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What is Involved in Oxycodone Treatment?

Article Details
  • Written By: Grace A. Zuccarello
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 December 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Oxycodone is an addictive painkiller medication. Treatment for oxycodone addiction includes two primary options, substitution or detox, which are often used in combination. Frequently health care providers will combine the two methods of oxycodone treatment in order to increase a patient's chances of success.

A synthesized opioid analgesic, oxycodone used as a prescribed pain medication. It is derived from thebaine, and is in the same family as opiates such as morphine, heroin, and codeine. The drug OxyContin® has high amounts of oxycodone, and it is extremely habit forming. Variations of this drug are available in numerous strength levels and under a variety of generic names.

Substitution includes using medically prescribed drugs that have similar effects to oxycodone, but which are different in molecular composition. They are less harmful to the body and provide relief from strong cravings. Forms of detox include inpatient, cold turkey, and the Waismann Method of anesthesia. Detox may prove less effective for oxycodone treatment because symptoms of withdrawal are so strong that they often cause a patient to relapse.

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Inpatient detox is often required as an oxycodone treatment because withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful. They include hot and cold flashes, muscle and bone aches, upset stomach, and extreme irritability. Symptoms usually begin within a few hours of a patient's last dose, and their severity increases as time goes on. The substitute drug Suboxone® is often used during detox, while methadone is used more frequently for out-patient recovery.

The Waismann Method uses anesthesia and naltrexone as an oxycodone treatment. Naltrexone is the chemical opposite of opiates, and it reduces the chemical imbalance they cause. During rapid detox, the patient is put to sleep with anesthesia in order to avoid the pain of withdrawal symptoms. After detox, the patient is administered naltrexone for up to one year in order to prevent cravings and to reverse the chemical imbalance caused by oxycodone.

Methadone substitution involves the patient taking a prescribed amount of the drug methadone. This drug is similar in effect to opiates; however, it lacks the molecular composition, and thus, the harmful effects. Doses are usually in pill form, and they last anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. Methadone affects the opiate receptor in the brain and often successfully reduces cravings. It does not, however, provide the "high" experienced from oxycodone. Long term use of methadone is common, as cravings can return once the methadone is discontinued.

Suboxone® is comprised of buprenorphine with naloxone. It works similarly to methadone, but buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning that it contains an opiate, and provides relief from withdrawal symptoms, but does not provide the "high" of oxycodone. It occupies the mu receptor in order to provide alleviation from cravings. Suboxone® is often used immediately during an inpatient detox in order to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. It can cause dependency, so it is best to discuss the long term effects with the patient's health care professional.

Most patients who follow through with oxycodone treatment options usually make a full recovery within six months. It may take a longer or shorter period of time, depending on the severity of each case. Patients and their health care providers must look at a variety of factors, including the level of dependency, medical history, and mental health, in order to decide which treatment option is right for them.

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