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Oxycodone Vs Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Center Orange County California

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Opioid Medications and Their Uses

In pain management, two potent contenders emerge oxycodone and fentanyl. As opioid medications, both serve the crucial purpose of alleviating pain, yet their unique characteristics and effects set them apart. Delving into the complexities of these medications can provide valuable insights into their uses, risks, and considerations one must keep in mind when navigating the realm of pain relief. This article comprehensively compares oxycodone and fentanyl, shedding light on their mechanisms, forms, classifications, and implications for addiction and recovery. Understanding the nuances of these medications empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their pain management journey while remaining vigilant about potential challenges.

Opioids and Their Classification

Oxycodone and fentanyl fall under the umbrella of opioids, including a spectrum of substances such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opioids can be either naturally derived from the opium poppy plant or synthetically produced to mimic their effects. While these medications offer powerful pain relief, they also present the potential for misuse and dependence.

Endogenous and Exogenous: A Mechanistic Overview

Within the body’s intricate systems, the terms “endogenous” and “exogenous” delineate the origin of substances. Endogenous opioids are naturally produced within the body and interact with opioid receptors, regulating pain and other physiological processes. Conversely, exogenous opioids are introduced from external sources, such as medications, and bind to the same receptors to induce pain relief and other effects.

Regulation and Classification: Balancing Medical Use and Risk

Both oxycodone and fentanyl are classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule II controlled substances. This classification acknowledges their legitimate medical applications but also highlights their high potential for abuse and dependence. Legally, these drugs can only be obtained with a prescription, and the DEA monitors their distribution to prevent misuse.

Fentanyl: A Potent Synthetic Opioid

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid analgesic, is employed primarily for managing severe pain. Its potency outstrips that of morphine by 50 to 100 times. Fentanyl is versatile, available in various forms like patches, lozenges, injectable solutions, nasal sprays, sublingual tabs, and buccal tabs. It is marketed under several brand names, including Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, Abstral, and Subsys.

Types and Dosages

Fentanyl is available in various types and dosages, primarily for medical use. The dosages can vary depending on the specific formulation and method of administration. It’s important to note that fentanyl is a potent opioid, and its use should be strictly controlled and supervised by healthcare professionals. Here are common types and dosages of pharmaceutical fentanyl:

1. Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal Patch):

  • Dosages: Duragesic patches come in different dosage strengths, typically ranging from 12 micrograms per hour (mcg/h) to 100 mcg/h.
  • Usage: These patches are designed for slow, controlled release over a specified period, usually 72 hours.

2. Injectable Fentanyl (Sublimaze):

  • Dosages: Injectable fentanyl is available in various concentrations for intravenous or intramuscular administration. Common concentrations include 50 mcg/mL and 100 mcg/mL.
  • Usage: Injectable forms are used in medical settings, such as during surgery or for acute pain management.

3. Fentanyl Sublingual Tablets (Abstral):

  • Dosages: Sublingual fentanyl tablets are available in various strengths, such as 100 mcg, 200 mcg, 300 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg, 800 mcg, and 1,200 mcg.
  • Usage: These tablets are designed to be placed under the tongue for rapid absorption.

4. Actiq (Fentanyl Oral Transmucosal Lozenge):

  • Dosages: Actiq comes in units called “lollipops,” and dosages are indicated in micrograms per unit (e.g., 200 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg, 800 mcg, 1,200 mcg, 1,600 mcg, and 2,400 mcg).
  • Usage: Actiq is used for breakthrough cancer pain and is consumed by allowing it to dissolve in the mouth.

5. Fentanyl Buccal Tablets (Fentora):

  • Dosages: Fentora tablets come in various strengths, such as 100 mcg, 200 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg, 800 mcg, and 1,200 mcg.
  • Usage: Buccal tablets are designed to be placed against the cheek and allowed to dissolve.

It’s crucial for individuals prescribed fentanyl to use the medication exactly as directed by their healthcare provider.

Imprints

Below are examples of imprints found on some fentanyl products. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and different formulations may have different imprints.

Duragesic (Fentanyl Transdermal Patch):

  • Duragesic patches typically have brand markings and dosage strength imprints.
  • Example: “DURAGESIC 25 mcg/h” or similar, indicating the dosage strength.

Fentanyl Buccal Tablets (Fentora):

  • Fentora tablets may have imprints indicating the dosage strength.
  • Example: “FENTORA 200” or similar, indicating a 200 mcg tablet.

