As the government has cracked down hard on opioid pain relievers like OxyContin in recent years, addicts, drug abusers and dealers alike have moved on to the next drug in line — Opana. The drug works by binding to specific opiate receptors in your brain — the mu-receptor primary, and also the delta receptor to an extent. Manipulation of the latter generally affects the operations of the former.
Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone, which is a semisynthetic opioid pain reliever. Developed in 1914 in Germany, the drug was patented by Endo Pharmaceuticals for the United States in 1955 and marketed by the end of the decade for moderate to severe pain management. It is marketed in both immediate and extended-release forms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that prescription pain medications now claim more lives every year than heroin and cocaine do combined.
Who’s Using It?
As with all opioid analgesics, the slope from use to misuse to dependency is a steep one with serious consequences. Misuse of prescription medications is growing among all age groups, but the elderly are at heightened risk. In fact, Medscape reports that 20 percent of the population aged 65 and older take prescription pain drugs several times every week, with 18 percent of chronic pain sufferers in the age group being addicted or abusing their medications.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, prescription drug abuse is more popular than ever among teens and adolescents, with the National Institute of Health noting a 12 percent rate of lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use among 10,904 college students surveyed, with seven percent reporting past-year use of the drug without a medical reason for it. When it comes to opioid painkillers specifically, over 12 million people are reportedly abusing them, per the Los Angeles Times.
Yet another category of pill abusers is the mentally ill. Frequently undiagnosed or going untreated, individuals suffering from mental illness will use prescription pain relievers like Opana to self-medicate and numb the distressing symptoms of their illness, which are often emotional and psychological in nature. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 53 percent of all drug addicts have one or more serious mental health disorders. Despite that, Opana is actually used to treat some patients who suffer from refractory major depression.
Opana is typically ingested via a tablet or in nasal spray form. Transdermal patches are currently being studied in clinical trials. A sister drug, named Numorphan, is available in liquid form that makes injection easy; it is also available as a suppository. Oxymorphone is around six to eight times stronger than morphine alone, per Opioids in Cancer Pain.
Unfortunately, prescription drugs are not hard to come by in this day and age. Many receive, buy, or even steal drugs from friends, family members or roommates who hold an Opana prescription. In 2013, approximately 207 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioid painkillers, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A lot of those who abuse the drug aren’t getting it illegally, despite how they’re using it. Many have their own prescription from a qualified doctor, and some even for legitimate health reasons. However, even when you’re in pain, overmedicating or using a pain medication outside of the need for pain is still drug abuse and misuse.
In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers of extended-release and long-acting forms of opioid pain relievers to perform post-market studies, in addition to requiring safety labeling changes. It is hoped that these efforts will aid in decreasing the large number of people misusing and abusing the drugs, although it is questionable why the ruling only applied to ER and LA variants of the drug class. The post-market studies will help to determine the severity of risks of misuse and abuse of the drug, as well as patient development of hypersensitivity to pain, dependency, overdose and fatality as a result of long-term use of opioid painkillers.
In addition, a new form of the extended-release version of Opana was proposed in 2013. It would come with deterrents in mind to make the drug harder for addicts to abuse by making the tablet difficult to crush. However, the FDA denied Endo Pharmaceutical’s proposal for replacement. Thus, the original form of the drug continues to be prescribed and used every day. The FDA cited a few reasons for their decision, including the ease with which the new formulation could be prepared for injection.
If you suspect that a loved one may be abusing Opana, or you’re struggling to put the drug down yourself, look for the presence of the following behaviors that signal addiction:
- Doctor shopping — seeking a prescription for the drug from multiple different physicians
- Using the drug to delay or altogether avoid symptoms of withdrawal
- Crushing the tablets prior to ingestion
- Opting out of activities you once enjoyed to use Opana instead
- Trying to supplement your cravings with drugs bought from street dealers
- Pretending to have pain in attempts to get a prescription for Opana
- An inability to maintain self-control when attempting to scale back or quit using the drug
- A growing preoccupation with securing and using your drug supply
Continued abuse of Opana will not lead you to a good place. Underlying mental health problems will only worsen the longer they’re left untreated. A study carried out by the National Institute on Mental Health points out the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, noting that sufferers of nearly every mental illness are guilty of delaying treatment for a significant period of time — an average of almost 10 years — beyond the onset of a mental health disorder. Additionally, the health risks posed by Opana include respiratory depression and cardiac arrest, which are both major contributors to death in many opioid painkiller overdose fatality cases. Users of these drugs often mix them with other depressants, such as alcohol, which seriously increases the likelihood of an adverse health event.
