Opana (Oxymorphone) Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
Opana is the brand name of oxymorphone; an opioid analgesic used to treat and prevent pain. It falls in the same class as narcotics or opiate analgesics like Roxicodone. The main use of this drug is for treating chronic pain from illnesses, such as cancer, but it can also be used with anesthesia during surgery.
According to the DEA, opioid addiction caused 20,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016, with drugs such as Opana accounting for four out of seven top prescription drugs distributed at the retail level nationally. It is usually sold in the form of Opana (oxymorphone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets. (1) In 2017, the DEA report indicated more than 14 million retail purchases of opioids in the U.S. (2) (3)
Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared it a controlled substance, addiction to opioids such as Opana is widespread. This creates a need for effective Opana detox and treatment.
Learn more about Opana addiction, and how to seek the help you may need with Opana use disorder treatment.
Opana (Oxymorphone) Addiction
Opioid drugs are most likely to be abused in the United States. In a 2014 report, the National Survey on Drug and Health (NSDUH) reported that nearly 4.3 million Americans were abusing Opana and other prescription drugs by taking frequent and higher doses. (4)
Opioids like Opana are highly addictive because they can provide pain relief and induce a desirable sense of relaxation and euphoria. Regular drug use, even with a doctor’s prescription, often results in dependency and addiction, affecting the overall functioning of the central nervous system. (5)
In 2017, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) asked Endo, the manufacturer of Opana, to withdraw its abuse-deterrent extended-release formulation from the market because of what CNN called “the likelihood of being abused.” (6)
The main reason being a significant shift in the route of abuse of Opana ER from nasal administration to injection after the product’s reformulation, even leading to a severe Hepatitis and HIV outbreak. (6) (7)
That year, there were nearly 200 million opioid prescriptions, two million opioid abusers, and 48,000 opioid overdoses in the U.S. alone.
Physical Symptoms of Opana Addiction
When addicted to Opana, individuals find it challenging to control drug usage, meaning they cannot regulate the dosage, frequency, and length of use. Even though they try, they cannot stop using Opana.
According to WebMD, most Opana addicts exhibit symptoms similar to those of alcoholism, which include: (8)
- Slurred speech
- Staggering or falling
- Poor choices
- Risky sexual behavior
- Slowed reflexes
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Mood swings
- Poor eating habits
- Impaired motor coordination
- Short-term memory lapse
Psychological and Social Symptoms of Opana Addiction
Once a person becomes addicted to Opana, they experience effects beyond the physical symptoms discussed above. One of the likely effects of Opana addiction is retreating and withdrawal from family and friends. (9)
By seeking to remain secretive, they stop joining formerly important activities, reduce their social circles, and spend most of their time looking, using, and recovering from Opana.
Opana users end up with severe social and psychological symptoms, which include:
- A compulsion to get and use more and more doses of Opana.
- Issues in one’s relationships and performance at work.
- Loss of confidence in personal values and integrity as the addiction escalates.
- Struggling with irritability, anxiety, and general nervousness.
- Exposure to the risk of legal trouble, injury, and accidents.
- Engaging in questionable or illegal activities to finance the Opana addiction.
Opana Withdrawal Symptoms
Opana addiction often results in physical dependence and the need for larger doses to achieve a high. Without the drug, it becomes impossible for addicts to function normally. Whenever they stay for at least 14 hours before taking the drug, Opana addicts suffer from opioid withdrawal symptoms. (10)
Some symptoms of Opana addiction include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Runny nose
- Severe pain in joints and muscles
- Dilated pupils
What Is Opana?
Opana, a brand name for the generic drug oxymorphone, belongs to the opioid class of medications and is prescribed for the management of severe pain. (11) As a potent analgesic, Opana works by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, effectively altering how the body perceives and responds to pain.
Due to its strength, Opana is typically reserved for individuals with chronic pain who require around-the-clock pain relief and have not responded well to other less potent pain medications. While effective in pain management, Opana carries the risk of misuse, dependence, and addiction, necessitating careful medical supervision and adherence to prescribed guidelines for its use. (11)
Understanding the nature of Opana and its potential risks is important for both healthcare providers and patients to ensure responsible and safe usage in pain management.
