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Comparing the Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Opana Abuse

Prescription DrugsOpana is the brand name for oxymorphone, which is an opioid analgesic prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It is chemically similar to morphine, which makes it a choice drug to treat serious pain after surgery or due to illness or injury. Injectable and extended-release formulas of oxymorphone were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Opana brand name in 2006. However, that also means it has a high potential for addiction and abuse, which is why the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed Opana as a Schedule II medication.

People who struggle with Opana addiction often crush the pills and snort them, or mix them with water to inject. This almost instantly flushes the body with opioid drugs versus the wait required when the drugs are swallowed, as they move slowly through the digestive system. The manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, has attempted to create an “abuse-proof” version of the medication, but people continue to abuse the narcotic painkiller.

It is a relatively new prescription painkiller, so it is important to understand the side effects of abusing this drug. Both short-term and long-term side effects of Opana abuse are similar to those associated with other opioid drugs.

Short-Term Effects

Whether a person takes Opana as prescribed, or abuses the drug for recreational purposes, there are some short-term side effects of this drug that are similar to other opioid medications. These include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue or excessive sleepiness
  • Lightheadedness due to low blood pressure
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Difficulty falling sleep or changes to sleep patterns
  • Respiratory depression or slowed breathing
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, insomnia, sluggishness, and diarrhea

If a person is taking Opana as a prescription pain medication, it is important to inform the prescribing doctor about these side effects. If the person abuses Opana recreationally, or is struggling with an addiction to Opana, these side effects can get worse if the individual begins taking larger doses.

Long-Term Effects

If a person continues to abuse Opana, or begins to suffer from an addiction to this drug, the side effects listed above generally worsen over time and can even develop into serious physical damage. Some of the long-term side effects of Opana abuse include:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Weight loss due to stomach upset and appetite changes
  • Low heartbeat and low blood pressure
  • Brain damage due to lack of oxygen in the bloodstream from respiratory depression
  • Thyroid changes, which can change mood and weight
  • Addiction, physical dependence, and tolerance
  • Overdose from taking too much of the medication
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy
  • Memory loss or amnesia when ingesting large amounts of the medication
  • Increased risk of depression caused by opioid dependence
  • Liver damageDeath from Opana Overdose

Opana is a very potent painkiller, and attempts to bypass abuse-proofing efforts have contributed to a continuing rise in overdose deaths, particularly in the rural South. As the medication becomes more restricted, and both the pharmaceutical manufacturer and lawmakers attempt to find a way to prevent addiction to this medication, more people who began their struggle with narcotic addiction on Opana are moving to harder opioid drugs, including heroin.

Get Help

People who struggle with Opana addiction or abuse should get help as soon as possible. Medical detox is required for opioids, so withdrawal symptoms and other physical side effects can be mitigated. Once detox has successfully occurred, the treatment focus will turn to therapy. This will address the roots of the addictive behaviors, so clients can learn to successfully overcome their addiction issues.
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