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Opana Abuse Symptoms, Side Effects, and Addiction Treatment

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What Is Opana Used For?

Opana is the trade name for the prescription medication oxymorphone—a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller.

In various formulations, oxymorphone has been available on the U.S. pharmaceutical market since 1959. In 2006, the FDA approved two new formulations of this powerful painkiller: Opana (immediate-release) and Opana ER (extended-release)

Though it is a potent and effective opioid analgesic, Opana may be intentionally misused and taken recreationally by those seeking a powerful high. People who use Opana report feelings of euphoria and relaxation, in addition to an overall decrease in pain. The drug is classified as a Schedule II substance, meaning it carries a high potential for abuse and dependence. Although Opana tablets are instructed to be taken orally, people abuse the drug in various ways, including via nasal insufflation (crushing and snorting) and needle injection. In December 2011, the FDA approved a reformulated version of the drug that was crush-resistant in an effort to curb abuse.

With chronic use of Opana, users may develop a tolerance to the drug—spurring a pattern of continuously taking more and more of it to experience the same effects. Like other Schedule II drugs, Opana carries a severe risk of psychological and/or physiological dependence and is considered dangerous when misused. If you or someone you love is abusing Opana, learn how to find help.

Street Names

Due to its potency, Opana is a highly sought-after opiate of abuse. It is sold under various street names, including:

  • Blue heaven.
  • Blues.
  • Mrs. O.
  • New blues.
  • Octagons.
  • Pink lady.

Signs and Symptoms of Opana Abuse

The most noticeable signs and symptoms of Opana abuse are:

  • Crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the dissolved form of the drug.
  • A strong desire to take the drug despite negative consequences.
  • Making using Opana a higher priority than attending to responsibilities such as family, friends, and work.
  • Claiming to have lost prescriptions.
  • Lying about having pain or exaggerating pain levels to get a prescription for Opana.

Opana abusers sometimes share pills with friends, buy the drug illegally, or engage in “doctor shopping” to obtain more of the drug.

Effects of Opana Abuse

Opana Abuse Treatment

Chronic use of Opana can lead to the development of tolerance and physical drug dependence. Those dependent on Opana will feel as if they require the drug to function normally and will indefinitely experience a characteristic set of opioid withdrawal symptoms any time use is abruptly ended. A number of factors will influence the exact nature of an Opana withdrawal syndrome, including the chronicity of the abuse, the amount recently used, and factors like physical and mental health status.

Opana withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety.
  • Restlessness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Sweating.
  • Chills.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Acute opioid withdrawal is often uncomfortable enough to trigger relapse in many people, so many recovering users prefer to detox under medical supervision so that professionals can handle any cravings, medical complications, or emotional distress that arises as a result of toxins leaving the body.

Post-Detox Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment post-detox may occur on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Inpatient facilities are the more structured option of the two. Outpatient programs allow you the flexibility to live at home and check in with a counselor at the facility on a daily basis. Each type of facility has pros and cons and it is important to choose the best program to fit your needs.

Residential treatment centers, also known as inpatient treatment, offer intensive, around-the-clock care. Individuals live at the facility for the duration of their treatment so that they can completely focus on their recovery. Inpatient facilities also offer programs to address underlying mental and behavioral issues related to addiction.

A typical day will look different based on which facility you enter and their corresponding treatment philosophy; however, an example day might include:

  • Group therapy—In group therapy, you will share your experience with others who are facing similar struggles as you. This type of therapy brings recovering individuals together under the guidance of a trained facilitator. In a group, people can express themselves while being received by others in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way.
  • Family therapy—A person’s behavior is difficult to separate from the context of family and other relationships, and family can play a significant role in the recovery process. Family therapy integrates family members into the rehabilitation process by keeping them informed of treatment goals and interventions, facilitating healthy communication between them and their loved one, and enabling them to play a significant role in their loved one’s sobriety after discharge.
  • Individual therapy—This is an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a counselor or therapist. Someone struggling with an Opana addiction may have a pattern of thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and/or co-occurring psychiatric disorders that contributes to their drug use. Individual therapy focuses on identifying these patterns to help users learn to work through them in a healthier way.
  • Additional therapeutic offerings—These may include education, healthy eating, meditation, etc.

Types of Treatment Programs

Inpatient programs provide a safe and sober living environment in which addicted individuals can find the space to heal.

Outpatient programs offer more flexibility. Individuals can attend to responsibilities at home or work and return to the facility for regularly scheduled treatment. Therapy is a major part of outpatient treatment, and you may participate in individual and group therapy to learn healthy ways to cope with stress and manage cravings.

The goal of treatment is for you to learn how to live without using drugs. You may attend support groups while in treatment, and this can be a healthy way to build a supportive community around you. Receiving and giving support to others who understand your experience and support your journey towards sober living can make a huge difference in treating your addiction over the long term. While receiving opioid addiction treatment at an outpatient facility, you may participate in:

  • Individual therapy sessions.
  • Group therapy sessions.
  • Educational talks about recovery and addiction.

Opana Statistics

The total number of prescriptions written for oxymorphone in 2007 was 268,000. That number jumped to 1.2 million in 2012. Opana was involved in 4,599 emergency room visits in 2010. By 2011, the number of visits climbed to 12,122, meaning there were 2.6 more times people seeking emergency care due to Opana just one year later (DEA, 2013).

Opana abuse via injectable routes is a growing concern. The risk of co-infection with hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS is high among users. The reformulated version of the drug can be dissolved in water and drawn up through a syringe, and needle sharing is all-too-common among injection users. The number of injections a person may take in a day typically ranges from 4 to 15, with the number of injection partners ranging from one to six (Conrad, 2015). Injection-drug use is risky, no matter the drug of choice. In January 2015, over 150 cases of HIV infection occurred among people who were sharing needles, syringes, and injection equipment to take Opana. Additionally, studies have also found that Opana use by injection can lead to blood clotting and permanent organ damage (FDA, 2012).

The use of prescription opioids such as Opana is increasing among pregnant women—whether they are taken to help manage pain or due to drug dependency. The prolonged use of Opana can put a child at risk of developing a number of birth complications, including neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS occurs in 55-94% of newborns who are exposed to opioids in utero and can cause infants to experience withdrawal after birth (Kraft, et al., 2008).

Teen Opana Abuse

Man feeling restless in bed

In 2015, roughly 5% of high school seniors reported using opioid painkillers such as Opana for non-medical reasons (NIH, 2015). Teen prescription painkiller abuse is extremely risky and puts them at risk for future heroin use. In fact, according to statistics from the CDC, past prescription opioid addiction makes you 40 times more likely to develop a heroin dependence.

Painkiller abuse also poses other dangers, such as that of fatal overdose, and male teens may be especially at risk. Studies found that males aged 15-24 are almost 4 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than their female counterparts (Calcaterra, Glanz, & Binswanger, 2013).

Overdosing on Opana can lead to death. It is important to talk to your teenager about the dangers of drug use if you suspect that they have a problem. Try to have an open conversation with your teen about the risks of opioid abuse.

Find Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is struggling with problematic Opana use, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start anyone battling addiction on the path to a happier and healthier life. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for rehab centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. To learn about opioid addiction treatment options with AAC, please contact one of our caring admissions navigators free at . There are also free opioid hotline numbers you can call.

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