Oxycodone is considered a narcotic and is commonly used as a pain reliever. It is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain in people with a multitude of conditions that are both irregular and ongoing. Oxycodone is chemically designed to replicate the structure of morphine (an opiate), and it classified as an opioid because it is a synthetic derivation of opiates. Just like many other narcotics such as fentanyl, morphine and heroin, oxycodone has a particularly high addiction profile. These narcotic drugs often have psychoactive effects on their users if more than a medically necessary dose is ingested. No one is safe from developing an addiction to oxycodone.

What are Some Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Abuse?

The misuse of oxycodone, a generic opioid prescription pain reliever, can quickly lead to addiction. There is a host of physical, psychological, and behavioral signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction, such as:

  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal thoughts
  • Dilated pupils (during withdrawal)
  • Diarrhea (during withdrawal)
  • Poor grooming or lack of hygiene
  • Becoming secretive about one’s whereabouts
  • Being in possession of multiple prescription bottles from different doctors and pharmacies
  • Drugged driving

The term addiction is a term that is commonly used in everyday language, however, this word is not considered clinically accurate anymore. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, uses the term substance use disorder, and now there is even a more specific term, opioid use disorder, which is where oxycodone abuse would fall. In order for a person to receive a diagnosis of an opioid use disorder, at least two of a possible 11 symptoms must be present within the same 12-month time period. The severity of a use disorder lies on a spectrum, from mild to moderate to severe. The more symptoms that are present, the more severe the disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the 11 possible symptoms are:

  1. Opioids are often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the opioid, use the opioid, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids.
  5. Recurrent opioid use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued opioid use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of opioids.
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of opioid use.
  8. Recurrent opioid use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Continued opioid use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a. A need for markedly increased amounts of opioids to achieve intoxication or desired effect. b. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of an opioid. Note: This criterion is not considered to be met for those taking opioids solely under appropriate medical supervision.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a. The characteristic opioid withdrawal syndrome (refer to Criteria A and B of the criteria set for opioid withdrawal). b. Opioids (or a closely related substance) are taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment Help

There are various approaches to the treatment of opioid use disorder. Medically-assisted treatment is a common approach that utilizes medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to help individuals break from oxycodone but suffer fewer and less intense withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are longer-acting opioid drugs that can keep receptors in the brain partially engaged with lower amounts and fewer doses. The “high” that these drugs cause is not as intense as oxycodone’s. It is not recommended to stop oxycodone use suddenly, therefore, oxycodone rehabilitation center may instead suggest a tapering method, in which amounts of the drug are slowly lowered over a set length of time until the individual is completely off the drug. Behavioral therapies and counseling sessions are also a large part to treatment of oxycodone abuse. Treatment can carry on years after an individual has stopped drug use by way of group and individual therapy sessions. Therefore, comprehensive care is designed to care for the person as a whole, from detox into recovery and beyond.