Actiq (Fentanyl Oral Transmucosal Lozenge):

  • Actiq lozenges come in a unique “lollipop” form, and the unit may have dosage strength imprints.
  • Example: “ACTIQ 800” or similar, indicating an 800 mcg lozenge.

Sublimaze (Injectable Fentanyl):

  • Injectable fentanyl used in medical settings may have vial imprints indicating the concentration.
  • Example: “Sublimaze 50 mcg/mL” or similar.

Uses

Fentanyl is a potent opioid analgesic primarily used for pain management, especially in situations where other pain medications may not provide adequate relief. Its use is typically reserved for specific circumstances and under the supervision of healthcare professionals. Here are some common uses of fentanyl:

  1. Post-Surgical Pain:

    • Fentanyl may be used to manage severe pain following surgical procedures.
  2. Chronic Pain Management:

    • In certain cases of chronic pain, such as cancer-related pain or other conditions causing persistent and severe pain, fentanyl may be prescribed for long-term pain management.
  3. Breakthrough Cancer Pain:

    • Fentanyl formulations like Actiq or Fentora are designed to manage breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Breakthrough pain refers to sudden, intense pain episodes that occur despite ongoing pain management.
  4. Anesthesia:

    • Fentanyl is often used as an adjunct to anesthesia during surgical procedures to provide pain relief and sedation.
  5. Transdermal Patches for Chronic Pain:

    • Duragesic, a fentanyl transdermal patch, is used for chronic pain management when a continuous, long-lasting opioid effect is required.
  6. Emergency Pain Management:

    • Fentanyl may be used in emergency medical settings or during ambulance transport to manage severe pain.

Side Effects

Here are some common short-term and long-term side effects associated with fentanyl use:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Respiratory Depression:

    • Fentanyl, being an opioid, can suppress respiratory function, leading to slow or shallow breathing. This is a potentially serious side effect that can result in respiratory failure.
  2. Sedation and Drowsiness:

    • Fentanyl can cause sedation and drowsiness, impairing alertness and coordination.
  3. Nausea and Vomiting:

    • Opioids, including fentanyl, often cause nausea and vomiting, particularly when initiating or adjusting the medication.
  4. Constipation:

    • Opioids are known to cause constipation, which can be a persistent side effect.
  5. Dizziness or Lightheadedness:

    • Fentanyl use may lead to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when standing up quickly.
  6. Itching or Rash:

    • Some individuals may experience itching or a skin rash as a side effect.
  7. Confusion or Cognitive Impairment:

    • Fentanyl can affect cognitive function, leading to confusion or cognitive impairment.
  8. Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure):

    • Fentanyl may cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to symptoms such as dizziness or fainting.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance:

    • Prolonged use of fentanyl may lead to tolerance, requiring higher doses over time to achieve the same level of pain relief.
  2. Physical Dependence:

    • Regular use of fentanyl can lead to physical dependence, and abrupt discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms.
  3. Addiction:

    • There is a risk of developing opioid use disorder (addiction) with long-term use, especially in those with a history of substance abuse.
  4. Hormonal Changes:

    • Chronic opioid use, including fentanyl, can affect hormonal levels, potentially leading to issues such as low testosterone.
  5. Gastrointestinal Issues:

    • Long-term use is associated with ongoing constipation and potential gastrointestinal complications.
  6. Cognitive Effects:

    • Chronic opioid use may impact cognitive function and memory.
  7. Increased Sensitivity to Pain:

    • Prolonged use may paradoxically increase sensitivity to pain, a phenomenon known as hyperalgesia.

Can You Get Addicted to Fentanyl?

Yes, it is possible to become addicted to fentanyl. Fentanyl is a potent opioid analgesic, and opioids have the potential for both physical dependence and addiction. Addiction is a complex condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.

Several factors contribute to the risk of developing an addiction to fentanyl:

  1. Opioid Receptor Activation:

    • Fentanyl activates opioid receptors in the brain, producing pleasurable and pain-relieving effects. The repeated activation of these receptors can lead to changes in the brain’s reward system, contributing to addiction.
  2. Tolerance:

    • With prolonged use, individuals may develop tolerance to the effects of fentanyl, requiring higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. Tolerance is a risk factor for addiction.
  3. Physical Dependence:

    • Regular use of fentanyl can lead to physical dependence, and abrupt discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependence alone does not necessarily indicate addiction, but it is a component.
  4. Psychological Dependence:

    • Individuals may develop a psychological dependence on fentanyl, relying on the medication to cope with emotional or psychological distress.
  5. Misuse or Abuse:

    • Using fentanyl in ways other than prescribed, such as taking higher doses or crushing and snorting the medication, increases the risk of addiction.
  6. Co-occurring Factors:

    • Other factors, such as a history of substance abuse, mental health conditions, or genetic predisposition, can contribute to an increased vulnerability to addiction.

