Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone, a highly potent and addictive opioid painkiller. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, Opana slowly grew in popularity among drug abusers as a sufficient replacement for OxyContin. This was after OxyContin’s manufacturer announced plans to formulate a new and more tamper-resistant version of the drug. Soaring rates of doctor shopping, abuse and robberies related to Oxy use led medical professionals to be somewhat more cautious of how often they prescribed the drug. Opana stepped in as a substitute and has been gaining traction in the substance abuse community ever since.
Opana is one of many prescription opioid painkillers with a large following among substance abusers. Around 207 million prescriptions were filled for prescription opioid pain relievers in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This specific pain reliever is typically used to treat moderate to severe levels of pain; therefore, it is a stronger variety of opioid.
Reasons for drug abuse vary from genetic and environmental predisposal to emotional and mental instability and more. The majority of all addicts have more than one factor at play that influences their substance abuse. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports 90 percent of opioid abusers in one study reported using the drugs to alter their mood.
Who Abuses It?
Many who abuse Opana are former fans of OxyContin, which has become not only harder to obtain but more difficult to abuse, too. Some 1.9 million people were addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers like Opana in 2010, per NIDA.
Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse often starts early and many of America’s teens are becoming dependent upon these drugs. A survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 2014 notes past-year use of OxyContin shows a usage trend that may grow with age, with one percent of 8th graders, three percent of 10th graders, and 3.3 percent of 12th graders reporting use of the drug, per NIDA.
Young people aren’t the only population suffering from Opana dependence. The number of elderly adults who are abusing opioids is continually growing. Data from 2012 notes an average estimate of 336,000 senior citizens who are misusing or addicted to prescription pain relievers, USA Today reports.
Some people seem to believe having a chronic illness would make you more likely to pay a fair amount of attention to your health and less likely to be a drug abuser, but it’s far from the truth. In fact, many of the individuals who abuse prescription opioid painkillers started out with a simple prescription from their doctor to treat their relentless pain. They may be even more at risk of growing dependent on the drug due to the likelihood that they will use it for longer than they technically should. WebMD notes more than 100 million people suffer from chronic pain in America.
Others suffer from a different kind of pain. Those suffering from some type of mental illness make up a large portion of the US population at 42.5 million, per the Huffington Post, and one-third of them are drug or alcohol abusers, the National Alliance for Mental Illness notes.
What Does Opana Addiction Look Like?
When you consider that everyone from teens to grandparents is using opioids, you might expect that addiction would look different in a 16-year-old teen than it does in a 75-year-old individual. However, the primary difference in abuse symptoms involves the presence of other substances in cases of poly-drug abuse. Most who abuse Opana will exhibit some of the following signs:
- Poor judgment
- Slowed breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
The consequences of abusing Opana can last far longer than most substance abusers expect. The Blood Journal notes that those who abuse Opana ER (extended release) as an IV drug are at risk of blood-born infections, such as hemolysis and thrombocytopenia. Medpage Today implies the ER reformulation may be to blame, citing only two occurrences of blood-born infections among Opana users in the four years preceding such, and 53 since — making up around five percent of all adverse outcomes of Opana abuse.
Immediate risks of abuse include respiratory depression that can lead to death. Opana’s growing popularity has caused a significant surge in adverse events resulting from use of the drug. In 2010, 4,599 people were treated in American emergency rooms for issues stemming from Opana use, and that number jumped drastically to 12,122 in 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control reports.
Where Can I Get Help?
Treating any addiction requires that the drug abuser stops abusing the drug and starts detoxing. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration accounted for 169,868 people being admitted to treatment facilities across the nation in 2012 for the abuse of non-heroin opioids. Many of them opted for a methadone or buprenorphine maintenance program. These long-term treatment options allow the drug abuser to switch out Opana for one of the two treatment drugs. Over the period of a year or longer, the addict will slowly detox without having to experience the uncomfortable side effects that would occur during withdrawal without medicated interventions.
Studies comparing the two treatment drugs support methadone as a leader in efficacy. Among 54 patients in one study, only 26 remained after six months — 13 taking methadone and 13 taking buprenorphine — and none of those taking methadone had relapsed, compared to five who had relapsed in the buprenorphine group, according to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.
That being said, there are downsides to using methadone. The cost of methadone treatment is generally higher, and it comes with constraints. Methadone maintenance programs are far less flexible, because they require that patients visit a clinic or physician’s office daily for their doses. Buprenorphine can be taken home like a traditional prescription.
Regardless of which treatment module you choose, therapy and support groups are advisable in tandem with detox care, overseen by consulting physicians. The first step to getting help is accepting that you need it. You’ve come this far; take the next step and call us today to learn more about how you can overcome Opana abuse and addiction.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.