The Difference Between Oxycodone and Other Painkillers

The Difference Between Oxycodone and Other Painkillers

Understanding the difference between oxycodone and other painkillers can help you evaluate the risks of taking this highly addictive drug

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opiate that is a notorious for sweeping nearly 16 million Americans into the prescription drug epidemic according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. To some people who struggle with chronic pain, it is a godsend. It enables them to function normally instead of suffering in agony and struggling to accomplish daily tasks. To individuals who become addicted, however, oxycodone is a trap. Highly addictive, it places them in a cycle of addiction that many escape only through death.

Oxycodone 101: Basic Facts

Oxycodone can be taken orally as a pill. Its slow-release formula releases the dose over several hours. Typically, people who abuse it do so by crushing pills and then snorting them, a method known as insufflation. Another method of ingestion common among illicit users is to mix the crushed pills with water and inject them intravenously. Both routes of administration cause dopamine levels in the brain to skyrocket, generating a sensation of intense euphoria. As the central nervous system (CNS) adjusts, virtually shutting down all perceptions of pain, individuals often feel flooded with feelings of calm and wellbeing. They sink into a blissful state of rest, feeling as if they have been wrapped in a warm blanket that insulates them from all care and worry.

An oxycodone high lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to three or four hours, depending on tolerance and dosage. Most people become addicted after three weeks of regular use although this timeframe also varies based on the individual using patterns and tolerance.

People who are addicted display a variety of symptoms including constricted pupils, emotional reactivity and high anxiety levels. Another sign of oxycodone addiction is withdrawal. When steadily exposed to a drug such as painkillers, the body builds up tolerance, and it requires more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same effect. If a person takes less of the opiate—or attempts to stop cold turkey—the body reacts negatively. Deprived of its customary supply, it often manifests a range of symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, common mood symptoms that result include depression, euphoria, anxiety, moodiness and irritability. Typical behaviors include the following:

  • Lying to others about amount used
  • Hiding drug use from others
  • Borrowing or stealing pills from loved ones
  • Visiting several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Consistently pretending to lose prescriptions
  • Hiding oxycodone in several places
  • Drowsiness
  • Financial problems
  • Borrowing or stealing money from friends and family
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work or home
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Physical symptoms often evident in oxycodone addicts include nodding out and feeling dizzy.

Other signs include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Pupillary constriction
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory depression
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth

Mental health also suffers once dependence sets in. People who have become addicted may display paranoid delusions or have hallucinations. Their overall emotional health may visibly worsen as may other mental disorders.

One benefit of receiving professional medical care through a rehab facility is getting professional care in each of these areas. Withdrawal becomes safer and less painful, as individuals are gradually weaned off of oxycodone, not forced to stop all at once. Co-occurring mental conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression can also be treated making relapse less likely.

Oxycodone’s Strong Appeal: An Explanation

According to a report issued by ABC news, the secret to oxycodone’s appeal lies in its formulation. Unlike other analgesics, it comes in a long acting formula. Designed with a time-release mechanism to fend off chronic pain, it allows a patient to take only one pill every 12 hours. For chronic pain sufferers who may have had to take other painkillers as often as six times a day, that simplification spells vast improvement.

Unfortunately, addicted individuals exploit the formulation essentially circumventing the time-release mechanism to receive the high dose all at once. Abusers discovered this trick soon after the prescription painkiller was introduced in 1996. They found that by chewing, snorting or injecting the powder that comes from crushed pills, they could experience a high as powerful as heroin. Compounding these addictive dangers of oxycodone are the lethal side effects it can have. When high on oxycodone, users feel like they can tolerate higher doses—amounts that trigger respiratory failure especially when taken with other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Like other narcotics, when taken for prolonged periods of time oxycodone reduces a person’s ability to produce pleasure-producing chemicals naturally. Many people find it impossible to resist the pull back into drug abuse, which is why severely addicted individuals often benefit from extended inpatient treatment.

Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

If you or a loved one suffers from oxycodone abuse, we can help. Admissions coordinators are available at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to guide you to wellness and affordable solutions. Please call today. Take the first step toward a life of health and wholeness.