Everything You Need to Know About Oxymorphone Hydrochloride Addiction Treatment

By The Fix staff 08/07/19

Read our treatment guide to find help for oxymorphone hydrochloride addiction.

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Table of Contents

1. What Is Oxymorphone Hydrochloride and How is it Used?
2. Development of Opana Dependence
3. The First Step Back From Addiction
4. Outpatient Vs. Inpatient Care
5. Effective Opana Care Plans
6. Identify the Best Oxymorphone Programs

Suffering from the addicted use of oxymorphone hydrochloride? Let this article serve as the beginning of your journey toward a sustainable recovery. With the right information in hand, you can wade through a sea of rehab treatment choices and find something that fits your unique circumstances. In this way, you can increase your odds for success. And you can increase those odds even further by finding a rehab that excels in all areas and provides the most effective care possible.

What Is Oxymorphone Hydrochloride and How is it Used?

Oxymorphone hydrochloride (oxymorphone HCL) is the generic name of a prescription opioid (or opiate) painkiller called Opana. The same opiate also goes by names that include oxymorphone and 14-hydroxydihydroymorphinone. The manufacturer of Opana also once sold a related product called Opana ER. However, Opana ER and similar ER oxymorphone products are no longer on the market in the U.S. In the 2010s, the use of oxymorphone hydrochloride has become increasingly widespread.

Opana comes in the form of a tablet and is available in a range of dose strengths. Doctors use it to treat moderate to severe pain symptoms. However, to receive it, you must have failed to gain adequate relief from other, less powerful medications. Like oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine and other opioid medications, oxymorphone hydrochloride produces its pain-relieving benefits by altering normal function in your brain and spinal cord (i.e., your CNS or central nervous system). Specifically, opiates change the way signals from your body’s pain receptors are interpreted by your CNS.

Oxymorphone, morphine, oxycodone and other opiates also have additional effects. First, they reduce the speed of communication between your nerve cells and slow your system down. Any substance capable of having this effect is known as a CNS depressant. The slowdown in your nervous system creates a sense of sedation. At the same time, it decreases normal function in your respiratory and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) systems. In addition, opioids trigger a large increase in your brain’s output of its pleasure-producing chemicals.

Opioids are more formally known as opioid or opiate agonists. Opana, OxyContin, morphine and a variety of other powerful opioid agonists belong to a group of controlled substances that the federal government designates as Schedule II. All substances in this category have a legitimate medical purpose. However, they also carry a major potential for harm in the form of substance abuse and addictive patterns of intake.

Schedule II medications also share the ability to depress your CNS so far that it can fail to keep up an adequate level of activity. This kind of problem usually happens in people who consume excessive amounts of medication.

Even when used in prescribed amounts, oxymorphone hydrochloride can produce notable side effects. Some of these side effects are only serious when they impact you severely or linger instead of disappearing. Others are always viewed as serious and call for immediate notification of your doctor.

Symptoms/side effects that only raise concern when severe or lingering include skin flushing, heavy sweating, headaches, a rapid heartbeat, confusion, anxiety, gas and swelling or pain in your stomach. Symptoms/side effects always classified as serious include an irregular heartbeat, fainting, intense sleepiness, changes in your normal sexual performance and any indication of an allergic reaction (e.g., hives, rash or facial swelling). Women who take the medication on a regular basis during pregnancy may give birth to children who develop severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

Besides Opana and discontinued Opana ER, no brand-name medications on the U.S. market contain oxymorphone hydrochloride as their active ingredient. However, generic forms of the opiate are readily available. Whether generic or branded, oxymorphone has a number of known slang terms or street names among illicit users. Examples of these names include:

  • Mrs. O
  • Blues
  • New Blues
  • Pink
  • Pink O
  • The O Bomb
  • Pink Lady
  • Pink Heaven
  • Blue Heaven
  • OM
  • Oranges
  • Octagons
  • Stop Signs

The Potential for Overdose

Like other Schedule II opioid agonists, oxymorphone can easily serve as the source of an unintentional or intentional prescription drug overdose. Slowed heart rate and slowed or labored breathing (i.e. respiratory depression) are two of the most common indicators of this serious medical emergency. Other symptoms you may experience include:

