What is oxycodone and why is it legal?
Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic opioid, has been in the news lately. This prescription opioid drug is the key ingredient in medications such as Percocet, Percodan, and OxyContin. It is a highly controlled narcotic with the potential for abuse and addiction. The makers of OxyContin have been under attack by state governments, the federal government, and lawyers representing the people. Now, manufacturers and wholesalers of other brands of oxycodone, including generic tablets, are also under fire. The pharmaceutical industry is being held accountable for their actions relating to a drug that is over 100-years-old. Other opiate drugs from the past century are no longer legal, due to their addictive nature. Why is oxycodone still legal?
A prescription drug that has proven its usefulness in medicine.
Oxycodone is still legal because it works well to manage pain. After surgery, patients can suffer from significant pain as they heal. Cancer and the treatment for cancer can result in severe pain as well. Additionally, there are patients who have ongoing chronic pain. If you were in pain, would you want medication to provide relief? There are experts who say opioid medications should be either a last resort or not an option at all. This is a serious debate that has continued for decades, causing the pendulum to swing back and forth between doctors prescribing more opioids and then fewer opioids. Regardless of the current public opinion, oxycodone does relieve pain and it continues to be used in hospitals and it is prescribed by doctors.
How much oxycodone causes physical dependence?
First, it is important to point out that there is a difference between addiction and dependence. Physical dependence is what happens when you take a drug for more than just a few days. Your body becomes used to the drug. When the drug is taken away, you feel physically sick. This happens with certain drugs, but not all drugs. Dependence is common with opioids such as oxycodone. Addiction is a different problem altogether. If you become addicted to oxycodone, you will constantly obsess over it. You will continue to use oxycodone, in spite of the fact that it is causing harm to you. You are more likely to become addicted if you engage in oxycodone abuse. As far as physical dependence goes, the amount of oxycodone it will take will vary from one person to another. Usually, short term use of a relatively low dose will not cause dependence.
Can a person develop an oxycodone addiction after taking the prescription drug after surgery?
If you take oxycodone as prescribed by your surgeon after surgery for severe pain, your chances of becoming addicted are fairly low. However, if you have a personal history of drug addiction, particularly opiate addiction, your chances of becoming addicted are much higher. If you have a family history of alcoholism
or addiction, your risk is also increased. It is important to discuss your personal history and family history with your doctors before they prescribe medications or medical treatment to you. While the risk of addiction is low, you will still be at risk of becoming addicted if you take oxycodone. This is an important point. Even if the risk were as low as 1%, developing an opiate addiction, or opioid use disorder, is a serious problem.
How long will I need to recover from oxycodone abuse?
If you are abusing oxycodone and you have become addicted, you may have a long road ahead of you. Oxycodone is a habit-forming drug. When you take oxycodone, you risk developing oxycodone addiction. When you abuse the drug, your risk is much greater, especially if you already have a personal or family history of addiction. Oxycodone addiction treatment involves a form of treatment known as MAT or medication-assisted treatment. Fortunately, MAT works and it works well for many people. On the other hand, it is not a cure for oxycodone addiction. Addiction is a chronic condition that does not go away with short-term treatment.
How long does a withdrawal from oxycodone abuse last?
If you have an oxycodone dependence and you make the decision to quit taking the painkiller, you may have to face the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal. Especially after long-term abuse, withdrawal can be difficult. The withdrawal symptoms are severe and long-lasting. Withdrawal can last a week or more. Some users complain of withdrawal-related symptoms, such as insomnia, depression, aches, and chills, even months after quitting the drug. If you are addicted, you will also likely suffer from intense drug cravings. This is why relapse is so common. Fortunately, with MAT, using drugs such as Suboxone, the withdrawal period is short, usually 24-hours or less.
Is oxycodone worse than heroin?
This is a good question. We think of heroin as being a dangerous street drug with no medical use. In fact, heroin converts to morphine in the body. Morphine is legal and commonly used for medical pain management. The distinction between legal and illegal opiates is somewhat arbitrary. If oxycodone became illegal tomorrow, there are still many prescription opioids that work just fine. During past medication shortages, when oxycodone was not available to patients, doctors would simply substitute it with another prescription opioid.
Why not just have one legal opioid and make all the rest illegal?
This is a good question. When a patient has been prescribed an opioid for a long time, they may develop tolerance to the drug. That means that it will not work as well over time. One option is for the doctor to increase the dosage. A better option may be to try a different opioid. There is an effect known as “incomplete cross-tolerance”. This means that switching a patient from one opioid to another may help to overcome the tolerance. This is one reason that it is good for doctors to have multiple opioids to choose from when prescribing them as pain relievers.
How can we end opioid addiction while opioids are still legal and prescribed by doctors?
We will probably never end opioid addiction altogether. However, we can greatly reduce it with responsible prescribing and patient monitoring. Oxycodone use can lead to oxycodone addiction, so doctors must be careful in prescribing this drug. Patients must also take care to secure their prescription medication and keep it safe. Medications with high abuse potential should be stored in a hidden space, locked in a safe or locked box. Never keep prescription opioids in your bathroom medicine cabinet.