In 2015, the American Society of Addiction Medicine said that approximately 20,101 people overdosed and died due to prescription pain relievers. One of the pain killers associated with these deaths was oxycodone. It is important for all people to understand the basics of this drug and information about the addiction associated with it.

What is Oxycodone?

It is a type of narcotic pain killer. It is an opioid that is prescribed when someone is in moderate to severe pain, such as after surgery or a broken bone. There are immediate-release and extended-release versions of this drug. It may be alone or combined with aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Even when taken as prescribed, there is a risk for dependence and tolerance.

Side Effects and Symptoms of Abuse

This drug works on opioid receptors in the body. It may cause reduced pain and muscular tension, euphoria and mental relaxation or calmness. Less desirable side effects may include difficult or slowed breathing, vomiting and nausea, alternating periods of consciousness and sleep, constipation and confusion. When someone is overdosing on this drug, they may experience:

• Pupils constrict and do not react to light
• No responding, even to stimuli that is painful
• Cyanotic fingernails and lips
• Hard to wake and extreme sedation
• Respiratory arrest

Effects of Abuse

Drug abuse with this opioid may result in addiction. Prior to this stage, tolerance is possible. This means that someone needs to start taking more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Once a person becomes addicted to this drug or develops a dependence, they can experience withdrawal symptoms when they are without it. Withdrawal symptoms associated with this pain reliever may include:• Increased pain sensitivity or rebound pain• Inability to sleep
• Excessive sweating
• Agitation or restlessness
• Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, vomiting, appetite changes and nausea
• Shivering and feeling cold

Addiction Treatment

Treatment for addiction to this drug often starts with detox. This may be supervised to help someone to cope with the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal. During this stage of rehab, a person reduces how much of the drug is in their body until none is left. Professionals that are involved help the patient to be as comfortable and safe as possible. In some cases, patients are prescribed other medications to help alleviate their symptoms and reduce their cravings.

Following detox, there are a number of rehab options someone might consider. The most common include outpatient or residential treatment facilities. No programs or facilities are exactly the same. Someone should consider their needs and research what is available to them. However, understanding the basics allows someone to determine whether a residential or outpatient program is best for them.

A residential treatment center houses those working to recover from addiction. This means living there 24/7 and constantly being exposed to a supportive environment. Patients are provided with meals and snacks at the facility. In the morning or afternoon, there may be group meetings or other activities for patients to take part in. Patients may meet counselors alone and in groups to discuss issues and work to develop new habits that are productive and healthy. Meetings and individual sessions are usually scheduled.

Patients usually have access to different areas of the facility where they can engage in activities, such as exercising, creating art or playing games with others staying at the facility. There is often a scheduled time to wake up and go to sleep. How long a person needs to remain in a residential facility depends on their addiction and other issues they might be coping with.

Outpatient treatment means that the patient goes to meetings and appointments regularly but lives at home. Some programs are more intensive and require patients to meet at least three days a week. Each session lasts approximately two to four hours a day. In some cases, the sessions can be worked around a person’s regular schedule to make them easier to attend.

Counseling and therapy are another choice. The patient and their counselor will determine which types are best and how often a person needs to attend. Possible therapy types include behavioral therapy, family counseling, group therapy or individual therapy.

No matter which outpatient option a person chooses, it is imperative that they have a stable home environment and support. If they do not, residential programs might be the better option.

This information is something everyone should know. It may help someone suffering get treatment or aid a loved one determine when someone in their life might need help.

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