Opioid Abuse Signs
Recognizing the signs of opioid abuse is essential for identifying and addressing substance use disorders promptly. (5) From physical symptoms to behavioral and psychological changes, understanding the varied indicators helps individuals, families, and communities take proactive steps toward intervention and support.
- Constricted Pupils: Opioid use often leads to pinpoint or constricted pupils, even in well-lit environments. This physiological response is a common indicator of opioid influence on the nervous system, affecting the muscles in the eye.
- Drowsiness or Sedation: Excessive drowsiness, nodding off, or appearing unusually sedated may indicate opioid influence on the central nervous system. Opioids have a calming effect, causing individuals to feel excessively sleepy or even fall asleep unexpectedly.
- Slurred Speech: Opioid abuse can affect speech patterns, causing slurring or difficulty articulating words. This is a result of the depressant effects of opioids on the brain, impacting motor functions and coordination.
- Itching or Scratching: Persistent itching or scratching, especially without an apparent cause, can be a sign of opioid use. Opioids can release histamines, leading to itching sensations and skin irritation.
- Social Withdrawal: Individuals may withdraw from social activities, isolating themselves from friends and family. This withdrawal is often driven by the desire to hide opioid use or avoid judgment from others.
- Poor Coordination: Opioids can impair coordination and motor skills, leading to clumsiness and unsteady movements. This lack of coordination may be observed in activities that require precise movements, such as walking or handling objects.
- Neglecting Responsibilities: A decline in fulfilling daily responsibilities at work, school, or home may signal opioid-related issues. Individuals struggling with opioid abuse may prioritize drug use over responsibilities, leading to neglect of tasks and obligations.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: Disrupted sleep, insomnia, or irregular sleep-wake cycles may be observed. Opioids can impact the sleep-wake cycle, causing disturbances in the normal patterns of rest and wakefulness.
- Euphoria or Dysphoria: Sudden mood swings, extreme euphoria, or conversely, deep dysphoria, may be indicative of opioid use. Opioids can elicit intense feelings of pleasure (euphoria) or profound sadness (dysphoria) as they affect neurotransmitter activity in the brain. (5)
- Anxiety or Irritability: Opioid abuse can contribute to heightened anxiety levels or increased irritability. Changes in neurotransmitter balance due to opioid use may lead to emotional instability and difficulty managing stress.
- Poor Decision-Making: Impaired judgment and poor decision-making may become apparent in various aspects of life. Opioids can affect cognitive functions, diminishing the ability to make sound decisions and assess risks accurately.
- Cognitive Impairment: Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, or cognitive deficits may be observed. Opioid use can impact cognitive functions, affecting attention, memory, and overall cognitive performance.
- Weight Changes: Opioid abuse can significantly impact an individual’s weight, leading to unexplained changes. Excessive opioid use may contribute to weight loss due to changes in metabolism, reduced appetite, or neglect of proper nutrition. Conversely, weight gain may occur if the opioids contribute to sedentary behavior and unhealthy eating patterns.
- Gastrointestinal Issues: Opioids commonly affect the digestive system, causing constipation as a prevalent side effect. The opioids’ impact on the gastrointestinal tract slows down bowel movements, leading to discomfort and irregularity. Managing these issues often requires attention to diet, hydration, and, in severe cases, medical interventions.
- Respiratory Changes: Severe opioid abuse can result in respiratory changes, including slowed breathing. Opioids depress the respiratory system, leading to a reduction in the rate of breathing. This can pose serious health risks and may require urgent medical attention to address respiratory distress.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene: Opioid abuse may contribute to a decline in personal care habits, with individuals showing a lack of interest in grooming and maintaining proper hygiene. This neglect can manifest as a disheveled appearance, unwashed clothing, and overall neglect of self-care routines.
- Track Marks: Individuals who inject opioids may develop visible track marks or puncture wounds at injection sites. These marks are often found on the arms but can appear in other accessible areas. Track marks serve as physical evidence of intravenous drug use and may indicate the presence of a substance use disorder.
Recognizing these signs requires careful observation and consideration of the individual’s overall well-being. Early identification of opioid abuse allows for timely intervention and support to address the underlying issues and promote recovery.
Range of Opana Abuse
Opana, also known by its generic name oxymorphone, is a prescription opioid medication primarily used to manage severe pain. However, like other opioids, Opana has the potential for abuse.
