Oxycodone is a prescription painkiller that is highly addictive and has the potential to be abused. With prolonged use, a person’s body can get used to having oxycodone in it. As the body adjusts to the medication’s presence it will start to feel terrible without it. When oxycodone is not in a person’s system it can result in painful withdrawal symptoms.
Short-term effects of taking opioids like oxycodone are confusion, sleepiness, slowed, or even stopped breathing, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. The long-term effects of taking oxycodone include addiction, heart infections, muscle pain, lunch infections, and even psychological issues.
Oxycodone is an opioid painkiller that is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is categorized as a narcotic because it is known to be highly addictive. Oxycodone abuse can result in drowsiness, mental confusion, memory loss, lethargy, euphoric feelings, mood swings, depression, withdrawal, dependence, addiction, and overdose.
Oxycodone effects on the brain are numerous. Oxycodone abuse can result in hypoxia which is when not enough oxygen reaches the brain. This can result in long-term and short-term psychological and neurological issues. Abusing prescription opioids can be dangerous because of the long-term impact opioids can have on the brain even after a person withdraws.
Can My Brain Heal after Oxycodone Use
Once a person is able to evacuate the oxycodone from their system their brain is slowly able to start the healing processes. There are two medications that are commonly used to help a person get off oxycodone. These include methadone and buprenorphine. These medications decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. They act on the same receptors in the brain that oxycodone does except they do not make a person feel high or experience pleasure. These medications restore balance to the parts of the brain that are affected by addiction. This enables the brain to heal while a person works towards long-term recovery.
What Does Oxycodone Do to the Brain
Oxycodone abuse results in many changes to the brain. Oxycodone triggers the brain to block pain receptors and release dopamine, which makes a person feel high. When the brain’s reward system encounters oxycodone it produces signals to release dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and makes a person feel high. Over time, a person’s brain will stop producing dopamine in response to eating and other normally pleasurable activities and will solely rely on oxycodone to trigger the dopamine release.
How does oxycodone affect the brain? Oxycodone brain damage is one harsh outcome of abusing oxycodone. According to BMC Neuroscience, chronic use of oxycodone changes the white matter of the brain and inhibits cell growth. The white matter of the brain is the tissue that is composed of nerve fibers. The fibers are called axons and the connect nerve cells which are covered by myelin (a form of fat), which gives white matter its color. Specifically chronic opioid use results in issues with neuron communication in the central nervous system (deformation of axonal tracks), reduction in the size of nerve cells (reduction in the size of axonal fascicles), loss of an abundant protein in the central nervous system that works to maintain the correct structure of white matter (loss of myelin basic protein), and too much of the membrane that is responsible for neural growth and repair in the brain (accumulation of amyloid precursor protein beta).
All of these changes in the brain can result in long-term changes to the brain. According to Pain Medicine, long-term use of opioids can result in serious changes to a person’s brain resulting in long-term anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Prolonged opioid abuse can alter the brain so much that it can cause a person to experience hallucinations and other psychiatric disorders such as paranoia and delusions. A review of the literature published in Anesthesia and Analgesia Journal mentioned that there have been numerous reports of visual and auditory hallucinations being caused by opioids. One study mentioned that of the 12,184 patients who received opioids between 1985 to 2013, 482 patients reported experiencing hallucinations.
Treatment Can Repair Brain Damage from Oxycodone Abuse
The body is incredible and can repair itself once oxycodone is removed from its system. Brain healing after opiate addiction is a real thing. A rehabilitation clinic can help a person get on the right track to recovery by providing medical and mental health assistance when detoxing from oxycodone.
As mentioned earlier, the two medications methadone and buprenorphine are used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications are not as harsh as oxycodone and enable the brain to regenerate damaged cells. The medication naltrexone can also be used after a person detoxes to prevent cravings and relapse. These medications give the brain time to heal from the harsh effects of oxycodone.
Behavioral therapies help people to modify their attitudes and behaviors related to oxycodone use. They are also used in treatment to increase healthy life skills and help a person stick with taking the medications in their treatment plan. Behavioral therapy when combined with medications results in the best treatment outcomes.
Addiction has a chronic relapsing nature. Painful withdrawal symptoms can trigger a relapse. Even after being drug-free for many months a person can relapse because of the changes the drug made in the brain. Therefore, treatment needs to be a life-long commitment. Using the medication naltrexone as well as gaining support from peer support programs such as Narcotics Anonymous can greatly increase a person’s chances of experiencing life-long abstinence.
Help for Oxycodone Addiction
The impact oxycodone has on a person’s brain is extensive. The only way to allow your body to start to heal is through getting off oxycodone. If you or someone you love is suffering from an oxycodone addiction, finding a high-quality rehab can provide the tools necessary to help you or your loved one overcome an oxycodone addiction. Rehabilitation clinics combine behavioral therapy and medications to provide you with the best treatment to give your body the resources and time it needs to heal your brain and body.
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- Prescription opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- The neurobiology of opioid dependence: Implications for treatment. Science & Practice Perspective.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.