Roxicodone Addiction

Roxicodone is a powerful narcotic pain reliever that contains the opioid, oxycodone. Oxycodone is a schedule II narcotic, which means it carries a high potential for abuse and addiction. As a schedule II narcotic, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, does not allow refills; the patient must visit a doctor to get more Roxicodone. This measure aims to reduce Roxicodone abuse and addiction.

Addiction to opioids such as Roxicodone is a growing epidemic in the United States. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports the U.S. admission rate for opioids other than heroin skyrocketed by 414 percent between 1997 and 2007, from 7 people per 100,000 to 36 per 100,000. This rise in opioid abuse is due, in large part, to the fact that Americans take more of these painkillers than another other nation on earth. Even though Americans represent only about 5 percent of global population, they consume 80 percent of the world's supply of opioids, according to the Institute of Addiction Medicine.

Physical dependence to Roxicodone is not uncommon during sustained opioid therapy for chronic medical conditions. Significant dependence should not develop in patients taking the smallest doses for the shortest time possible but doctors expect a fraction of patients to develop tolerance, dependence or addiction to Roxicodone.

When a patient no longer needs Roxicodone, she should taper down by taking smaller doses further apart so that she does not experience withdrawal symptoms. In general, the individual should take 25 to 50 percent less Roxicodone each day as tolerated, until she no longer takes this opioid. If this slow titration does not break the binds of physical dependence to Roxicodone, the patient may develop an addiction to this medication.

Individuals that use high doses of this opioid, or use Roxicodone for a long time, are at greatest risk for developing an addiction, especially if they have used this opioid for non-medical purposes. To use a drug non-medically means to take the substance to get high or to treat a condition for which the medication was not prescribed.

Because Roxicodone is a prescription medication, many people mistakenly view it and other prescription opioids as harmless. Prescription medications do not carry the negative social stigma that other illicit opioids, such as heroin, do. It is common to hear of otherwise law-abiding citizens sharing prescription painkillers. The DEA warns about the practice of diversion, which means to use prescription drugs for illegal purposes. Hydrocodone is one of the most widely diverted substances in the United States today. In 2008, 13.8 million people aged 12 or older admitted to using oxycodone non-medically at least once in their lives.

The Definition of Addiction

The American Society of Addiction Medicine offers a detailed and complete definition of addiction. "Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry." This means that other conditions do not cause addiction; addiction arises on its own, independent of any other disease. Addiction is chronic, meaning that the individual will need long-term treatment for a complete recovery. Finally, but most importantly, addiction is a disease of the nervous system. Addiction changes the cells of the nervous system in a way that "rewires" a person's memories, his sense of reward and what motivates him.

The dysfunctions in the brain's circuits become apparent through to biological, psychological, social and spiritual changes as the individual begins to pursue Roxicodone over all other activities.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine goes on to say that addiction is "characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one's behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death."

Addiction versus Dependence

The public frequently uses the terms addiction and dependence interchangeably but these two conditions are separate and independent of one another.

The human body tolerates the presence of other substances by adjusting its own chemistry to achieve a comfortable balance. Sometimes the body develops tolerance, which means it takes more of the substance to achieve the intended effect. If taken long enough or in high doses, the body may even become dependent on Roxicodone to maintain chemical stability. If the level of opioid were to drop below a certain level, the body would struggle to maintain chemical balance; the individual would feel this battle in the form of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Taking a dose of Roxicodone will halt the withdrawal symptoms and the individual will feel "normal" again.

A doctor will diagnose a person as being physically dependent on opioids if the patient experiences flu-like withdrawal symptoms once the level of Roxicodone drops. The physician will say a person is addicted to opioids if the patient craves the drug and engages in "drug seeking" behaviors when he runs out of Roxicodone.

A person can be addicted to a substance without being dependent upon it, and vice versa. For example, a person may be dependent on an antihypertensive; her blood pressure will rise if she forgets a dose but she will not crave the medication. Conversely, an individual may crave cocaine once she runs out but she will not experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Addiction to Roxicodone or other opioids is a disease, not a personal choice or character flaw. A person does not choose the neurobiological disease of addiction any more than someone would opt for Parkinson's disease. Family members should know that the changes they see in their loved ones is a result of the disease of addiction, and that the individual needs their love and compassion now more than ever if meaningful recovery is to take place.