The range of Opana abuse encompasses various behaviors, from taking higher doses than prescribed to using it without a prescription altogether. Individuals may misuse Opana for its euphoric effects, seeking a sense of relaxation or escape from emotional distress.
Some may crush the medication for snorting or dissolve it for injection, intensifying its effects but also increasing the risk of adverse health consequences. The misuse of Opana poses serious health risks, including the potential for addiction, respiratory depression, and overdose, highlighting the importance of using this medication strictly under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Opana Addiction in the U.S.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), addiction to Opana is much like alcoholism, affecting young white males more than any other demographic. In 2014, the NSDUH reported that the individuals who mostly abuse opioid drugs are in the 18 to 25 age demographic.
Before the OxyContin (oxycodone) new formulation of 2010, abuse of Opana was not an issue in the U.S. because abusers preferred oxycodone. According to Reuters, individuals had to switch to Opana after the reformulation since it is one of the easiest opioids to alter into an easily abused form. (12)
In a 2013 petition to the FDA, Endo Pharmaceuticals sought to restrict the sale of generic oxymorphone and make Opana more difficult to abuse. The FDA declined to put safeguards on generic forms of Opana, making oxymorphoneabuse possible by altering it for inhalation or injection. (13)
The sudden cessation of Opana use after dependence causes the brain to work overtime to restore balance, leading to undesirable side effects. For many users, there is no option but to continue taking the drug to alleviate the side effects of withdrawal, resulting in compulsive drug abuse and addiction. (14)
Signs of Opana Overdose
Despite being a prescription drug, Opana is prone to overdose among its legal and illegal users. According to the CDC, opioid overdose causes approximately 40 deaths daily in the U.S., with at least half of the deaths involving Opana. (15)
According to Reuters, Opana is more potent per milligram than oxycodone (OxyContin). Individuals who take the drug for recreational purposes may gradually increase the dosage until they take too much of it. That may cause an overdose, which occurs when Opana overwhelms the system and proves hard to metabolize.
As a result, abusers may suffer from respiratory depression or the shutdown of vital systems like cardiovascular functions.
According to the DEA, the following are the symptoms of oxymorphone overdose:
- Chest pain
- Blue tinge to nails, lips, and skin
- Limp muscles
- Significant drowsiness
- Clammy or cold skin
- Irregular blood pressure, heart rate, or pulse
- Loss of consciousness and coma
- Slow breathing or trouble breathing
- Numbness in hands, feet, and other extremities
Usually, an overdose occurs when users alter Opana ER, crushing it to inject, smoke, or inhale it. That replaces its extended-release format with immediate-release, introducing the entire dosage into the bloodstream. The results can be life-threatening, including any of the above symptoms of Opana overdose.
Opana Addiction Treatment Options
The problematic nature of withdrawal symptoms makes it difficult to stop using Opana. Consequently, anyone attempting to stop using the drug without help is likely to relapse to end the withdrawal symptoms. While getting through the first day is possible, withdrawal symptoms usually worsen after the first or second day.
According to MedlinePlus, medical detox is the best way to treat Opana addiction. The addicted individual joins a safe, supportive healthcare provider where a medical team takes them through detox. (16)
Usually, the person switches from Opana to methadone, buprenorphine, or other medication to make it easier to go through the withdrawal phase. With time, the individual is weaned off the replacement medication until they are entirely free from opioids.
Becoming sober or overcoming withdrawal symptoms don’t indicate total recovery from Opana. The staff at a treatment center always seeks to address the psychological and social issues that led to the addiction to prevent a relapse. As a result, the recovering addict must learn to cope with the problems, such as physical or emotional pain, that led to Opana addiction.
The individualized treatment makes it possible to help each individual successfully recover from Opana addiction. That’s because each individual has a unique path to recovery, which makes it necessary to consider their needs when designing a treatment regimen.
Zinnia Health offers treatment options for Opana addiction including medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and aftercare.
Some factors to consider may include physical health, mental health, history of drug use, resolve to recover, and the type of family or support system. Freedom from Opana abuse is possible with individualized care and a holistic, strategic approach to recovery.
Even though highly addictive, it is possible to get Opana out of the system by joining a reputable substance abuse recovery center.