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  • The prescription opioid analgesic oxymorphone is available in both immediate-release tablets (brand name Opana) or long-acting/extended-release tablets (Opana ER).

    In either form, oxymorphone hydrochloride is a powerful pain-relieving drug, approximately three times more potent than opiate morphine and stronger than hydrocodone and oxycodone, though less strong than hydromorphone. 

    While it is valuable as a treatment for severe pain, oxymorphone is frequently abused by individuals looking to get high, self-medicate against chronic pain, or prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms.

    Side-Effects Of Oxymorphone Abuse

    Oxymorphone is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

    When abused, often by crushing or grinding up the tablets to increase the rate and intensity of the effect, oxymorphone is known to cause a variety of effects in common with other opioid medications. 

    These serious side effects may include:

    • euphoria, a feeling of intense pleasure and well-being when the drug is taken in higher doses
    • sedation, a lowering of activity in the central nervous system that can leave you feeling relaxed and calm
    • intoxication, including lightheadedness, impaired coordination, slurred speech, and reduced inhibition, not dissimilar to alcohol intoxication
    • dry mouth
    • dizziness
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • constipation
    • sleep apnea, a condition of breathing problems while sleeping
    • muscle rigidity
    • hypotension, low blood pressure
    • myoclonus, a condition of sudden muscle spasms
    • hyperalgesia, a potential adverse effect that greatly increases your sensitivity to pain
    • immune system dysfunction, which can leave you at a greater risk of getting sick with less ability to recover afterwards
    • hormonal dysfunction, which can lower your sex drive and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence
    • dependence, a state of being physically or mentally reliant on oxymorphone or other opioids to feel and act normal
    • tolerance, a natural process in which the body becomes more and more used to opioids, reducing their effect at a given dose
    • addiction, involving cravings or compulsions to keep taking oxymorphone despite the drug’s negative effects

    Opioid Use Disorder

    Oxymorphone addiction, also known as oxymorphone use disorder, can take the pleasure out of work, hobbies, food, friends, or family. You may also have difficulty making decisions or feeling motivated to leave the house or do anything except take more painkillers.

    These negative effects occur because oxymorphone is an opioid agonist. When taken in high doses, the drug interacts with the opioid receptors in your nervous system and trips the brain’s reward pathway, refocusing your mind on drug use at the expense of anything else you value.

    Oxymorphone Withdrawal

    Oxymorphone use disorder is not the same as physical dependence, as a certain degree of dependence can develop even when the drug is used properly for a moderate to an extended period of time. 

    The risk of dependence is greatest, however, when the drug is misused for non-medical purposes.

    Once dependence forms you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking the drug or drop your dosage. Opioid withdrawal is informally referred to as “dope sickness” and, in the case of oxymorphone, generally begins about fourteen hours from the last dose.

    Symptoms of oxymorphone withdrawal can include:

    • agitation
    • anxiety
    • body aches
    • chills
    • depression
    • diarrhea
    • dilated pupils
    • high blood pressure
    • fast heartbeat
    • insomnia
    • irritability
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • night sweats
    • restlessness
    • runny nose
    • tremors
    • vomiting
    • yawning

    For those who have been abusing oxymorphone, these symptoms can be intense and often prompt individuals to relapse, continuing the cycle of drug abuse.

    Endo Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Opana, provide drug information and a medication guide that advises against stopping prescriptions cold-turkey. Instead, dosages should be slowly tapered down by healthcare providers until the drug can be discontinued safely.

    Medical detox programs are designed to help you manage withdrawal symptoms as the drug is fully processed out of your body.

    Oxymorphone Overdose

    An overdose occurs when you take enough of a drug to cause physical harm. And, given oxymorphone’s potency, overdoses on this drug can be life-threatening, especially if an excess dose stops your breathing through respiratory depression.

    Symptoms of oxymorphone overdose include:

    • blue tinted skin, lips, or nails
    • dizziness
    • tiny or pinpoint pupils
    • significant drowsiness, tiredness, or sleepiness
    • irregular heart rate, pulse, and/or blood pressure
    • chest pain
    • cold clammy skin
    • limp muscles
    • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
    • stopped, slow, or shallow breathing
    • loss of consciousness or coma

    Overdoses are even more likely when opioid-like oxymorphone is combined with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Even the use of any other recreational drugs can also cause drug interactions and complicate the situation.

    If you suspect someone near you has overdosed on prescription drugs, contact emergency medical care as quickly as possible and administer the over-the-counter opioid antidote naloxone (Narcan) if it is available.

    Treating Opana Addiction

    If you or a loved one suffer from pain medication abuse or dependence, Ark Behavioral Health can help. Our professional treatment centers provide personalized medical detox and recovery services including buprenorphine treatment.

    To learn more, please reach out to us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Regulatory History of Opana ER
    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Prescription Opioids DrugFacts
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Oxymorphone
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 18, 2022
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