  • Complete loss of normal muscle tone
  • Changes in your normal pupil size (too wide or too narrow)
  • Significant blood pressure decreases
  • Extreme sleepiness that eventually leaves you in an unresponsive stupor
  • Unusually clammy skin
  • Unusually cold skin
  • Fingernails, lips or skin with a bluish tint
  • Loss of consciousness that may or may not lead to a coma
  • Cardiac arrest (full shutdown of your heart function)
  • Respiratory arrest (full shutdown of your lung function)

An overdose can potentially be triggered by even physician-approved use of oxymorphone. However, you stand a much higher chance of experiencing this life-threatening problem if you don’t follow your doctor’s orders or take the medication without a doctor’s knowledge. You can fail to follow the terms of your prescription by taking too much Opana in single doses or taking it too often. Some people increase their risks even further by combining these two types of medication misuse.

If you’re 66 years or older, you have higher overdose risks regardless of any other factors. The same fact holds true if you mix Opana with another CNS depressant like benzodiazepine or alcohol. The presence of specific health issues may also make and overdose scenario more likely to occur.

Development of Opana Dependence

If you take oxymorphone hydrochloride or any other opioid painkiller for more than a few days or weeks, you can develop a case of physical and psychological dependence. This is the term used to describe a chemical and physical change in your brain that makes you feel reliant on your medication to feel functional or “normal.”

The main indicator of a dependent state is the appearance of Opana withdrawal symptoms if your blood levels of the medication drop below your brain’s expectations. Think of these symptoms as an alarm bell sent by your brain to warn you that you haven’t fulfilled its now-established need for opioids.

Regardless of the medication or drug responsible for dependence, opiate withdrawal follows the same general course. When oxymorphone consumption first falls below expected levels, you can develop symptoms such as muscle aches, frequent or excessive yawning, sleeplessness, anxiousness and runny nose. When blood levels of the medication fall even further, additional symptoms begin to make themselves known. 

In addition to nausea and vomiting, potential problems at this stage include goose flesh, pupil dilation, diarrhea and cramps that affect your stomach or abdomen.

Because people addicted to opioids can also go through withdrawal, dependence on these substances is sometimes confused with addiction. However, there are clear differences between the two states. First, dependence is a medically manageable condition that affects a large percentage of people who take Opana and other opiates long-term. With proper oversight, it does not lead to notable life disruptions. In contrast, no one can “manage” the profound life dysfunction that tends to characterize addiction. The brain effects of opiate dependence and addiction also apparently differ. Specifically, dependence alters brain regions other than those altered by addiction.

Development of Opana Addiction

If not well-managed by a doctor, oxymorphone dependence can set the stage for addiction, even if you don’t abuse your medication. Despite this fact, most cases of oxymorphone addiction develop as a result of some type of abuse. The abuse category includes any form of excessive intake that occurs among people who hold legitimate Opana prescriptions. It also includes any level of intake by someone who hasn’t received official permission from a doctor.

Possible Problems in Affected Users

Serious, non-addicted oxymorphone abuse and oxymorphone addiction are not treated as separate issues by doctors and public health experts. Instead, they’re viewed as connected — and often overlapping — problems. Together, these problems fall under the common framework of a single disease called opioid use disorder (OUD). If you’re not addicted, but still abuse Opana, your OUD symptoms may include:

  • Keeping up a pattern of Opana abuse or oxymorphone abuse even if you realize that it damages or interferes with your main relationships
  • Keeping up a level of Opana abuse or oxymorphone abuse that degrades your ability to meet commitments in any key area of your daily life
  • Consuming Opana repeatedly in situations where its effects can lead to injuries in others or in yourself

If you’re addicted to oxymorphone HCL, your OUD symptoms may include:

  • Intense urges for the medication when you’re not actively using it
  • A habitual tendency to abuse Opana
  • Rising tolerance that leads to increasing levels of consumption in order to feel the medication’s expected effects
  • A repeated inability to set limits on the amount of medication that you habitually consume
  • A pattern of intake that you can’t change despite knowing that it causes you to suffer mentally or physically
  • Opana withdrawal symptoms like those associated with dependent, non-addicted oxymorphone consumption
  • The establishment of a lifestyle that’s geared toward supporting your Opana abuse (including the need for recovery time after bouts of excessive intake)

As the definition of OUD indicates, you may experience a mixture of problems related to both Opana addiction and non-addicted oxymorphone abuse. On the other hand, you may experience problems that only fall into one of these two areas.

