Roxicodone Addiction and Abuse
Roxicodone, a brand name for the medication oxycodone, is an opioid pain reliever that is highly addictive. Some individuals may refer to Roxicodone as Roxies. The active ingredient is the same as that in OxyContin, but it different from OxyContin in a key way. According to OncoLink, OxyContin is an extended-release medication, and Roxicodone is used for immediate relief for moderate to severe pain.
Since the medication takes effect so quickly, Roxicodone has a high potential for abuse. Because of this, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency classifies Roxicodone as a Schedule II medication, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse that may lead to dependence. Individuals often erroneously believe that since Roxicodone is a prescription medication, it is safer than illicit drugs.
Many individuals who become dependent on Roxicodone do so after being prescribed the medication for legitimate pain. They may develop a tolerance to the drug, meaning they will have to take a higher dose of the medication to achieve the same pain-relieving effects.
Other individuals may use Roxicodone in a recreational manner, to achieve a “high” from the medication. They may take the medication orally, or they may crush the tablets in order to snort or inject the medication. These methods of use result in a faster, more intense high.
Effects of Roxicodone
Roxicodone is most commonly used recreationally by individuals looking for the euphoria the medication can cause. This euphoria occurs because Roxicodone attaches to the same receptors in the brain as those targeted by heroin, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This causes a flood of dopamine, the neurotransmitter related to the brain’s reward center. Individuals grow dependent on Roxicodone as their bodies become accustomed to the excessive dopamine in the brain, and they wish to achieve that effect again.
The Physician’s Desk Reference notes that Roxicodone may cause various side effects, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Slow breathing
NIDA states that there is currently research being done to determine the long-term effects of opioids, such as Roxicodone, on the brain.
Signs of Abuse and Dependence
Addiction is a psychological disorder that can be defined by drug-seeking behaviors and the inability to stop abusing the drug, even if there have been negative consequences for such use. Some signs that an individual may be addicted to Roxicodone include:
- Obtaining multiple prescriptions for Roxicodone
- Forging or tampering with prescriptions
- Mood swings
- Stealing Roxicodone, or money to purchase the drug, from family and friends
- Hostility or aggression
- Poor attendance at work and school
- Financial difficulties
- Legal difficulties
- Devoting substantial time to obtaining Roxicodone, using it, and recovering from use
NIDA states that more than 2 million individuals in the United States are dependent on prescription opioid pain medications. Physical dependence, according to NIDA, means that an individual’s body has become accustomed to the drug’s presence, and if the drug use is stopped, the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity and may be managed by medications. Potential withdrawal symptoms from Roxicodone include:
- Muscle pain
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Dangers of Abuse and Dependence
There are nearly 7,000 individuals treated in emergency rooms daily due to prescription medications not being used as prescribed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids like Roxicodone are some of the most common drugs involved in prescription drug overdoses. In fact, the CDC reports that in 2008 alone, there were 105,200 visits related to opioid pain medications (including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone).
Since Roxicodone is an opioid, it slows the central nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing and heart rate. Because of this, NIDA warns that it is dangerous for individuals to combine Roxicodone with other medications that also depress the nervous system, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, tranquilizers, other opioids, and alcohol.
Roxicodone abuse can also lead to heroin use. NIDA states that in a 2009 study of young injection drug users, 86 percent of those interviewed had used prescription opioid pain medication recreationally before using heroin.
Individuals who wish to stop using Roxicodone should not stop using the drug abruptly, as this could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. For those addicted to Roxicodone, the first step of recovery is medical detox. This should be done in a licensed treatment facility, where clients are kept safe and comfortable while they are supervised around the clock by medical professionals. Medications may be used during medical detox to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
The most important aspect of treatment is therapy. Therapy comes in many forms and will address the underlying reasons that led to substance abuse in the first place. It’s imperative that treatment is tailored to the individual in question. There is no one-size-fits-all option that will work for everyone.
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