How to use Oxycodone?
It’s nearly impossible to go through life without hearing about oxycodone, but the majority of people have no idea what it is. Whether you have a friend who received an oxycodone prescription after having their wisdom teeth extracted, know someone who is struggling with an addiction to this medication, or are curious about why you’ve been hearing so much about it in the news, you have questions.
Understanding what oxycodone is, what it does, and how it affects people who use or abuse it is critical to making the best decisions for yourself and being available to others who may require your assistance.
What Type of Drug Is Oxycodone?
The most common misconception about oxycodone is that it is an opioid. Opioid medications mimic the chemical structure of a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. They have similar chemical compositions that trick the brain’s receptors into accepting the opioids and then go to work producing the “opioid effect,” which helps block pain among other things.
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid, which means it was created in part by humans. The process begins with thebaine, a naturally occurring compound in opium. It’s a minor component of opium with a structure similar to morphine and codeine. However, it has stimulatory effects rather than depressive effects. The manufacturing process of oxycodone alters the chemical structure sufficiently to change the effects to be more depressant.
Oxycodone is a discrete medication that goes by the brand names OxyContin®, Xtampza ER®, Roxicodone®, and Oxaydo®. However, oxycodone is also an active ingredient in many pain-relieving combination drugs. It is frequently combined with acetaminophen by drug manufacturers, giving rise to the following brand-name medications:
- Xartemis XR
Oxycodone Uses and Prescriptions
Oxycodone has been used in clinical settings since 1917, making it much older than many people realise. It has always been a painkiller, both moderate and severe, depending on the drugs with which it is combined. OxyContin is available in extended-release tablets that are designed to provide pain relief for up to 12 hours at a time.
In general, oxycodone is prescribed for people who have severe, long-lasting pain that has not responded to other medications. A doctor will not usually prescribe oxycodone or any of its combination drugs if another medication can control the pain when taken as directed. Some of the conditions that can cause such severe pain are as follows:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Specific injuries that cause chronic pain may also necessitate an oxycodone prescription. People who work in physically demanding jobs frequently develop chronic pain as a result of constant over-exertion. Football players, for example, have made headlines because of their struggles with prescription opioids and addiction.
The oxycodone in the Media and Public Eye
Oxycodone gained popularity as a prescription drug after Purdue Pharma began marketing it as OxyContin in 1996. Users initially hailed it as a miracle drug for its ability to quickly and effectively relieve pain. Purdue went all-in on physician marketing, distributing over 15,000 copies of a video titled “I Got My Life Back.” The video followed six patients who were taking OxyContin for non-cancer pain and encouraged the use of the drug for long-term pain relief. It even emphasised a supposed lack of side effects, which we now know is false.
By 1999, 86% of people who were prescribed opioids were using them for non-cancer-related pain, and the wide variation in usage, combined with a lack of oversight, began to lead to widespread drug abuse. As more evidence accumulated that opioids were highly addictive and had the potential to be fatal, the tide of public opinion began to turn in the late 1990s.
From the early 2000s to the present, all news coverage has focused on the opioid crisis, which has continued to worsen as a result of aggressive marketing and lax prescribing guidelines. The media continues to present opioid coverage in the form of terrifying statistics and emotional op-eds. While the opioid crisis is real and should be addressed publicly, the media’s portrayal of opioids may stigmatise those who suffer from addiction and prevent them from seeking help.
A High-Profile Problem for Purdue
Oxycodone, in particular, has re-entered the news cycle in 2019 as a result of new information about OxyContin’s creators. According to a recently discovered email, Dr. Richard Sackler, chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, was fully aware of the potential for OxyContin abuse and intended to shift blame. The email, which was released as part of a lawsuit against the company, urges:
“We must slam the abusers in every way possible.” They are both the perpetrators and the problem. They are rash criminals.”
However, the blame-shifting strategy failed as more people became addicted and the drug continued to ruin users’ lives. It has become painfully clear that oxycodone, in any of its brand-name forms or combinations, is a lethal medication.
Effects of Oxycodone
When you take oxycodone, the opioid compounds bind to G protein-coupled receptors in your brain, causing endorphins to be released. These chemicals are part of your brain’s reward system and influence your mood and physical state. They impair your ability to perceive pain while increasing your pleasure.
While people who take opioids as prescribed experience pain relief, they may also experience euphoria or an elevated sense of well-being. The problem is that your body normally produces endorphins in response to normal stimuli such as a delicious meal or a strenuous workout. They reinforce positive behaviours and encourage us to keep doing the things that make us happy and healthy.
Common Side Effects of Oxycodone
In addition to its analgesic and euphoric effects, oxycodone has a number of highly unpleasant side effects that can occur in both the short and long term. The side effects of oxycodone and Percocet are similar, though some other combinations may alter the strength or frequency of the effects. The most typical are:
- Blurry vision
- Dry mouth
For most people, the reduction in pain is sufficient to alleviate the majority of these symptoms. However, even minor manifestations of these side effects can impair a person’s ability to perform routine tasks such as dishwashing or finishing work projects. If someone is abusing oxycodone for recreational purposes, they may not even notice the side effects. However, this means they may miss the more severe symptoms of an overdose, such as:
Reducing Withdrawals With Medication
Participating in medication-assisted treatment is the best way to manage withdrawal without undergoing a formal detoxification process (MAT). Patients in this type of program are given daily doses of methadone or buprenorphine to help them cope with their symptoms.
These drugs are opioid agonists, which means they bind to the same receptors as oxycodone and other prescription pain relievers. They do not, however, produce the full range of opioid effects. Instead, methadone and buprenorphine cause just enough of a response in the receptors to prevent the most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.