Can You Overdose on Fentanyl?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on fentanyl. Fentanyl is a potent opioid analgesic, and an overdose can occur when an individual takes more of the medication than their body can tolerate. Overdose can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications, including respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Factors that can increase the risk of a fentanyl overdose include:

  1. Taking Higher Than Prescribed Doses:

    • Taking doses higher than prescribed by a healthcare professional increases the risk of overdose.
  2. Combining with Other Depressants:

    • Combining fentanyl with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can amplify the sedative effects and increase the risk of respiratory depression.
  3. Using Illicitly Obtained Fentanyl:

    • Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which may be more potent than pharmaceutical formulations, poses a higher risk of overdose.
  4. Tolerance:

    • Individuals who have developed tolerance to opioids may be at a higher risk of taking larger doses to achieve the desired effects, increasing the risk of overdose.
  5. Respiratory Conditions:

    • Individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may be more susceptible to respiratory depression.

The symptoms of a fentanyl overdose can include:

  • Severe respiratory depression (slow or stopped breathing)
  • Extreme drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Cyanosis (bluish tint to lips or skin)
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

If a fentanyl overdose is suspected, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately. Administering the opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan) may reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is a critical intervention. It’s important for individuals taking fentanyl to follow their prescribed dosage, communicate openly with their healthcare provider, and be aware of the signs of overdose. If there are concerns about the medication or its effects, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential.

Oxycodone: Semi-Synthetic Pain Alleviation

Below are common types of oxycodone formulations and their dosages:

1. Immediate-Release (IR) Oxycodone:

  • This formulation provides rapid pain relief.
  • Dosages typically range from 5 mg to 30 mg per tablet.
  • Common dosages include 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg.

2. Extended-Release (ER) Oxycodone:

  • Extended-release formulations are designed for around-the-clock pain control.
  • Dosages are often higher, with common strengths including 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 120 mg.
  • OxyContin is a well-known brand of extended-release oxycodone.

3. Oxycodone/Acetaminophen (Percocet):

  • This combination formulation includes oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Oxycodone/acetaminophen dosages typically range from 2.5 mg/325 mg to 10 mg/650 mg.
  • Common dosages include 5 mg/325 mg, 7.5 mg/325 mg, and 10 mg/325 mg.

4. Oxycodone/Aspirin (Percodan):

  • This combination includes oxycodone and aspirin.
  • Dosages are expressed as the oxycodone content, with common dosages including 4.5 mg and 7.5 mg.

5. Oxycodone/Naloxone:

  • Some formulations combine oxycodone with naloxone to deter abuse.
  • Dosages are expressed in terms of oxycodone content, similar to other formulations.

Imprints

It’s important to note that the appearance of the medication can vary based on the manufacturer and dosage strength. Below are examples of imprints commonly found on oxycodone tablets:

  1. Immediate-Release Oxycodone:

    • Generic versions may have imprints such as “A 215” (30 mg), “M 30” (30 mg), or “K 9” (30 mg).
  2. Extended-Release Oxycodone (OxyContin):

    • Dosages and imprints can vary, such as “OP 10” (10 mg), “OP 20” (20 mg), “OP 40” (40 mg), “OP 80” (80 mg), “OP 10” (10 mg), “OP 30” (30 mg), “OP 60” (60 mg), and “OP 120” (120 mg).
  3. Oxycodone/Acetaminophen (Percocet):

    • Imprints may include “Percocet” on one side and a dosage indication such as “5/325,” “7.5/325,” or “10/325” on the other.

Uses

Here are some common medical uses of oxycodone:

  1. Post-Surgical Pain:

    • Oxycodone may be prescribed to manage pain following surgical procedures, providing relief during the initial recovery period.
  2. Trauma-Related Pain:

    • In cases of trauma, such as fractures or injuries, oxycodone may be used to alleviate acute pain.
  3. Chronic Pain:

    • For individuals with chronic pain conditions, such as certain types of cancer pain or severe musculoskeletal pain, oxycodone may be prescribed for long-term pain management.
  4. Pain Associated with Medical Conditions:

    • Oxycodone can be used to alleviate pain associated with various medical conditions, including degenerative joint diseases, neuropathic pain, and other chronic pain syndromes.
  5. Pain Management in Cancer Patients:

    • Cancer patients may receive oxycodone as part of a pain management regimen to address cancer-related pain.
  6. Post-Operative Pain in Dentistry:

    • After dental procedures or oral surgeries, oxycodone may be prescribed to manage pain and discomfort.