USA Today reported 1.3 million people were treated in America emergency rooms in 2010 for issues stemming from opioid pain relievers. One of the biggest concerns surrounding opioid painkillers is overdose. The CDC labels those with past substance abuse problems, low-income individuals, people living in rural areas, and those who doctor shop or take large amounts of prescription pain relievers every day as being at heightened risk for overdose. The CDC reports that 5.4 per 100,000 people in the United States died as a result of an opioid painkiller-related overdose in 2011. They go on to note that only 1.4 per 100,000 met their demise in 1999 for the same reason, showing a massive growth over the course of 12 years.
There is a concern that opioid prescription painkillers serve as gateway drugs to heroin. While there was actually a five percent decrease in opioid pain reliever overdose deaths from 2011 to 2012 — from 16,917 to 16,007 — the Modern Medicine Network reports a 35 percent escalation of heroin overdose deaths in the same timeframe, jumping from 4,397 to 5,927. A recent report by MedPageToday links those who inject the new abuse-deterrent formulation of extended-release Opana with an increased risk of developing thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disorder that carries the potential to cause organ damage via small blood clots dispersed throughout the body.
Here at Michael’s House, from the initial point of contact, we’ve got our sights set on getting to know you better. It is our goal to figure out how you ended up dependent on Opana first. From there, we can assess the presence of other factors that may have contributed to your addiction, like mental illness. When you’re admitted, you’ll be screened for other medical and mental health problems before entering a period of detoxification, overseen by consulting physicians. While withdrawing from Opana, you may experience excessive perspiration, achy joints, irritability, chills, anxiousness, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. Your detox experience will be supervised by medical staff around the clock and may include the administration of certain medications.
We do not promote the rapid detox process or provide it for our patients. Many programs that practice this method claim to advance the patient through the detox process in a quick manner by giving them large doses of opioid blockers while they are under general anesthesia. There is no evidence that points toward increased efficacy with the use of these programs, and they pose a whole host of additional side effects that can be quite threatening to the patient’s health and recovery.
Methadone is the most popular choice among opioid treatment facilities. According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the full opioid agonist treatment drug has touted success rates ranging from 60 to 90 percent. Buprenorphine is also commonly used in the treatment of opioid addictions, and it is a partial agonist, meaning there is a limit to how strongly a patient can feel its effects. This ceiling helps to prevent patients from growing dependent on buprenorphine or feeling a high from it.
Both drugs operate by inhibiting opiate receptors in the brain so that the patient doesn’t feel withdrawal effects. Buprenorphine also carries a smaller risk of dependency. Both medications are frequently prescribed to patients enrolled in opioid treatment programs, but a physician can prescribe them, also. However, there are legal restrictions on how many buprenorphine patients a physician may treat at one time.
Naloxone is most often used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and its success is worth praising. The city of Quincy, Massachusetts, has required patrol officers to carry the intranasal form of the drug — branded as Narcan — with them as of late 2010. As of mid-2013, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reported a 95 percent success rate. Nevertheless, naloxone has now found a new place alongside buprenorphine as the famed Suboxone — boasting an 88 percent success rate in initial studies, per The Fix.
While naltrexone is the most popular choice for rapid detox patients, it does have other uses in the treatment of opioid dependence, but thus far, studies have shown high dropout rates for treatment with the drug. The major downside to naltrexone is its inability to curb drug cravings. It is also available in an injectable extended-release form now that is given in monthly doses. Naltrexone is used more often in the treatment of alcoholism than opioid addiction.
While withdrawing from Opana, it is common to experience fight-or-flight symptoms like tunnel vision, trembling, rapid breathing and heart rate, hearing loss, and many more uncomfortable side effects. Some patients will benefit from a course of treatment with an opioid agonist accompanied by a blood pressure medication called clonidine, which serves to lessen these symptoms. Maintenance programs continue to give opioid addicts an optimal chance at a sustained long-term recovery from addiction.
No singular medication or combination of them will treat your addiction in totality. That’s why we provide you with access to world-renowned therapists who have years of experience in treating addiction patients like yourself. They’ll work with you and your supervising physician to form a treatment plan that meets your individual needs, from addressing compulsions and triggers that drive you to use, to mental health disturbances that have gone untreated and hindered your progress in overcoming this addiction on your own.
The American Psychological Association reported on one study in which 77 outpatients qualifying for substance dependence and reporting past-month substance use received individual and group drug counseling every week, with only a portion of them also being given access to computer-based training for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. At the eight-week mark, 53 percent of those receiving counseling only tested positive on a drug test, whereas only 34 percent of the CBT group did.
It’s not too late to make permanent changes in your life. You can still turn everything around. No patient or addiction is too far gone for Michael’s House to help. At our luxurious facility, you can find the peace and comfort you need to recover from an addiction to Opana. Pick up the phone and call today to talk with one of our admissions coordinators.