When assessing you for OUD, a doctor or addiction specialist will want to determine just how seriously you’ve been affected. The disease is considered mild if it only produces two or three symptoms in 12 months’ time. Four or five symptoms in the same timespan will result in a diagnosis of moderate opioid use disorder, while severe cases involve six or more symptoms.

The First Step Back From Addiction

No one can recover from an Opana addiction without going through an initial stage commonly known as detox. Detox gets its name because it’s a period of detoxification that allows the levels of an abused substance in your bloodstream to drop steadily over time. Simultaneously, the process serves as an endpoint for your addictive pattern of substance intake.

While you can go through detox without any professional assistance or oversight, no addiction specialist would ever recommend that you do so. Instead, all experts in the field ask you to seek help in the form of a supervised detoxification program. There are several underlying explanations for this strong, universal recommendation.

One of the biggest arguments in favor of seeking professional help is avoidance of the “cold turkey” approach to detox. This is a common nickname for the decision to bring your Opana/opioid consumption to a complete, abrupt halt. You should avoid going cold turkey for one simple reason: When you rapidly cut off your medication intake, you can go into withdrawal in just a few hours. Depending on the extent of your Opana addiction, this action may lead to overpowering withdrawal symptoms that push you beyond your ability to cope. And if this occurs, a relapse may be waiting right around the corner.

Depending on how far you progress in detox before abandoning your efforts, you may then have to deal with perhaps a greater threat to your health: an overdose. In fact, relapses are a notorious overdose risk for all people in opioid recovery. That’s true because detox will make you less tolerant to the effects of oxymorphone HCL and other related substances. In what is unfortunately a common scenario, your reduced tolerance can bring about a life-threatening toxic reaction if you try to consume the same amount of medication as you did before entering detox.

In a supervised and monitored medical environment, you can sidestep every one of these serious problems. Doctors and other support staff will not only provide protection by frequently assessing your condition; they will also be on-hand to tackle any unexpected health issues you may develop. And if you experience any severe Opana withdrawal symptoms, doctors can use a new medication, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to lower their intensity to a tolerable level. In case of a relapse, this same level of focused medical attention will help you reestablish your recovery and keep your overdose risks as low as possible.

In addition to strongly recommending that you enroll in supervised detox, all addiction 

experts recommend that all participants continue onward to enrollment in a substance treatment program. In this area, participation in supervised detoxification is also superior to any attempts to detox on your own. That’s true because supervised detoxification prepares you for follow-up treatment. Instead of entering a strange and unknown environment, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect as you take your next steps toward sobriety.

Outpatient Vs. Inpatient Care

The vast majority of people who enter rehab after stabilizing their condition in medical detox go straight to enrollment in an outpatient or inpatient treatment program. (People with severe health issues and/or severe Opana addiction symptoms may instead start this phase of recovery with a temporary hospitalization.) Since it’s a stay-at-home approach, outpatient care only requires you to make regular visits to the main facility. During those visits, you’ll get treated, undergo progress checks and receive any necessary updates to your existing care plan. Intended for certain mild cases of oxymorphone-related OUD, outpatient treatment maximizes your personal flexibility and scheduling.

Despite the conveniences provided by outpatient care, the most effective model for oxymorphone addiction treatment is generally inpatient care. Designed mainly for moderate and severe cases of OUD, inpatient rehab programs require you to begin living at a residential facility and remain there while you receive help. This increased level of oversight makes it easier to stay the course and avoid any setbacks in your developing recovery. It also makes it easier to get your rehab care plan updated when you make progress or your circumstances otherwise change.

