Because oxycodone comes in the form of doctor prescribed medication and is most often used by patients trying to manage pain and recovery from medical injuries, overtime it is common for a patient to become physically dependent on the drug. Physical dependence is a typical response to repeated exposure to the drug but is not the same as drug addiction.1 When taking oxycodone, it is important to have medical supervision and to be advised by the doctor how much of the drug should be taken over time and the appropriate time to stop using the drug.
According to the NIDA and the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), drug dependence/ addiction is defined as a “compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences, including the inability to stop using the drug; failure to meet [life] obligations; and, sometimes (depending on the drug), tolerance and withdrawal.”2
Physical dependence is when the “body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal). … Physical dependence “accompanies” addiction, but does not constitute addiction.”2
Over a period of time, the body builds up tolerance for the drugs, so even if a person is only physically dependent and not addicted to the drug, the person may experience minor to major withdrawal symptoms.
- Muscle and Bone Pain
- Cold flashes with goose bumps
- Involuntary leg movements
Signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction are much like addiction to other drugs.
HBO’s special documentary, Addiction, notes the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of a person that is dependent on a substance if their pattern of substance use leads to distress in three of more ways over a 12-month span of time:3
- Tolerance of the drug:
- Need for increased amounts of the substance to achieve intoxication or desired effect
- Diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the substance
- Characteristic withdrawal symptom of the substance
- The same of a closely related substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
- Loss of control:
- The substance is taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use
- A great deal of time is spent in activities to obtain substance, use of the substance or recover from its effects
- Continuation despite consequences:
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of substance use
- Adverse consequences:
- The substance use is continued despite knowledge of having a recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been cause or exacerbated by the substance 3
These symptoms have been noted throughout our website for different drugs. This is important to note because what it shows is that drug addiction, no matter what the drug, leads to a specific series of behaviors that leads to various actions that can become very apparent and recognizable to those trying to help a drug addict.
These characteristics are not limited to addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. So, if you see that a person is exhibiting one of these symptoms it does not necessarily mean he/she is a drug addict or alcoholic. However, if you do recognize one or more of these symptoms, it is important to monitor the person more closely. From there, you may be able to see more specific behaviors which should eventually lead to helping the person find addiction help, rehabilitation, and treatment.
1) “NIDA InfoFacts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse. Date downloaded: July 19, 2010.
2) “Principle of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse. Date downloaded: July 19, 2010.
3) “Understanding Addiction: When Is Someone Addicted?” Addiction. HBO. Date downloaded: June 22, 2010.