Side Effects

Here are some short-term and long-term side effects associated with oxycodone use:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Nausea and Vomiting:

    • Common side effects, especially when starting or adjusting the medication.
  2. Drowsiness and Sedation:

    • Oxycodone can cause drowsiness, which may impair alertness and coordination.
  3. Constipation:

    • Opioids, including oxycodone, often lead to constipation, a common side effect.
  4. Itching:

    • Some individuals may experience itching or skin reactions.
  5. Dizziness:

    • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy can occur, particularly when standing up quickly.
  6. Confusion:

    • Some individuals may experience confusion or cognitive impairment.
  7. Respiratory Depression:

    • In high doses or when combined with other depressant substances, oxycodone can cause slowed breathing, a potentially serious side effect.

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance:

    • Over time, individuals may develop tolerance, requiring higher doses for the same pain relief.
  2. Physical Dependence:

    • Prolonged use can lead to physical dependence, and abrupt discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms.
  3. Addiction:

    • There is a risk of developing opioid use disorder (addiction) with long-term use, especially in those with a history of substance abuse.
  4. Hormonal Changes:

    • Chronic opioid use can affect hormone levels, potentially leading to issues such as low testosterone.
  5. Immune System Suppression:

    • Opioids may have immunosuppressive effects, impacting the body’s ability to fight infections.
  6. Gastrointestinal Issues:

    • Long-term use is associated with ongoing constipation and potential gastrointestinal complications.
  7. Cognitive Effects:

    • Chronic opioid use may impact cognitive function and memory.
  8. Increased Sensitivity to Pain:

    • Prolonged use may paradoxically increase sensitivity to pain, a phenomenon known as hyperalgesia.

Can You Get Addicted?

Yes, it is possible to become addicted to oxycodone. Oxycodone is an opioid analgesic, and opioids have the potential for both physical dependence and addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug-seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.

Several factors contribute to the risk of developing an addiction to oxycodone:

  1. Opioid Receptor Activation:

    • Oxycodone activates opioid receptors in the brain, producing pleasurable and pain-relieving effects. The repeated activation of these receptors can lead to changes in the brain’s reward system, contributing to addiction.
  2. Tolerance:

    • With prolonged use, the body may develop tolerance to the effects of oxycodone, requiring higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. Tolerance is a risk factor for addiction.
  3. Physical Dependence:

    • Regular use of oxycodone can lead to physical dependence, where the body adapts to the presence of the drug. Abrupt discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms, but physical dependence alone does not necessarily indicate addiction.
  4. Psychological Dependence:

    • Individuals may develop a psychological dependence on oxycodone, relying on the medication to cope with emotional or psychological distress.
  5. Misuse or Abuse:

    • Using oxycodone in ways other than prescribed, such as taking higher doses or crushing and snorting the medication, increases the risk of addiction.
  6. Co-occurring Factors:

    • Other factors, such as a history of substance abuse, mental health conditions, or genetic predisposition, can contribute to an increased vulnerability to addiction.

Can You Overdose on Oxycodone?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on oxycodone. Oxycodone is a potent opioid analgesic, and an overdose can occur when an individual takes more of the medication than their body can tolerate. Overdose can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications, including respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Factors that can increase the risk of an oxycodone overdose include:

  1. Taking Higher Than Prescribed Doses:

    • Taking doses higher than prescribed by a healthcare professional increases the risk of overdose.
  2. Combining with Other Depressants:

    • Combining oxycodone with other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can amplify the sedative effects and increase the risk of respiratory depression.
  3. Using Crushed or Altered Formulations:

    • Crushing or altering extended-release formulations (e.g., OxyContin) to bypass the controlled-release mechanism can lead to the rapid release of a large amount of oxycodone, increasing the risk of overdose.
  4. Tolerance:

    • Individuals who have developed tolerance to opioids may be at a higher risk of taking larger doses to achieve the desired effects, increasing the risk of overdose.
  5. Respiratory Conditions:

    • Individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may be more susceptible to respiratory depression.

