Unintentional Oxycodone Dependence

Unintentional Oxycodone DependenceOxycodone is a synthetic opiate found in prescription painkillers such as Percocet, Percodan and OxyContin. It is sometimes combined with over-the-counter painkillers to enhance the painkilling properties of the drug and to prevent intentional abuse. When used for more than a few days, oxycodone may lead to unintentional physical dependence, even when taken as prescribed.

How Oxycodone Addiction Develops

When people take oxycodone, the brain and body are unaccustomed to the effects, so the drug will have a powerful euphoric and painkilling effect. It binds to opiate receptors to block pain and cause the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that feels pleasurable. Oxycodone also represses activity in the locus coeruleus, a part of the brain that affects panic, stress and motivation. Over time the body adjusts to the presence of oxycodone. After repeated doses, the body begins to produce more neurotransmitters in the LC in order to compensate for the effects of oxycodone, thus requiring more and more doses to feel pleasure.

When oxycodone dependency develops, the brain becomes used to overcompensating, and it may be difficult to adjust to a sudden lack of the drug. When oxycodone wears off, a lack of the drug may cause an excessive amount of neurotransmitters in the LC which will lead to anxiety, muscle cramps and insomnia. The brain’s reward system may become used to high amounts of dopamine and may be unable to produce enough without the presence of oxycodone. This will lead to rebound depression and sensitivity to pain. These uncomfortable symptoms are signs of withdrawal and oxycodone dependence.

Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

People who take oxycodone for pain may be unaware that they are becoming dependent. If the drug is prescribed at regular intervals, people become dependent may not experience withdrawal symptoms. However, when the medication runs out or a dose is taken later than usual, uncomfortable withdrawal effects may signify that an unintentional dependency is developing.

If oxycodone has been in the body for more than a few days, patients may confuse painful withdrawal symptoms with pain. This may cause people to keep taking oxycodone in the belief that they are treating pain. In reality, quitting oxycodone is the only way to stop uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. If pain symptoms persist, talk to your doctor about rebound withdrawal effects and how to treat them.

How to Manage Pain without Oxycodone

When prescribed oxycodone for pain, talk to your doctor about the potential for dependency. Request the lowest dose for pain management, and stay in contact with doctors and pharmacists about the effects of the medication. When used properly, oxycodone reduces pain without causing excessive euphoria. Other ways to reduce the risk of unintentional oxycodone dependence include the following tips:

  • Rotate oxycodone with other painkillers such as acetaminophen
  • Supplement oxycodone with acupuncture or massage therapy
  • Take the lowest dose necessary to manage pain
  • Use ice or heat to treat muscle or joint pain

Side effects such as dizziness, euphoria, sedation or respiratory repression may suggest that the dosage should be reduced. Always check with your doctor before changing your medication.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

If you take oxycodone and worry about addiction, call us now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline to answer your questions and help you decide if treatment is right for you. Call now, as we can help you break free from oxycodone dependence.