As yet another drug on the prescription opioid chain, Opana abuse can be just as addictive and deadly as other opioids such as Oxycontin and heroin. If you are wondering if your loved one is abusing or becoming addicted to their Opana medication, there are some telltale signs to watch out for.
What is Opana
Chemically similar to morphine, Opana is the brand name for Oxymorphone. The drug is an analgesic that was created to treat moderate to severe pain, with the intention of being prescribed for patients who suffered from chronic illnesses such as cancer or MS, or for people with chronic pain due to accidents, surgeries, neurological dysfunctions, etc.
In 2006, the Endo Pharmaceuticals company (which is currently being sued by dozens of states around the US) came out with an Extended Release form of Opana, which made it easier for injection. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has labeled Opana as a Schedule II medication, meaning it falls in the same category as other drugs such as:
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Ritalin and Adderall
How is Opana Abused?
Just like with any other pill form opiate drug, there are a variety of ways in which a user can abuse the medication. The original intention of the manufacturers was for the pills to be swallowed, however, this process can often take a long time to filter through the blood system, and doesn’t deliver the same high as it would in these other ways.
Commonly, abusers will break the pills down, mix them with water, and inject them into the bloodstream, delivering a fast and extremely potent high.
Users can also crush them and snort the pills to go directly to the brain.
The Endo Pharmaceutical company tried to eradicate users ability to snort them by coming out with an “abuse-proof” version of the pill, however, it was discovered that abuse could still take place with that form of the medication.
The Dangers of Opana Abuse
According to the Endo Pharmaceutical company themselves, the warning written on the box describes addiction, abuse, life threatening respiratory depression, neonatal opioid withdrawal potential, and dangers when combined with benzodiazepines.
The warning also clearly states that Opana injections are so strong that they are intended for use in patients for pre and post operations, and only then for people who have a high tolerance for opioid medications and require additional analgesic to curb the pain.
Some of the warnings listed on the box are:
- Life threatening respiratory depression
- Anaphylaxis, Angioedema (swelling of the dermis)
- Adrenal Insufficiency (where your glands stop making vital hormones)
- Severely Low blood pressure
These warnings are all listed on the box of medication that is INTENDED to be used to medical professionals, and they still present a large list of warnings. The dangers are only increased when a user takes the drug recreationally and without doctors orders, as there can often be hidden dangers when the drug is mixed with any other drug or alcohol.
There have been several cases of death as a result from Opana misuse and abuse, as the medication is so extremely potent. People who use the medication frequently often end up overdosing when they try to take additional pills to achieve any sort of effect. Many people have died as a result of respiratory failure or stroke when they mixed the Opana drug with another benzodiazepine, alcohol, or other pain killers.
Short-Term Side Effects to Look For
Side effects can occur in both persons who are prescribed Opana for a pain reliever, and for people who are recreationally using the drug. Some of the short term side effects can come from even a single use of the drug. Here is what to look out for in yourself or a loved one:
- Nausea, vomiting, or dry heaving
- Loss of Appetite
- Extreme Fatigue
- Dizziness and loss of coordination
- Dry mouth
- Slowed Breathing or difficulty breathing
Long-Term Effects to Look For
Primarily, opana abuse can begin to happen anywhere from 2 weeks after initial use, and side effects will vary depending on how much and how often the person takes the drug. If you or your loved one take Opana frequently, these side effects can occur much more often. Watch out for:
- Chronic constipation
- Weight loss
- Thyroid changes
- Muscle weakness or atrophy
- Liver Damage
- Memory Loss due to lack of oxygen from slowed breathing
- Withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken
Since Opana is such a potent opioid medication, many people find they become addicted very rapidly. With the manufacturers measures to make the pill “un-abusable”, many people have resorted to alternate measures in order to satiate their opioid addiction. This could be either through doctor shopping, or buying the medication illegally, to avoid health care costs and being cut off from their doctor.
This is often one of the most common reasons why many people who become hooked on opioid medications eventually move to more affordable options such as heroin.
Recovering from Opana Addiction
While many people who receive pain medications such as Opana as a prescription from a doctor never intend to become addicted to it, the chemical way in which it interacts with the body often has people physically hooked before they are even aware. This is why there are so many more people struggling with opioid addiction over the last ten years.
Recovering from an addiction to Opana or any other opioid medication is possible, whether you became addicted through a prescription or through recreational use. There are thousands of treatment options available for people all over the country who struggle with opioid medications and want to get their life back on track.
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