Family members should know that addiction to Roxicodone and other substances is a family affair. While researchers are still working to establish an exact cause, most medical scientists agree that genetics play a large role in who will suffer addiction. This means that everyone in the family is genetically pre-disposed to inheriting addictive tendencies.

Everyone in the household is subject to the same environmental stresses that increase the risk for addiction. Financial trouble, problems in interpersonal relationships or household stressors may contribute to drug abuse and addiction. Additionally, researchers believe that individuals who are hypersensitive to everyday stress are more likely to develop addictions; this hypersensitivity also passes from one generation to the next. Finally, many people abuse drugs because they have learned poor coping mechanisms from their parents. Children learn how to deal with everyday problems by watching their parents; children whose parents abuse drugs to cope with stress are more apt to do drugs when they get older.

Addiction affects and endangers the entire family. A parent addicted to Roxicodone spends an increasing amount of time seeking out and doing drugs and less time with her children. She also loses time at work, so her family has less money for groceries and other life necessities. Addiction affects the way a person behaves, thinks and feels, robbing her family members of the contributions she would otherwise make.

Addiction also causes collateral damage within a family. The addicted individual uses family funds on his drug habit. He also brings criminal activity into the home in the form of illicit drugs - it is illegal to take Roxicodone without a prescription. He may bring drug dealers and other unsavory criminals into the home, risking the safety of everyone in the house. Keeping illicit drugs in the home and associating with criminals increases the chances of home invasion and theft. It also raises his chances for arrest, subjecting the home to drug raids. His family must now pay legal fees, make up for lost work and suffer the social stigma of a family member in jail.

Addiction: What Parents Should Know

Parents should know that addiction to Roxicodone and other opioids is reaching epidemic proportions, especially among today's youth. Increasingly, non-medical use of prescription painkillers is replacing marijuana as the gateway to harder drugs. This is because painkillers are easy to get free from friends or family members.

Parents should know the warning signs of Roxicodone addiction and be able to tell the difference between addiction and normal developmental changes in their child. While most children will go through "phases" where they lose interest in childish pursuits and turn their attention to more mature activities, it is never normal for a child to crave drugs or spend his time seeking out opioids such as Roxicodone.

Parents should look for warning signs including:

  • Unusual loss of interest in things that once were important
  • Drop in academic performance
  • Loss of motivation or energy
  • Finds ways to sneak off
  • Money issues; oxycodone sells for about $1 per milligram on the streets, with the average dose of 40 mg per tablet.
  • Items missing from the home.

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

Addiction is a family affair, and every family member plays an important role in recovery. Like other illnesses, recovery from Roxicodone addiction requires a well thought-out care plan. Family members are the first line of defense against Roxicodone addiction, and the family is instrumental in developing a care plan for the addicted individual.

The family should meet regularly to discuss the care plan and each person's role in recovery. Each member of the family should voice his needs and concerns at these meetings, as every member of the family plays a vital role in recovery. During these meetings, each family member is assigned duties according to their age and ability. For example, grandparents can take over childcare responsibilities while the parent attends rehab; older siblings can run errands or perform light household duties such as cleaning or preparing simple meals.

The addicted person does not have to participate in these meetings; family members should talk about this disease even if the individual battling addiction absolutely forbids it. Addiction makes changes to the individual's brain that causes him to be very private and possessive about his disease; he may be unable to talk about addiction at first.

Addiction has a negative effect but recovery can have a positive effect on a family, as each member of the family discovers hidden talents and strengths. This newly-discovered attributes can offset the genetic and environmental stresses that increase the risk for developing addiction to Roxicodone and other opioids.

Family members play a critical role in recovery. In fact, family members usually find the perfect rehabilitation clinic that the addicted individual eventually attends. Every member of the family should encourage the addicted individual to seek and complete treatment.

