Just several days ago, the family owning Purdue Pharma agreed to pay a settlement of 4.5 billion dollars for its role in the opioid crisis. It’s estimated that 50-80% of opiate addicts started with opioid medications, Purdue Pharma’s oxycontin and oxycodone being blamed for a huge part of that. And hundreds of thousands of these But why is Oxycodone so dangerous? It’s just a safe, prescription pill, right? Oxy packs a powerful punch and addiction to it is almost guaranteed to lead to something stronger.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone (or its extended-release option oxycontin) is an intense opiate painkiller that comes in various dosages from 10mg-80mg. When used as intended, it can be an effective medication for moderate to severe pain. The problem is that studies have shown that anywhere from 30%-50% of people who are prescribed the drug end up misusing it. And once abused, the drug becomes deadly addictive in a matter of days or weeks.
Why is Oxycodone Such a Dangerous Narcotic?
Other than the fact that opiates may be the most addictive substance known, studies have shown that opiates do more to the brain than just relieve pain. According to the National Institute of Health:
Evidence from animal and human studies suggests that opiate drugs decrease emotional responses to negative stimuli and increase responses to positive stimuli. (NIH)
What this means is that extended use can change the brain chemistry to motivate misuse. This is because the drug makes the user feel better about good things that happen and indifferent to the negative. The problem is that just because the user is indifferent to the negative effects of his/her drug use, doesn’t mean they go away. Addiction continues and the negative effects associated do as well.
Can Brand-Name OxyContin Be Injected?
Before 2010, brand-name OxyContin tablets in the United States were easily injected but a change in the formula made it much harder for the drug to be abused intravenously. Regardless, there are generic and other manufacturer’s oxycodone tablets that continue to be injected by oxycodone-addicted individuals. Unfortunately, all the brand-name Oxycontin formula change did was send many of the abusers toward heroin rather than the pills which were now harder to inject. But did they prevent users from injecting oxy? The short answer is no. Abusers are extremely innovative and quickly discovered ways of getting around the new “gelling” formula. Even after changing the formula, addicts were either using heroin or figuring out ways around the new formula and still abusing their pharmaceutical opiates.
What are the Dangers of Oxycodone Addiction?
There are 10,000 to 15,000 opiate overdoses per day in the United States of America. Although the risk of overdose on prescription medications is small compared to that of street drugs, the danger comes from its propensity to lead to something stronger.
If you or someone you know is abusing opiates or if you live in an area where opiates are widely abused, there are things you can do to be prepared. One thing you can do (and this goes for everyone! You never know when you could save a life) is to have on hand the opiate overdose-reversing drug called Naloxone. This drug naloxone is available in most cities for free and is widely available for free to anyone who needs it.
Addicted to Oxycodone, or Know a Loved One That Is?
Unfortunately, without professional help, recovery from opiate abuse is about 50/50 in the long run. The best thing you can do if affected is to make sure that professional help is available and take advantage of it. Detoxing from opiates on one’s own is extremely dangerous and is always recommended that withdrawals be done in the presence of medical professionals. We at Allure Detox have professionals who can help on your path to sobriety.