Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic and a historically popular substance of abuse. As part of the opioid drug class, oxycodone is often prescribed under the brand name OxyContin to treat moderate to severe or chronic pain. Unfortunately, opioids are notorious for their addiction potential, and many users will eventually become dependent on the drug and use it in various ways to get high. While we know that you can inject and snort pills, can you smoke oxycodone, too? Below is more on this dangerous habit.
How Does Oxycodone Work?
Oxycodone is synthesized or extracted from thebaine, a constituent of the opium poppy plant. Like many other opioids, oxycodone has been utilized as a prescription painkiller and a very common one, too. It’s marketed alone as OxyContin in 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg extended-release tablets as well as immediate-release formulations like 5mg OxyIR®. It’s also often combined with other products, such as aspirin, to create Percodan or with acetaminophen to create Roxicet.
Like other opioid drugs, oxycodone works by attaching itself to opioid receptors in the user’s body, which are located in the brain, central nervous system, gut, and other areas. When attached, oxycodone blogs pain signaling going from the body to the brain to alleviate the individual’s symptoms and make them more comfortable.
The drug is available in both liquid and tablets or capsules and can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to take effect. The onset and duration of oxycodone effects vary depending on the type of formulation taken – immediate-release or extended-release.
While effective for treating pain by blocking pain signaling, opioids like oxycodone also have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Oxycodone triggers the release of endorphins and dopamine, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters or chemical messengers. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain, while both these and dopamine boost feelings of pleasure.
When taken in large doses, a euphoric oxycodone high can occur, which is what makes the drug most addictive. When this high wears off, most users find themselves wanting to experience those good feelings again as soon as possible. This is usually the first step in a downward spiral toward addiction.
If you find yourself taking your opioid medication more frequently or at higher doses than prescribed by your doctor, speak to them immediately, as this could indicate a developing dependence. Our BHOPB detox center could also aid in your recovery by offering medication-assisted treatment for withdrawals.
What Are the Effects Of Oxycodone Smoking and Abuse?
Yes, you can smoke oxycodone. In an attempt to get high, some OxyContin abusers may crush up the pills to snort the powder or dissolve it in liquid and inject it intravenously (into the vein.) These methods of abuse may produce a more intense and fast-acting high because they send the drug into the brain more quickly. Some people also smoke oxycodone by crushing the pills, heating them on tin foil, and inhaling the vapor or smoking through a straw.
Common side effects of smoking OxyContin include:
- Excessive coughing
- Poor lung functioning
- Impaired coordination and judgment
- Lack of responsiveness
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory depression
- Shortness of breath
While many people do smoke oxycodone, injecting and snorting crushed pills seem to be more common methods of abuse. However, people will often switch their methods of use as their opioid addictions worsen. This is due to tolerance.
Over time, the body becomes tolerant to the effects of injecting, snorting, or smoking oxycodone, which encourages the individual to take higher doses or switch up their methods of administration to feel the same effects. Because a developing drug tolerance tends to result in further drug-taking behavior, a drug use disorder is usually the outcome.
Smoking oxycodone in high doses and/or for long periods can also lead to some long-term damage. Some long-term side effects of smoking OxyContin include:
- Brain damage
- Chronic bronchitis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Heart failure
- Increased risk of overdose
- Lung and respiratory tissue damage
- Lung cancer
- Lung infections
- Severe constipation
- Severe nausea
- Substance use disorder
These side effects, in addition to behavioral changes such as doctor shopping, taking higher doses than prescribed, or stealing to buy more drugs, are all signs of a developing addiction to oxycodone. If you notice any of these effects in yourself or a loved one, don’t wait to get help.
Additional Dangers of Crushing and Smoking Pain Pills
Oxycodone is prescribed in both immediate-release (IR) and extended-release (ER or XR) formulas. The IR formulations kick in quickly and usually don’t last longer than about 4 hours, while the ER formulations are designed to slowly release the full dose over the course of several hours. OxyContin is an extended-release formulation, meaning that it affects and remains in the body much longer than the IR version of the drug.
Tampering with oxycodone ER formulations by crushing them up and snorting, injecting, or smoking increases your risk of overdose because it sends the drug into the brain more quickly and at higher doses than it’s meant to. Rather than allow the ER drug to slowly spread throughout the body, injecting, smoking, and snorting oxycodone can all release more of the drug at a faster rate, causing it to work more quickly and potently than it’s meant to.
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
People who abuse their prescription drugs – such as by changing their method of use – places them at a greater risk of overdose, dependence, opioid use disorder, and even death. If you or someone you care about is unable to control their use of opioids or is struggling with abuse, it’s time for a change.
Our Banyan Lake Worth rehab can help you overcome your dependence and treat your addiction to opioids. We know that stages of recovery, like withdrawal and cravings, can make treatment seem scary, but we guarantee your safety as you go through residential care at our facility.
In our opioid detox program, you’ll be taken care of round-the-clock and provided medication (as needed) to help you withdraw comfortably. Afterward, you can make a seamless transition into our residential treatment program, where you’ll work one-on-one with our therapists and have the opportunity to interact with others in group sessions.
For more information about our addiction treatment in Lake Worth and how we can help you get sober, call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches at 561-220-3981 or give us your contact information, and we’ll reach out to you.