Family members should know that they do not have to let a loved one hit rock bottom before effective recovery can take place. In fact, hitting rock bottom can make it even more difficult to overcome addiction. Addiction causes collateral damage and health hazards that can be avoided through early treatment.

It is possible to arrest the disease's progress at any time. Recovery often begins when the individual recognizes the problems addiction causes. A family member can examine how he may enable the addicted individual by preventing them from feeling the consequences of his action.

The treatment and recovery experience works best when the individual feels physically, emotionally and spiritually safe in his home environment. Family members should recognize addiction as a disease and avoid blaming the individual for his illness.

Signs of Addiction

Addiction causes alterations in the brain that manifest themselves through behavioral, cognitive and emotional changes. This means addiction to Roxicodone and other substances makes a person behave, think and feel differently than he did before he got ill.


A person addicted to Roxicodone will use this drug or engage in other addictive behaviors at higher frequencies or in quantities than she intends. She may even voice a desire to control her behavior even as she takes another Roxicodone tablet. She will try to quit several times, with varying levels of failure.

A person addicted to Roxicodone will lose hours, weeks and months looking for, abusing or recovering from Roxicodone use. This excessive engagement in drug abuse affects her social and occupational functioning to the point where her interpersonal or professional relationships suffer. She begins to neglect her responsibilities at home, on the job, at school or with her friends.

Addiction to Roxicodone will cause the individual to continue using this opioid, despite awareness of the physical, psychological, social and person harm it causes. She will begin to care less about those things she used to be passionate about; this indicates addiction has altered the reward circuit in her brain. She soon forgets about all things that used to bring her joy, such as her friends or family. The addicted individual will appear to lack the will or ability to quit using Roxicodone. She may try to quit several times and relapse to opioid abuse.


Addiction to Roxicodone and other opioids changes the way a person thinks. He becomes preoccupied with substance abuse. He begins to think Roxicodone is more beneficial than it actually is, and he may also ignore the risks associated with drug abuse. After a while, he will begin to blame other people or events for his problems, instead of realizing that his troubles are the predictable consequence of his drug abuse.


Roxicodone brings about emotional changes, including increased anxiety, dysphoria and emotional pain. Addiction makes an individual more sensitive to environmental stress, especially if the person is hypersensitive to stress to begin with. The addicted individual may complain that "things seem more stressful right now" and that they will quit when things calm down.

The addicted individual may have trouble identifying his feelings, or distinguishing his emotional reactions from bodily sensations. He may not be able to describe his feelings to other people, a condition psychologists call alexithymia.

Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction manifests itself in a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms may come about slowly or suddenly, as the addicted individual begins to shift his attention from reality to using drugs.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of drug addiction include:

  • Unexplained Weight Gain or Weight Loss
  • A Change in Sleep Patterns
  • Deteriorating Physical Appearance - Looks Sickly
  • Nagging Cough
  • Diminished Hygiene Care
  • Body or Clothing May Have an Unusual Odor
  • Bloodshot Eyes with Large or Small Pupils
  • Tremors
  • Slurred Speech

Psychological Symptoms

While physicians diagnose a person as being dependent upon Roxicodone if she experiences withdrawal symptoms when the level of opioids drop in her system, doctors identify addiction through psychological symptoms.

Psychological symptoms of addiction to opioids include:

  • Inability to Abstain Consistently.
  • Impairment in Behavioral Control.
  • Cravings for Drugs or Intense Reward Experiences.
  • Diminished Capacity to Recognize Significant Personal or Relationship Problems.
  • Dysfunctional Emotional Response.

Gender Differences

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, men were twice as likely to abuse or be dependent on illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or marijuana as women. This survey shows 5.9 percent of females admitted to using illicit drugs, as compared to 11.6 percent of males. Men and women take different paths to Roxicodone addiction. The two sexes tend to use different drugs, abuse them differently and respond to treatment differently.

While men abuse illegal drugs such cocaine or heroin more often, females use prescription drugs more frequently to get high or to treat a condition for which it was not prescribed. Females are also more likely to use prescription drugs like Roxicodone alongside alcohol, marijuana or other opioids.

