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The Long Term Effects of Oxycodone Use

Written by Opiates | Published on August 17, 2020 | Updated on August 17th, 2020

Oxycodone is a prescription painkiller in the opioid family. While it can be effective at addressing and reducing pain, this medication has been shown to have a high risk of abuse due to the euphoric feeling it produces.  It is unknown which patients are more likely to become dependent. Therefore, it should be used only as directed by a physician. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), as of 2015, approximately two million Americans age twelve or older were addicted to painkillers. Such drugs also have a high potential for overdose.

It works by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain to suppress the transmission of nerve signals, such as those that cause pain. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, which are brain chemicals that cause pleasurable sensations. Some users begin to crave that high, in addition to receiving pain relief, which is one of the ways oxycodone can easily lead to dependence. If you or someone you care about is dealing with oxycodone addiction, continue reading to learn more about this drug. We’ll also discuss its potential for addiction and the short and long-term mental and physical effects it can produce.

Oxycodone and Addiction

If oxycodone is misused or taken outside of a physician’s prescribed recommendations, the user can begin to gain a tolerance for the drug. This means they will require more and more over time in order to receive the same effects they once did. The body becomes accustomed to the drug and may need it for regular day to day functioning. If you get to this stage, you are likely to notice withdrawal symptoms occur when your body does not get an adequate supply of oxycodone.

There are actually a number of ways you can misuse this drug. One is by taking the pill more often than prescribed or in higher dosages. This is likely the most common method. However, some user may go beyond swallowing pills in order to get a faster or more potent high. It’s possible to smoke it by grinding the pill into a powder and then rolling it as a cigarette. This method of being inhaled into the lungs produces a quick high that is short-lived. Snorting the crushed powder is another popular way to get a quicker high. Both of these come with increased health risks. Less common, but potentially deadly, is liquefying the drug and injecting it into the bloodstream.

It’s important to know that there are alternatives to oxycodone use for those who become dependent upon it. Because the drug requires a prescription, obtaining it can be tricky. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for users to turn to other forms of opioid drugs. Some alternatives that are easier to obtain include synthetic street drugs. One of the most popular is heroin. Many heroin users got their start after becoming dependent upon prescription pain pills.

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone

There are a number of short-term effects of oxycodone you may notice. These include:

  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Calm
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Constipation
  • Itchiness of eyes or skin
  • Decreased rate and depth of breathing

One crucial item to note is that combining oxycodone and alcohol can potentially be fatal. Both substances are depressants that slow central nervous system function. This could lead to breathing problems and cause death.

Long-term Effects of Oxycodone

There are both physical and mental long-term effects of oxycodone use. These are things that can significantly affect your health and your quality of life. It’s important to understand them in order to recognize when it may be time to seek help. Opioid abuse affects users differently, depending upon the method of use. For example, the health effects of swallowing pills will be different than those associated with snorting or injecting the drug.

Some common long-term effects to be aware of are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic constipation
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Negative reproductive system effects in women
  • Danger to the fetus in cases of pregnancy
  • Increased risk of fractures related to falls, particularly in women or older adults
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Excessive sweating
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Perpetual fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction
  • Overdose

Continued long-term use of oxycodone could severely disrupt your life. It often leads to poor work or school performance. Relationships with friends and family are negatively affected. You may find yourself lying, taking unnecessary risks, ignoring your everyday duties or interests and continuing to use the drug despite detrimental outcomes.

Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

It’s when people begin to notice the long-term negative effects of oxycodone use that they may begin to consider looking into professional treatment. You may need to step in if a friend or loved one is struggling. Expect that they are likely to be defensive and not want to talk about the problem. You may need to be direct and persistent. However, typically, the addicted person has to decide to seek treatment on their own rather than being forced.

If you decide to talk to them, be sure to do so when they are sober so that they will understand the conversation and remember what’s been said. Let them know that you care about them and are here to support them. This can be effective when done as a group intervention if there are multiple people who wish to take part. Try to avoid being judgmental. However, it’s good to be honest about how your friend or family member’s addiction affects you and the ways in which you see it being a problem for them. Try to avoid being judgmental, as this may cause them to become defensive.

There are a number of ways someone can get professional help. Kicking an addiction on their own is not as likely to be successful due to the ways in which dependency affects the brain and body. Instead, consider detox, outpatient or residential programs that allow the addict to obtain medical, counseling and other therapeutic services developed to address their particular issues. Professional drug rehabilitation treatment can provide the expert care and support needed to make overcoming addiction and maintaining recovery possible.