What Is Oxymorphone?
Oxymorphone is a prescription opioid used to treat severe pain or chronic pain when other medications have failed to help. This opioid analgesic blocks pain messages in the central nervous system (CNS) by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors.
Oxymorphone (14-hyroxydihydromorphinone) has similar effects to morphine, and it was first marketed as an injectable or rectal suppository as early as 1959. This prescription drug is marketed under the brand name Opana® or Opana® ER.
As a Schedule II controlled substance, oxymorphone is considered to have a high potential for abuse, which includes an increased risk for developing substance use disorder as a result of misuse.
Oxymorphone Side Effects
Oxymorphone is a painkiller that initiates chemical, neurological, and physiological changes in the body. Therefore, there are various side effects that can occur as a result of oxymorphone use or abuse.
Short-Term Side Effects of Oxymorphone
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headache or dizziness
- Itching or skin rash
The long-term side effects of oxymorphone can include developing a dependence on the drug, meaning your system will require more of it to receive the same benefits.
Someone who becomes dependent on an opiate such as oxymorphone will often experience withdrawal symptoms when they miss a dose or discontinue their use of the drug. Additionally, this dependence can lead to developing opiate use disorder.
Oxymorphone Abuse and Addiction
Oxymorphone abuse occurs when a user takes this medication without a prescription or outside of their prescription’s parameters. Taking higher doses than prescribed can lead to physical oxymorphone dependence.
Once the body becomes dependent on the drug, users may develop a mental craving that leads to oxymorphone abuse disorder.
Those who abuse oxymorphone take it orally, crush it and snort it, or mix it with water for intravenous injection. Snorting or injecting the drug brings on the impact faster, but these methods also increase the risk of an oxymorphone overdose.
In 2017, the FDA Got Involved
In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reached a decision that the oxymorphone extended-release medication known as Opana ER was not safe for consumers due to widespread abuse. This drug’s production company, Endo Pharmaceuticals, pulled all Opana ER from their shelves.
Unlike immediate-release tablets, extended-release oxymorphone tablets don’t provide all of the drug’s effects at once. Medical professionals initially thought this feature would prevent misuse, but drug users still found a way to achieve a high by snorting or injecting extended-release tablets.
How to Know When You Are Addicted to Oxymorphone
In large part, oxymorphone abuse symptoms resemble other opioid use disorders. However, oxymorphone doesn’t create the same euphoric effect as oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco), or heroin.
Signs of oxymorphone abuse include the following:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Dry mouth
- Changes in vision
- Irregular heart rate
- Abdominal pain
Someone who is addicted to oxymorphone may display the following signs of addiction:
- Cravings for the drug
- Not using their prescription as intended (or using the drug without a prescription)
- Visiting multiple doctors to get more than one prescription
- Obsession with acquiring or taking the drug
- Experiencing withdrawals when not taking the drug
Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options available for people who are experiencing addiction to oxymorphone. These options range in intensity based on the individual addiction.
Oxymorphone withdrawal happens when someone with oxymorphone dependence stops using the drug. Once the body no longer receives oxymorphone, it reacts to the absence of the drug in the bloodstream and brain. Working with medical professionals in a supervised environment can help ease the pain and discomfort of withdrawal as the body detoxifies.
For someone with oxymorphone dependence, withdrawal symptoms may vary in intensity and nature. The intensity and symptoms depend on the prevalence and frequency of use, and each person’s unique physiology.
Symptoms of oxymorphone withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Panic and anxiety
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble falling asleep
Additionally, some withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening, such as extreme dehydration or developing respiratory distress. Therefore, it’s a good idea to detoxify at a licensed facility specializing in opioid detox.
Recognizing the symptoms of an oxymorphone overdose is the first step in helping someone who experiences this health emergency. Signs of an oxymorphone overdose will look similar to an opioid overdose, and may include:
- Respiratory depression (breathing problems)
- Clammy skin
- Low blood pressure
If you suspect someone is experiencing an oxymorphone overdose, call 911 immediately and report the overdose. Stay with the victim until help arrives.
Oxymorphone Addiction Treatment
Oxymorphone addiction has a major impact on both the person with an opioid use disorder and everyone who depends on them. Thankfully, there are many treatment options for oxymorphone addiction to help you regain control of your life and improve your physical and mental health.
It is a good idea to slowly decrease your oxymorphone drug use under the supervision of trained medical professionals. Because withdrawal symptoms are sometimes painful or dangerous, the oxymorphone detox process is designed to ensure your safety while your body eliminates any oxymorphone from your system.
Once someone stops taking oxymorphone and makes it through withdrawal, there is a danger that they will relapse. Taking the same amount of drugs that they did before could lead to an overdose as the body is no longer used to the same dosage.
These dangers often cause those with oxymorphone use disorders to avoid seeking treatment.
Oxymorphone Treatment Programs
There are several types of oxymorphone addiction treatment programs available. Following detox, it’s a good idea to participate in a program that has both therapeutic and medical assistance available. Many programs also have aftercare to assist with transitioning back to normal living. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe you addiction medication to assist you during this transition (such as methadone or buprenorphine).
Inpatient rehab involves residential treatment for oxymorphone dependence. You will receive 24/7 care and individualized treatment plans to help you with the physical and mental aftermath of oxymorphone addiction.
Alternatively, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) involve behavioral and medical healthcare and provide 25 to 30 hours of instruction per week.
The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is often a good match for those with a mild oxymorphone addiction. Individuals attend daily IOP treatment but can also attend school, work, or take care of their families during the off hours.
Oxymorphone is an opioid, so it is included in the statistical data about overall opioid use. Approximately 1.27 million Americans receive medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, including oxymorphone addiction.
Despite a 4% overdose death reduction, there are still thousands of unnecessary deaths every year. Over 760,000 people died in 1999 due to drug overdose, and opiates were involved in two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2018.
Help for You or Someone You Love
Addiction and substance abuse affect more than just the addict themselves. The friends and family members of the person struggling with drug abuse often experience trauma themselves, whether it’s from concern for their loved one to arguments and even feelings of betrayal.
What many people don’t realize is that there is a myriad of support groups designed specifically for those who have struggled with a loved one’s addiction. From online forums to in-person meet-ups, you deserve the same care and support to help you cope with your loved one’s addiction during this troubling time.
Oxymorphone Addiction FAQs
Can Oxymorphone overdose be treated?
If the victim has collapsed, call 911 for emergency services. There is also information available via the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Administer Naloxone (NARCAN) to potentially reverse the life-threatening effects of oxymorphone overdose.
While waiting for emergency responders to come, bystanders can roll a person onto their side to help them breathe and stay with the victim.
What is oxymorphone?
Oxymorphone (brand name: Opana) is an opioid analgesic designed to provide relief for chronic or severe pain. This painkiller is prescribed to provide a long-term pain solution around the clock and is not intended to be an as-needed pain reliever.
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Health Resources and Services Administration. Opioid Crises. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.hrsa.gov/opioids
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Oxymorphone (marketed as Opana ER) information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved December 22, 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/oxymorphone-marketed-opana-er-information