If you’re affected by a major, concurrent (i.e., simultaneous) mental illness such as depression or a schizophrenic disorder, you may need to enroll in inpatient treatment even if you only have mild OUD symptoms. This recommendation is common, since mental illness complicates the steps needed to provide you with appropriate care. In addition, mildly affected individuals may choose inpatient care for a range of other reasons.

Effective Opana Care Plans

In the 21st century, there’s major consensus on the best methods of treating opioid use disorder. The proven model of treatment includes two, mutually supporting approaches: behavioral psychotherapy and medication. Each of these approaches delivers its own specific benefits to rehab program participants.

Behavioral therapy is the umbrella term for a diverse range of non-medication-based options that help you change how you think and act both during and after addiction treatment. In turn, these changes will help you establish and maintain a lifestyle built around long-term sobriety. Therapies known to produce results in Opana addiction recovery include:

  • 12-step facilitation
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Contingency management
  • Community reinforcement approach (CRA) plus vouchers
  • Family behavior therapy

When combined with other forms of treatment, 12-step facilitation increases the odds you will add enrollment in a self-help group to your recovery agenda. In turn, participation in this kind of group gives you a sobriety-promoting peer group and helps you steer clear of relapses. When used early on in treatment, motivational interviewing helps you resolve any internal conflicts that hold you back from full participation.

Contingency management and CRA plus vouchers have similar objectives. By giving you some kind of reward when you remain sober and meet other rehab program goals, they make it more likely you will make progress while undergoing treatment. Conducted with close family members in attendance, family behavior therapy helps you get at the roots of any issue in your home life that makes you more likely to abuse oxymorphone HCL.

Used separately, buprenorphine and methadone are the primary medication options for people with OUD. Like Opana itself, both of these medications are opioid agonists. However, in a structured treatment program, their use is both beneficial and proven not to get you “high” or support any further involvement in medication abuse. Methadone is more powerful than buprenorphine. Still, either option provides the same basic advantages, whether used short-term or as part of a long-term program of opioid maintenance.

Unlike the opioid agonists methadone and buprenorphine, the third medication option — naltrexone — is an opioid antagonist. This means that it fights against the presence of opiates in your body and brain, and stops you from experiencing the effects that often support oxymorphone hydrochloride addiction. As a rule, you won’t receive this medication unless no opioids remain in your system. This is a safety precaution that prevents the possibility of naltrexone triggering immediate Opana withdrawal symptoms.

Identify the Best Oxymorphone Programs

Given the extent of the opioid crisis taking place across America, it’s not surprising that a seemingly endless variety of rehab facilities offer treatment for people affected by OUD. On one level, this wide selection offers you plenty of choice, no matter the severity of your symptoms. However, on another level, the sheer abundance of rehab programs can make it difficult to find something that suits your specific needs.

You can cut through all of the clutter and find what you need if you focus on a few core points. First, any rehab program worth even minimal consideration must offer services that uphold the standard of care established by the nation’s leading experts. Whatever the precise details of your treatment, that standard always includes some mixture of therapy and medication. Be aware that not all rehab programs will meet even this basic requirement. In addition, many programs fail to hire licensed, accredited personnel who have first-hand expertise in administering appropriate care.

If you place a call to any of the rehab facilities on your short list of likely options, you should receive help in the form of clear information and prompt answers to your questions. Look for the same clarity and level of helpfulness on any websites that you examine. Whether you call or check on the web, you should hear or see some mention of a detailed intake assessment for all new patients enrolling in treatment. Such an assessment is vital to determining next steps in your care, and cannot be skipped or omitted.

If your personal circumstances permit, you can boost your odds at rehab treatment success by focusing on the top tier of opiate recovery programs. At this level of care, you can expect more than standard plans administered by skilled, experienced professionals. In addition to these essentials, look for holistic options that round out the main rehab program and help make sure you receive personalized, customized attention. Specific options available to you may include things such as advanced addiction therapies and art or movement therapy courses.

Wherever you decide to go for rehab treatment, just remember that the goal — freedom from a damaging, addictive lifestyle — never changes. With wise choices and hard work, recovery is surely within your grasp.

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