Oxycodone is an opioid, a synthetic drug chemically similar to opiates like morphine or heroin. Oxycodone is manufactured from thebaine, a constituent of opium, and which can be highly addictive if used inappropriately.
The body manufactures endorphins, which are also called endogenous opioids. These natural chemicals bind to receptors in the brain and central nervous system to relieve pain and evoke feelings of pleasure. Drugs like oxycodone bind to the same opioid receptor sites that utilize the natural endorphins.
Although they bind to the same receptor sites as the endorphins, synthetic opioids don’t work like their natural counterparts. This can lead to side effects and abnormal nerve messages. The body never produces enough natural endorphins to cause an overdose, but it’s possible to overdose on opioids like oxycodone.
Oxycodone has many physical effects and is primarily used as a painkiller due to its effect on nerve signaling. Most over-the-counter pain relievers work by decreasing inflammation, but opioids like oxycodone don’t directly affect the site of an injury or malfunction. Instead, they slow or block the messages of pain that the brain sends.
Oxycodone may also cause feelings of pleasure or euphoria, which is why many people abuse it. This is due to the fact that opioids flood the body with dopamine, the body’s feel-good neurotransmitter. Dopamine encourages people to repeat activities that are beneficial, such as eating and procreation. Drugs like oxycodone cause the body to release many times more dopamine than natural rewards release.
When the body senses that neurotransmitter levels are too high, it lowers the amount produced, received or recycled. Therefore, when people drugs like oxycodone on a regular basis, the body reacts by producing less dopamine on its own. This leads to drug tolerance, in which ever increasing amounts of the drug must be taken to achieve the effects formerly received from a lower dose.
As the body continues to adapt, it eventually reaches the point that dopamine levels are abnormally low when the drug isn’t present. This causes the onset of withdrawal symptoms when users go long enough without a dose. When they experience withdrawal symptoms, users have developed drug dependence. Addiction has developed when they continue to use the drug despite negative consequences.
If you have developed an oxycodone addiction, we can help you recover. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline and let our phone counselors answer your questions and help you sort through treatment options. They can check your insurance coverage if you wish at no cost or obligation. Oxycodone addiction is a serious disease, but help is available. Don’t wait to call us.