The symptoms of an oxycodone overdose can include:

  • Severe respiratory depression (slow or stopped breathing)
  • Extreme drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Cyanosis (bluish tint to lips or skin)
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

If an overdose is suspected, emergency medical attention should be sought immediately. Administering the opioid antagonist naloxone (Narcan) may reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is a critical intervention. It’s important for individuals taking oxycodone to follow their prescribed dosage, communicate openly with their healthcare provider, and be aware of the signs of overdose. If there are concerns about the medication or its effects, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential.

Oxycodone vs Fentanyl

Oxycodone and fentanyl are both potent opioid analgesics used for pain management, but they have differences in terms of potency, duration of action, and specific applications. It’s important to note that both medications carry risks of side effects, dependence, and potential for misuse or addiction.

Oxycodone:

  1. Potency:

    • Oxycodone is a potent opioid, but it is generally considered less potent than fentanyl.
  2. Duration of Action:

    • Oxycodone is available in immediate-release (IR) and extended-release (ER) formulations. Immediate-release oxycodone provides relief for a shorter duration, usually every 4-6 hours, while extended-release formulations provide longer-lasting relief over 12 hours.
  3. Forms:

    • Oxycodone is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and oral solutions.
  4. Applications:

    • Oxycodone is commonly used for moderate to severe pain, such as post-surgical pain, cancer-related pain, or chronic pain conditions.

Fentanyl:

  1. Potency:

    • Fentanyl is an extremely potent opioid, estimated to be about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
  2. Duration of Action:

    • Fentanyl is available in various formulations, including transdermal patches, injectable solutions, and lozenges. The transdermal patch provides continuous, long-lasting relief over a specified period, typically 72 hours.
  3. Forms:

    • Fentanyl is available in different forms, including injectable solutions for medical settings, transdermal patches for chronic pain, and lozenges (Actiq) for breakthrough cancer pain.
  4. Applications:

    • Fentanyl is often reserved for severe pain management, particularly in cases where other opioids may be insufficient. It is commonly used in situations such as post-surgical pain, chronic pain, and breakthrough cancer pain.

Considerations:

  1. Potency and Dosing:

    • Due to its potency, fentanyl requires careful dosing and monitoring to avoid overdose or respiratory depression. The dosages are significantly lower than those of less potent opioids like oxycodone.
  2. Administration Route:

    • Fentanyl can be administered through various routes, including transdermal, intravenous, intramuscular, and transmucosal, providing flexibility in its use.
  3. Risk of Respiratory Depression:

    • Both oxycodone and fentanyl carry a risk of respiratory depression, but this risk is higher with fentanyl, especially if misused or administered inappropriately.

The choice between oxycodone and fentanyl is made based on the specific pain condition, the need for continuous or breakthrough pain relief, and the patient’s individual response to opioids. Both medications should be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional, and patients should be closely monitored for side effects and potential risks. If there are concerns or questions about opioid medications, individuals should consult with their healthcare provider.

Addressing Dependence and Addiction: Seeking Solutions

Both fentanyl and oxycodone can lead to dependence and addiction even when used as prescribed. Individuals struggling with opioid use disorders may require a medical detox, which could involve medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to manage withdrawal symptoms. Effective treatments for opioid addiction encompass medications, individual and group therapy, and supplementary therapies.

Navigating Pain Management Safely

Oxycodone and fentanyl, while valuable for pain management, pose significant risks of misuse. Long-term usage can lead to dependence and addiction. For those grappling with opioid use disorders involving these drugs or others, avenues for help are available, including inpatient and outpatient detox programs. Through these programs, medications and alternative pain management strategies can pave the way toward recovery and a healthier, opioid-free life.

Seeking Treatment? We Can Help!

In conclusion, oxycodone and fentanyl belong to the class of opioid medications, with the potential to offer pain relief while carrying the risks of misuse and addiction. Understanding their mechanisms, classifications, and differences is paramount for making informed decisions about pain management and addiction recovery. For individuals facing opioid use disorders involving fentanyl, oxycodone, or other opioids, seeking professional help is crucial. Inpatient and outpatient detox programs, alongside addiction treatment, provide avenues for recovery and the restoration of a healthier, drug-free life.

At California Prime Recovery, we understand the complexities of addiction and are committed to providing comprehensive treatment solutions for those on the journey to recovery. Contact us today at 866-208-2390 to take the first step towards a life of health, wellness, and freedom from opioid dependence. Your path to recovery starts here.

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