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Risk Factors For Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau, MSCP, LPCI, NCC

March 25, 2019

Oxycodone is an opioid painkiller that is used to treat mild to moderate pain. People who have a history of addiction or mental illness are at an increased risk for oxycodone abuse and addiction. Oxycodone addiction can be treated at rehab centers across the U.S.

Opioids like oxycodone are a major problem in the U.S. — especially among young people. More than 15 people die from an overdose every day, and opioid abuse is now considered to be an epidemic.

To combat these rising rates of overdose, the medical community has identified several risk factors in order to prevent further abuse and addiction. The risk factors that make a person more vulnerable to opioid addiction include age, genetics, and untreated mental illness.

Oxycodone causes feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Because the drug has pleasurable effects, it has a high potential for abuse. This means that people who take this drug can easily become addicted.

The high from oxycodone is short-lived, which can cause a person to crave another dose. Part of what makes oxycodone so addictive is the swift physical craving for another dose.

While opioid analgesics can be a legitimate form of treatment for certain patients, millions of people struggle with oxycodone dependence and abuse.

Physical And Psychological Risks Of Oxycodone Abuse

Oxycodone abuse can damage a person’s physical and psychological well-being. Like most medications, oxycodone comes with a list of potential side effects. Some of these side effects can be fatal, including overdose.

Physical risks of oxycodone abuse include:

  • constipation
  • itching
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sore muscles
  • chest pain
  • change in sexual drive or ability
  • uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
  • overdose

Oxycodone can also have a serious effect on a person’s mental health. In addition to dependence and addiction, oxycodone can cause a change in mood and energy level.

Additional health risks of oxycodone abuse include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • difficulty sleeping
  • hallucinations
  • decreased coordination
  • extreme drowsiness (“nodding out”)
  • altered judgment and decision-making

Oxycodone can also have economic impacts on a person’s life. If a person runs through their oxycodone prescription, they may resort to buying the drugs off the street. This can become very expensive, and could put a person in dangerous situations.

Additionally, a person may struggle with the social risks of oxycodone abuse and addiction. They may have trouble keeping a job or maintaining healthy relationships.

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What Are The Risk Factors For Abusing Oxycodone?

Researchers have discovered some specific risk factors that help us understand why some people are more at risk for addiction and abuse. These include genetics and certain brain characteristics.

Genetics And Family Environment

People who have alcoholism or addiction in their family are at an increased risk for oxycodone addiction. Science also shows that being raised in a social or family environment that encourages substance misuse also increases a person’s chance of struggling with opioid abuse.

Traumatic Experiences

If a person experiences a traumatic event, it may increase their chance of struggling with oxycodone abuse. Trauma changes the way the brain responds to stress, and someone may use drugs as a coping mechanism.

Untreated Mental Health Condition

People who have a mental illness like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder in their family may grow up in a stressful environment. A family history of mental health conditions is a risk factor for opioid abuse.

Additionally, if someone struggles with a mental health condition and does not get proper treatment, their risk of addiction increases.

Past Or Current Substance Abuse

If a person has a history of drug abuse, they are considered at risk for oxycodone abuse and addiction. This drug is prescribed to a wide array of people for pain management purposes. Medical providers should be aware if their patient has any history of substance abuse.

Age And Ethnicity

People between the ages of 18-25 are at an increased risk for opioid dependence and abuse. Non-Hispanic whites have the highest instance of opioid overdose, especially in rural areas.

Risk Of Oxycodone Overdose

Oxycodone abuse contributes to the current overdose crisis facing the U.S. Many people who end up suffering an opioid overdose were provided a legal oxycodone prescription that was deemed necessary by their doctor.

Oxycodone suppresses a person’s heart rate and breathing pattern. Stopped breathing is the number one cause of fatal overdose. Using oxycodone with other drugs increases the risk of overdose. This is especially true for alcohol and benzodiazepines.

Signs of an oxycodone overdose include:

  • difficult or slowed breathing
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • unconsciousness
  • blue tint to the lips, fingernails, or skin
  • coma

Oxycodone overdose is a medical emergency. If you see a person experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 as soon as possible.

Oxycodone Withdrawal And Detox Programs

If a person has been taking oxycodone for any length of time, their body may be dependent on the drug. When people who are dependent on oxycodone stop their use suddenly, they are at risk for experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

Signs of oxycodone withdrawal include:

  • anxiety
  • yawning
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • shaking legs
  • watery eyes
  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • muscle aches or weakness

Many people who suffer from oxycodone addiction have tried to get off the medication before. However, oxycodone withdrawal symptoms are painful, and can be difficult to navigate at home.

Medical detox programs provide a safe place for people to detox from oxycodone. Supervision and medication-assisted treatment can help a person feel supported as they detox from opioids.

Medical staff may administer medications like Suboxone and Zubsolv, in order to decrease withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment is an important part of opioid detox, as it can help reduce the chance of relapse.

Treatment For Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with oxycodone abuse, you don’t have to battle this addiction alone. Inpatient rehab centers provide customized, effective treatment that empowers people to find a new life in recovery.

Inpatient treatment programs provide recovery therapies like medication-assisted treatment, sober living skills, and group counseling.

To learn more about the risk factors for oxycodone abuse and addiction, or to explore treatment options near you, contact one of our specialists today.

U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health - Risk Factors for Opioid-Use Disorder and Overdose

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