Opioid abuse is currently at epidemic proportions in the United States. According to a recent New York Times article, more than 60,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2016.1 A few years ago, OxyContin was the drug of choice for most people abusing opioids. But recently, another opioid has moved to the top of the list as a way to get high from prescription drugs. It’s called Opana, and it is an opioid analgesic used to manage pain that requires round-the-clock treatment.2 And like other opioids used for non-medical purposes, Opana comes with a number of dangers that can threaten mental and physical health.
Opana is a semi-synthetic opioid medication, much like OxyContin, Suboxone and Percocet. It is used for the management of moderate to severe pain after surgery, as the result of injury or for chronic pain-causing conditions that require round-the-clock management. As with any prescription medication, there are mild to moderate levels of risk associated with taking Opana. The most common side effects of Opana use include the following:
• Nausea and vomiting
More serious side effects of Opana can include:
• Difficulty breathing
• Fainting spells.3
Like other opioids, Opana (oxymorphon) connects to the brain’s opioid receptors changing the way the body perceives pain. It also produces feelings of euphoria in the user. These feelings of reward, relaxation, and comfort the opioid causes as well as the elimination of moderate to severe pain drives the abuse of prescription painkillers.
This abuse does not come without its consequences. Every day, says the Centers for Disease Control, 44 people die as a result of overdosing on their prescription medication, with many more developing an addiction.4
One of the first signs of a dependence on Opana is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped or the next dose is delayed. These symptoms can begin as soon as 24 hours after stopping the drug:
• muscle aches
• lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
• runny nose
• excessive sweating
• inability to sleep
• yawning very often
More intense symptoms begin after the first few days of stopping Opana, including:
• abdominal cramping
• goosebumps on the skin
• nausea and vomiting
• dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
• rapid heartbeat
• high blood pressure5
If someone overdoses on Opana, he or she is at risk for lowering his breathing rate so much that his body does not receive enough oxygen for proper brain functioning. This can result in coma, cardiac arrest and eventually death.
The problem of prescription drug addiction can cause a cascade of other problems. In 2015, a small city in Indiana experienced an HIV outbreak because people addicted to Opana were using dirty, discarded needles to shoot up. Within one week, 80 people had tested positive for HIV in an area where the general rate of HIV infections had been on the decline.
Speaking to the Washington Post, the only doctor in Indiana city confessed that the combination of drug use and infectious disease is a worst-case health care scenario. The problem is compounded by poverty, lack of infrastructure, lack of education, and the sheer abundance of prescription drugs like Opana.6
Indiana is not the only place where Opana abuse is spreading. In New Jersey, the local news reports that drug abusers in the Garden State are replacing their OxyContin addiction with Opana. The executive director of one the local chapters of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explains that the two drugs are similar, but Opana is twice as strong. One of the reasons users are moving away from OxyContin is because Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures the drug, changed its formula so that crushing OxyContin tablets, mixing the powder in liquid, and then injecting the solution into veins would not give the same high as it used to.
Opana and the FDA
Because of the danger of abuse and the current opioid epidemic sweeping the nation, the FDA, for the first time ever, has asked a drug company to remove Opana from the market. The FDA sighted their reason for the request was the belief that the benefits of using the drug no longer far outweighed the risks.8
In a recent press release from the FDA, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D said, “We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product’s risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse.”9 Recently, Endo Pharmaceuticals voluntarily agreed to remove the drug from the market after careful consideration of the evidence and the reasons behind the FDA’s request. Endo is currently working with the FDA on an orderly removal of the drug so that individuals using it for treatment purposes will have as little disruption as possible to their continuing care.10
Finding Help for Opana Addiction
Life with Opana addiction can be difficult and dangerous. Detoxification programs can help break the chains of physical dependence on the drug, while psychotherapy and counseling can help a patient overcome psychological dependence. Through a combination of medication, individual and group therapy, family therapy, and support groups the person struggling can find freedom from Opana addiction. And Black Bear Lodge is here to help. Call our toll-free number now at 706-914-2327 to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.
1 Katz, Josh. “Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 June 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
2 “Opana: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings.” Drugs.com, Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
3 “Opana Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing.” WebMD. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
4 “Opioid Overdose.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 Sept. 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
5 Case-Lo, Christine. “Withdrawing from Opiates and Opioids.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 26 July 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
6 Paquette, Danielle. “How an HIV outbreak hit rural Indiana — and why we should be paying attention.” The Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2015. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
7 Davidmatthau. “What is Opana? New Painkiller Gains in Popularity.” New Jersey 101.5, New Jersey News Radio, 12 July 2012. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
8 Office of the Commissioner. “Press Announcements – FDA requests removal of Opana ER for risks related to abuse.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Office of the Commissioner, 8 June 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
9 Office of the Commissioner. “Press Announcements – FDA requests removal of Opana ER for risks related to abuse.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Office of the Commissioner, 8 June 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.
10 MacMillan, Amanda. “The Opioid Opana ER Is Being Withdrawn From the Market.” Time, 7 July 2017. Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.