Oxymorphone (Opana) Addiction And Treatment Options

Oxymorphone, better known as Opana, is a powerful opioid with high potential for abuse and dependency. If not properly treated, abusing Oxymorphone and other prescription opioids may lead to further illicit drug use.

What Is Oxymorphone?

Oxymorphone is an opioid, also called a narcotic or analgesic, prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxymorphone is one of the more potent prescription opioids on the market.

Doctors who prescribe Oxymorphone give a slew of warnings, including the risk of slowed or difficult breathing within the first 72 hours of use – that’s how powerful this drug is.

Oxymorphone, brand name Opana, comes in tablet form, and is usually directed to take on an empty stomach, an hour or two before meals. Dosage will potentially be increased at a doctor’s recommendation if pain isn’t controlled in the patient. However, a person should never increase dosage on their own, as Oxymorphone has a high potential for abuse and dependency.

As a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedule II controlled substance, people abuse Oxymorphone to achieve effects of euphoria, similar to other opioids like heroin or oxycontin. Oxymorphone addiction is likely to occur when a person takes more than directed, crushes and snorts it, or dissolves the tablet in liquid and injects it.

Oxymorphone is one of many prescription opioids dangerously misused. Be aware of certain signs and symptoms of Oxymorphone addiction; abusing the drug can be lethal.

Signs And Symptoms Of Oxymorphone Addiction

Like all opioids, Oxymorphone affects the brain in ways that raise the likelihood of addiction. This is particularly true when the drug is used for nonmedical purposes, putting Oxymorphone on the same level of dependence, tolerance, and addiction as an illicit drug like heroin.

When a person suffers from an Oxymorphone addiction, they will likely take more and more to achieve euphoria or get high. They may begin to routinely show some common symptoms or side effects associated with Oxymorphone, including:

  • Flushing
  • Red eyes
  • Feelings of anxiousness or confusion
  • Stomach pain or swelling
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat

Those addicted to Oxymorphone will likely crush and snort or inject the drug. These methods of administration cause the drug to enter the bloodstream and brain quicker, producing euphoria almost instantaneously.

People will also show signs of typical drug seeking behavior, including craving the drug, compulsively using it, continuing use of the drug despite harm, and showing impaired judgment when it comes to Oxymorphone and other opioids.

Although Oxymorphone is a potent opioid, the effects of the drug are short-lived. Once an Oxymorphone addiction sets in, the person will likely have to take more and more of it, as tolerance and physical dependence builds and the effects last for less time. At this stage, a person is likely compelled to inject Oxymorphone. They may potentially inject small doses up to 8 times a day in order to sustain euphoria and avoid feelings of sickness and pain.

Injecting Oxymorphone out of necessity is a clear sign of addiction and potentially dangerous. This is a slippery slope toward other inherent dangers of Oxymorphone addiction.

Dangers Of Oxymorphone Addiction

Perhaps the greatest danger of Oxymorphone addiction is overdose. When it comes to not only abuse, but fatalities, opioids rank at the top of America’s prescription drug problem. The number of opioid overdose deaths have increased each year over the last 25 years. In 2014, nearly 19,000 people died from an opioid overdose.

Oxymorphone alone contributed to over 12,000 emergency room visits in 2011, most of which were the result of overdose. Overdose can occur anytime Oxymorphone is ingested, snorted, or injected, with chances increasing when a person frequently takes high doses.

Symptoms of an oxymorphone overdose may include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • slowed heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • slowed or stopped breathing
  • cold or clammy skin
  • change in pupil size
  • unusual snoring
  • extreme sleepiness

When injected, Oxymorphone produces similar euphoric effects to heroin. This is troubling because once a person enters the realm of Oxymorphone addiction, they increase their chances of trying heroin as well.

The evidence suggests this is due to prescription opioids becoming harder to get as the addiction crisis worsens, and heroin is often cheaper and easier to buy off the street. This is extremely dangerous not only because heroin is highly addictive, but because the risk of overdose is even greater.

Overdosing from heroin is common because there may be other opioids laced within the drug, like fentanyl or Oxymorphone. All prescription opioids can be deadly on their own, but adding heroin to the mix is even more dangerous.

The powerful addictive qualities of opioids, and the physical dependence and tolerance that occurs, makes stopping use of the drug painfully difficult. To avoid discomfort, many people will take more Oxymorphone, or switch to heroin, in order to combat the agonizing sickness of withdrawal.

Oxymorphone Addiction Withdrawal And Detox

Like many schedule II opioids, Oxymorphone is likely to cause physical dependence early on. As soon as physical dependence sets in, stopping use of the drug becomes extremely challenging. Symptoms of withdrawal can be severe, or less severe, depending on the level of frequency and abuse.

Severe symptoms of withdrawal from an Oxymorphone addiction include:

  • seizures
  • diarrhea
  • tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate)
  • hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)

Other symptoms of withdrawal are less severe, but still potentially agonizing, and include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, sweating, runny nose, stomach cramps, chills, irritability, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Withdrawal from Oxymorphone addiction is part of the body’s natural detoxification process where it rids itself of harmful toxins. If a person seeks treatment for withdrawal, they may receive medications to help combat feelings of sickness and pain. This is referred to as medically supervised detoxification.

Medically supervised detoxification is not a cure for Oxymorphone addiction, but is a helpful first step to aide with cravings and discomfort from withdrawal. Various combinations of behavioral and medication assisted therapies should follow in order to effectively treat addiction.

Oxymorphone Addiction Treatment

Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) makes use of FDA approved medication to treat those suffering from Oxymorphone addiction. Certain medications help opioid addicted people take ownership of their lives by acting on the brain similarly to the opioids that took over to begin with.

These medications are administered under professional supervision, and are less likely to produce the harmful behaviors caused by addiction. This is because the carefully administered drugs enter and leave the brain at a slower rate, affect the same receptors (brain connectors) as other opioids, and create a safer way to meet the body’s chemical dependence on opioids.

Three medications are commonly used in MAT, and include methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone (Vivitrol), all of which play a unique role in treating Oxymorphone addiction. Which drugs are administered, and how often, depends on the basic needs of the individual, allowing a doctor to utilize different treatment options on a person to person basis.

MAT is only successful in the long-term when it is combined with different behavioral therapies.

Some of the more effective behavioral therapies take place in an inpatient treatment center, where individuals reside and receive around the clock, 24 hour care. Behavioral therapies may consist of group or one on one therapies, and aim to change behavior and attitudes a person has towards drugs.

Which behavioral treatments are effective depend on the individual involved. But, the ultimate goal of behavioral therapy is to modify thought and behaviors in productive ways, and teach people how to deal with the lifelong struggle of addiction.


Sources

MedlinePlus – Oxymorphone

NIDA – America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

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