a potentially fatal overdose. Oxycodone depresses a person’s respiration and decreases their blood pressure. This can lead to seizures, comas or cardiac arrest (especially when ingesting or snorting crushed tablets).

When oxycodone is taken with alcohol or any other depressant drug, the risk of fatal overdose is greatly increased.

Since the 1990s, the number of prescriptions for opioid drugs more than doubled. The United States is the biggest global consumer of oxycodone, accounting for up to 81 percent of the world’s oxycodone supply.

Tragically, the rise in oxycodone use and availability has caused an increase in fatal overdoses. According to Dr. Nora Volkow in a testimony to Congress, prescriptions opioids were responsible for more deaths than either cocaine or heroin by 2002.

Immediate Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse

The immediate side effects of oxycodone abuse range from mildly uncomfortable to potentially deadly. Even someone who only uses oxycodone as prescribed may experience side effects, including:

Headaches

Seizures

Depressed breathing rate

Nausea and vomiting

Dizziness

Low blood pressure

Vivid dreams

Dry mouth

Blurred vision

Long-term Side Effects of Oxycodone Abuse

Someone who has used oxycodone for a long period of time may experience complications with their physical and mental health as a result of their drug use.

Heart failure

Constipation

Insomnia

Depression

Aches and cramps

Increased pressure of spinal fluid

Coma

Swelling in limbs

Death

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Recognizing an Oxycodone Addiction

Even when people start using oxycodone painkillers by prescription, continued use can lead to abuse. Those abusing oxycodone can develop a tolerance to it, leading to more abuse and eventual addiction as time goes on. It is important to recognize when you or someone you care about is struggling with an oxycodone addiction.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are 11 criteria for diagnosing an oxycodone addiction. The more symptoms that are present, the more severe the problem. Criteria include spending extraordinary amounts of time trying to get oxycodone or continuing to use the drug despite negative health effects.

Intervention and Next Steps

The risks and consequences of oxycodone addiction are undeniably deadly. Staging an intervention for someone struggling through an addiction is the first step toward potentially saving their life. If you are worried about how your loved one will react to an intervention, it is recommended to hire an intervention specialist.

Withdrawal and Treatment

Like other opiates, oxycodone has significant withdrawal symptoms when detoxing without medical supervision. Most professionals agree that while oxycodone withdrawal is uncomfortable, it is rarely life-threatening.

In the event of complications, such as chemical imbalances or vomiting and diarrhea that can cause severe dehydration, withdrawal can turn dangerous. In most cases, it is recommended to use a doctor-assisted detox option.

The best way to get through withdrawal from oxycodone and reduce the chances of relapse is with therapy, support groups and medication. Therapy and support groups help people suffering from oxycodone addiction overcome the psychological compulsion to use while medications can reduce the discomfort that comes with withdrawal.

An inpatient rehabilitation center is often the best place to receive all of these treatments in an environment conducive to a successful recovery. However, there are various outpatient options as well. Get in touch with us today to explore your treatment options.

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Sources & Author Last Edited: January 21, 2016

  1. Foundation for a Drug Free World. (2006). OxyContin Addiction Signs. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from: http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/painkillers/warning-signs-of-prescription-painkiller-dependency.html
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