Men abuse drugs differently than women do. Men tend to get high with other people while women abuse drugs by themselves. Women with substance abuse problems claim to have very few friends, as compared to addicted men who tend to have a large group of friends. The way the two genders abuse drugs such as Roxicodone might be because society is more tolerant of males with Roxicodone addiction than of females with the same problem.

Men and women start using drugs such as Roxicodone for different reasons. Males often start using drugs to get high while females start abusing drugs after using them to treat an illness. Some studies suggest physicians prescribe psychoactive drugs more frequently to female alcoholics than to male alcoholics because the healthcare providers the root cause of the woman's trouble to be depression, anxiety or some other emotional difficulty.

Cause of Gender Differences

Women with Roxicodone addiction or other substance abuse problems tend to have experienced difficult childhoods. Addicted women often come from families where one or more family members battled addiction. These women frequently say drug abuse was tolerated in the home when they were growing up. Many addicted women carried too much domestic responsibility as a child. These women also report a turbulent and dysfunctional childhood home environment

Addicted women often say a violent relationship or traumatic experience lead them to drug abuse and Roxicodone addiction. Women are more apt to say genetics, family history or environmental stress is responsible for their drug abuse problems.

Addicted females must address co-existing psychological problems such as a poor body image or eating disorders for recovery from Roxicodone addiction to be possible. Women with Roxicodone addiction report lower expectations for their lives and are more likely to have attempted suicide than are men. Addicted women tend to have less education, fewer marketable skills and less job experience than males.

Females seek out help more frequently than males do but females do not complete rehabilitation as often. Women face additional barriers to recovery, such as being able to afford quality treatment or finding childcare while the mother is in rehabilitation. Women with addictions are frequently in relationships with a partner who also has a substance abuse problem; overcoming Roxicodone addiction is more difficult when other members of the household are still engaging in drug abuse.

Treatment Options

Addiction to Roxicodone and other opioids cause an individual to withdraw and hide from those threatening to stand between an addicted person and his substance of choice; addiction is very personal disease. The first step is to separate the person from the drug, and this is usually an epic battle fought over and over again, as the individual tries to quit using opioids before succumbing to overpowering symptoms of withdrawal. Most people try to quit Roxicodone and other opioids several times before they enjoy a successful recovery.

The American Society of Addictive Medicine warns that addiction can cause "disability or premature death, especially when left untreated or treated inadequately." Without proper medical treatment, many people ride a dizzying and dangerous cycle between recoveries and relapse.

Research shows proper treatment consists of two phases: detoxification and rehabilitation. Detoxification is the process of lowering the level of opioids in the body. A person going through the detoxification process typically experiences five or more days of intense withdrawal symptoms as his body adjusts to the lack of opioids.

Rehabilitation addresses the cognitive and behavioral aspects of opioid addiction. This phase of treatment usually includes behavior modification and counseling to help the individual learn how to live without Roxicodone. Rehabilitation restores the wiring of the brain so that normal patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving return to the individual. Without behavioral modification techniques in rehabilitation treatment plans, the addicted individual never learns how to live without Roxicodone and frequently relapses to opioid abuse within days or weeks of detoxification.


Some people try self-detoxification to end an addiction to Roxicodone, in a procedure sometimes called "going cold turkey." Cold turkey refers to the cold, clammy, pale skin with goose bumps that addicted people experience as they go through detox.

Individuals who attempt self-detoxification experience the full brunt of withdrawal and are at increased risk for suffering complications associated with the flu-like symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms, known in the medical world as opiate abstinence syndrome, often come in two waves several hours after the last dose. Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Aches
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Watery Eyes
  • Yawning

Later, the individual will experience symptoms including:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Goose Bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The goal is to last five or more days, with the worst symptoms occurring on or about the fourth day. Overpowering physical and mental withdrawal symptoms drive many who try self-detoxification back to Roxicodone abuse.

