Opioids, like opium and fentanyl, are something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they have beneficial (and legal) medical uses. On the other hand, they are dangerously addictive, and many individuals who initially used them for medical purposes couldn’t quit using the drug.
Oxycodone is one of the more prominent semisynthetic opioids. Marketed in the U.S. as Oxycontin and Percocet, this usually-legal medical drug is causing an opioid crisis in North America and many other countries across the world due to its risky and addictive nature.
If you or someone you know is taking oxycodone, you can prepare for the worst by learning about the most dangerous oxycodone side effect.
Despite its potential for misuse, oxycodone is a beneficial drug in the right context. So what is oxycodone used for?
Oxycodone, an opioid drug, is primarily used as a pain reliever with a doctor’s prescription. It can also be used as a cough suppressant for adults. The drug is often ingested in pill form, although it can also be administered intravenously.
Besides pain relief, oxycodone can induce euphoric effects in its user, making it highly addictive. These effects lead to a psychological addiction to the drug. A person will continue to take oxycodone for its pleasurable benefits rather than for medical reasons.
A prolonged psychological addiction to oxycodone can lead to physiological addiction. The body slowly adjusts to the drug’s presence until it eventually relies on it, ultimately resulting in oxycodone dependence. At this point, quitting is challenging and dangerous since it might induce withdrawal symptoms in the user.
Side Effects of Oxycodone
Oxycodone has dangerous side effects, even for individuals who take them in a controlled manner. If you follow your doctor’s prescription, however, the symptoms will usually be mild and tolerable. These symptoms include drowsiness, nausea, itching, and lightheadedness.
For people who are addicted to oxycodone, however, the side effects become more severe. Stomach and chest pain, constipation, weakness, and headaches are common with prolonged exposure. Aside from this, users may also experience behavioral issues like mood swings and irritability.
The most dangerous oxycodone side effect, however, is respiratory failure. The drug can cause any number of breathing problems like apnea, respiratory arrest, or respiratory depression. It can also cause hypotension, which can lead to collapsed arteries and veins. Any of these scenarios require immediate medical attention as they can be fatal.
Oxycodone and Other Substances
Oxycodone is dangerous on its own, but the risks are heightened when you use it with other drugs or substances.
One of the most lethal combinations you can take is mixing alcohol with oxycodone. Effects include an increased chance of an overdose and other fatal complications, such as respiratory depression. Since both alcohol and an opioid like oxycodone have similar effects, the outcomes are much worse. And once the body rapidly absorbs an excessive concentration of oxycodone, it can cause death for the individual.
Oxycodone also interacts with many other drugs, which can have adverse, long-term effects on your health. These can range from respiratory problems to a coma. For example, studies have shown that combining oxycodone with acetaminophen can cause liver and kidney failure. Mixing oxycodone with narcotics like sedatives can also potentially slow, or stop, your breathing.
Other Side Effects
Dangerous symptoms of oxycodone addiction most likely occur in older people, malnourished individuals, or those with health complications. Some might also have an allergic reaction to the drug, which can cause hives and swelling of the throat, mouth, or face.
Using oxycodone and other opioids can also negatively affect fertility in both men and women.
To effectively stop an oxycodone addiction, it’s best to undergo an oxycodone detox. The symptoms of a detox usually last for seven days, and the first few days are often the most challenging part of the process. As with quitting any addiction, you might experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal can occur around 12 hours after your last oxycodone hit. It starts mild with anxiety, insomnia, cold-like symptoms, and body aches. As time passes, the withdrawal might get more severe. Potential symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and dilated pupils.
The good news is that while withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, they are rarely life-threatening.
After the seven-day detox, the individual often goes into a residential treatment program to completely wean him or her off the drug. This process lasts an average of 30 days but can be as long as 90 days for some.
Quitting an Oxycodone Addiction is Challenging, but Not Impossible
Correcting any dangerous habit is tricky, especially if you’re weaning from addictive drugs like oxycodone. But with the right treatment drug addiction programs and a compassionate support group, the road to recovery is more manageable.
At West Coast Recovery Center, we believe in personalizing each individual’s treatment because not everyone has the same needs. Contact us today and let us help you get your life back on track.