Opioids are drugs that are synthesized based on natural compounds found in opium. They act on the central nervous system to relieve pain, and in doing so create a euphoric effect, which is why these medications are susceptible to abuse. If you are prescribed oxycodone to treat pain, take it only as directed by your doctor and report any side effects or if you feel withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using it.
Oxycodone is a generic name. Brand names include Oxyfast, Dazidox, Roxicodone and Oxecta. Oxycodone is also included in formulations with other, over-the-counter painkillers. Endocet, Roxicet, Percocet and Tylox include both oxycodone and acetaminophen. Endodan, Percodan and Roxipirin are made with oxycodone and aspirin. Combunox is a formulation made with ibuprofen.
Oxycodone medications can be liquids, tablets, capsules or extended-release tablets. The latter is designed for people who need constant and steady pain relief. The special formulation releases small doses of oxycodone over a 12-hour or 24-hour period. These tablets should be swallowed whole and not crushed.
The extended-release mechanism in OxyContin is crush-proof, but it wasn’t always. Several years ago, an epidemic of oxycodone addiction swept certain regions of the country when abusers realized the extended-release pills could be crushed to get a large dose all at once. Doing so is dangerous and can lead to an unintentional overdose as well as Oxy addiction.
Side Effects of Oxycodone
For most people prescribed oxycodone, the medication is safe, especially when taken as directed. There are possible side effects, though, including nausea and vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, loss of appetite, drowsiness, dizziness, sweating, itching, headaches and mood swings. More serious side effects that may occur with oxycodone are trouble breathing, slow breathing, increased or reduced heartbeat, hives, swelling in the face or mouth, trouble swallowing, and seizures. If you experience any of these while using oxycodone, talk to your doctor right away.
Overdosing on oxycodone can be fatal. Be aware of the symptoms of overdose and get emergency help if you see them in someone you know is taking this medication. Watch out for chest pains, loss of consciousness, small pupils, extreme drowsiness, inability to move and a slow or irregular heartbeat.
Treating Oxycodone Addiction
Because oxycodone is habit-forming and susceptible to abuse, it is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The effect of opioid narcotic painkillers, like oxycodone, on the mind includes a sense of euphoria and relaxation, especially when taken in large doses. For most people taking oxycodone under a doctor’s direction, addiction is unlikely.
Even for those who are taking oxycodone responsibly, physical withdrawal symptoms are possible during cessation. Withdrawal may include nausea, anxiety, insomnia, fever, muscle aches and symptoms that mimic the flu. These symptoms can range from mild to severe depending how long the medication has been taken and the dosage. Patients can avoid withdrawal by slowly reducing the dosage of oxycodone, rather than trying to stop using it all at once.
Oxycodone is a powerful painkiller and one that has helped many people find relief. The side effects are usually not serious, but the risk of dependence is real. Oxycodone addiction is treatable, most often with a combination of medication (for a safe detox), self-help support groups and various forms of therapy.