Some individuals try self-detoxification techniques that include medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms. One such treatment is The Thomas Recipe, which calls for a course of Xanax or other medication that reduces overwhelming anxiety and insomnia, along with a course of other medications to relieve diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches and lethargy.

Individuals who attempt self-detoxification are at greater risk for complications. One such complication is aspiration, where the patient vomits and then inhales stomach contents. Aspiration can lead to pneumonia and infection. Extreme nausea and vomiting, when left untreated, cause dangerous dehydration.

The primary complication from detoxification is relapse. Without professional assistance to ease withdrawal symptoms and address the underlying causes of addiction, many individuals return to Roxicodone abuse. Detoxification reduces the body's tolerance to opioids and therefore increases the risk for overdose. Because of reduced tolerance, a person who has recently attempted detoxification can overdose on a smaller dose of Roxicodone than they used to take.

Overdose is a potential fatal medical emergency that requires immediate, professional attention. Emergency department physicians will administer medications such as naloxone to reduce the level of opioids in the patient's body. Nurses will monitor the patient for complications and render appropriate care, such as starting IVs to counter dehydration. Once the patient's condition is stable, she may enter a rehabilitation program to address her addiction.

Some opioid-dependent individuals who are in otherwise stable condition may choose Drug Replacement Therapy, or DRT, in which they take medications such as methadone, Suboxone or buprenorphine. These drugs act similarly to opioids, so the patient does not experience abstinence syndrome, but DRT drugs do not cause euphoria - the patient does not get high on them. This allows patients to put off the detoxification stage and move directly to behavioral modification. After the patient learns how to live without Roxicodone, he weans himself from the replacement drug.

Supporters like DRT because patients continue to work and live at home during treatment, while opponents of DRT say it is merely trading one addiction for another. Harvard Medical School cites estimates that 25 percent of methadone DRT patients eventually abstain, another 25 percent continues to take the DRT drug and 50 percent go on and off methadone.

DRT is one type of Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT. Medications reduce the overpowering symptoms of withdrawal so that a patient may tolerate the process long enough to successfully detoxify his body. Rehabilitation professionals say that MAT:

  • Improves Survival
  • Increase Retention in Treatment
  • Decreases Illicit Opioid Use
  • Decreases The Risk for Hepatitis and HIV
  • Decreases Criminal Activities
  • Increases Employment
  • Improves Birth Outcomes for Pregnant Women Battling Addiction

Standard MAT involves a hospital stay. Doctors administer naloxone and other medications to reduce Roxicodone levels, and other medications to ease the ensuing withdrawal symptoms. While standard inpatient MAT relieves the intensity and duration of symptoms somewhat, patients still face a lengthy, uncomfortable and demoralizing battle. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.

Rapid detox is cutting-edge medical technology, thought by many to be the most humane form of detoxification available today. During rapid detox, board certified anesthesiologists administer the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs alongside sedatives and anesthesia, so that patient enjoys a pleasant "twilight sleep." When she awakens, she will have no memory of the grueling detoxification process. Instead of a few days, she is ready for meaningful behavior modification in a few hours.


Because Roxicodone addiction is a neurological disease that manifests itself through behaviors such as craving and drug-seeking, behavioral modification is essential for recovery. Addiction is a complex but treatable disease; each person experiences addiction differently, therefore no single treatment is appropriate for everyone. Effective treatment addresses the individual's multiple needs, not just her drug abuse. Many who suffer addiction to Roxicodone or other drugs have other mental disorders, legal trouble, social problems or relationship issues that compound addiction and increase the risk for relapse.

Treatment programs should assess patients for diseases such as HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Rehabilitation programs should include counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.

Individual counseling, group therapy and other behavioral modification programs are commonly used to treat drug abuse. Treatment needs to be readily available to encourage maximum participation. Remaining in treatment for an adequate amount of time is critical to prevent relapse. Rehabilitation professionals need to monitor the patient's treatment course and progress to make sure treatment meets the individual's needs. Relapse is common and professional monitoring reduces the risk for return to Roxicodone abuse.

Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. According to NIDA, individuals under legal coercion tend to remain in treatment longer than and do better than those not under pressure.