What Is Opana?
Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone, which is a semisynthetic opioid analgesic. Medically, Opana is prescribed for people suffering from moderate to severe pain. Opana is also used recreationally due to how it interacts with the brain. Opioids attach to receptors in the brain to trigger the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
By increasing the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the body, Opana induces a sense of relaxation and an elevated sense of wellbeing. Even in small amounts, Opana can prove addictive due to the enjoyable elation and euphoria it causes. Aside from relieving physical pain, the neurotransmitters Opana triggers can also relieve emotional pain, giving the sensation that stress, anxiety and sadness are melting away.
Opana is prescribed in one of two forms: The standard immediate-release form, which may be taken on an as-needed basis, and Opana ER, which gradually reduces a large amount of oxymorphone over a 12- or 24-hour period to help with around-the-clock pain relief. In 2017, the FDA actually requested that the manufacturer take Opana ER off the market because of its high risk of misuse.
Unfortunately, anyone can end up becoming dependent on any form of Opana, even if they’re taking it as prescribed by their doctor. Once dependency forms, a person is at a high risk of becoming addicted to Opana.
Understanding Misuse, Dependency and Addiction
Opana and other opioids are misused for the same reason: By nature, opioids induce a sense of lifted mood, relief and relaxation. This sensation can be addictive, even in those who begin taking Opana for pain relief. However, misuse does not always constitute addiction. In order to understand how misuse, dependence and addiction connect, it’s important to define these common terms.
Misuse in itself does not constitute an addiction, but it puts a person at an even greater risk of forming one. If someone is misusing a drug, they are taking a greater amount than prescribed, taking it more often than prescribed, taking it for a reason other than prescribed, taking it in a manner contrary to their prescription or taking it without a prescription at all.
So, a person who is prescribed Opana would be misusing the drug if they increased their dosage without asking their doctor. If the person does this because they’re experiencing severe pain, it would represent accidental misuse. However, if they increase their dose to experience a stronger “rush” of Opana’s effects, they’re intentionally misusing it because they’re taking it for a reason other than prescribed.
Dependency on Opana can form even if a person is taking it exactly as prescribed by their doctor, and that’s the nature of opioids. Opana and other powerful pain relievers tend to be used daily to help manage moderate and severe pain. The persistent presence of opioids within the body eventually alters the brain’s chemistry as the body grows accustomed to it.
Once the brain’s chemistry is altered by the consistent presence of Opana, a person is said to have a physical dependency on the drug. A physical dependency is marked by withdrawal symptoms, which can occur within hours of “missing” a routine dose.
As the last dose of Opana begins to wear off in the body, a person may begin to feel irritable, agitated, anxious or stressed out. Other withdrawal symptoms of Opana include trouble sleeping and excessive sweating. As soon as the person takes Opana, these withdrawal symptoms disappear—and that pattern of relief can create a cycle of addiction.
While dependency does put a person at a greater risk of becoming addicted to Opana, it does not mean that an individual is addicted to Opana. Physical dependency on a drug and an addiction to that drug are different.
Addiction, better described as a substance use disorder, can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. In general, professionals will evaluate an individual for physical dependency, misuse and motivation to determine if they have an Opana addiction.
A person who is addicted to Opana may find that they are not only physically dependent on it but emotionally dependent on it as well. Emotional dependence is characterized by:
- Drug-related thoughts.
- Fear when the supply runs low.
- A significant time spent acquiring more of the drug.
- Spending less time with friends or on hobbies.
- Continuing to misuse the drug, even when there are known consequences.
Although only a medical professional can make a formal diagnosis of Opana addiction, learning the warning signs is important in helping someone get treatment for their addiction.
How Long Does Opana Stay In Your System?
How long a drug stays in your system is dependent on its half-life. A drug’s half-life also determines when withdrawal symptoms begin and how long a person will test positive on a drug test after their last dose. For Opana, the half-life ranges from about nine to 12 hours, but multiple factors can affect how long the drug remains in your system.
If you take Opana IR, which is the immediate-release version, the half-life is much shorter. However, Opana ER, which is the extended-release version, can have a much longer half-life. A person’s age also affects the half-life of a drug. Older individuals tend to have less efficient renal function, which means it will take longer for their body to eliminate the drug fully.
Taking alcohol with Opana, or combining it with another substance, can also impact how long Opana stays in the system. Other substances can change how the body metabolizes Opana, which can lead to it staying in your body for longer. Eating can also impact the half-life because it changes when the body expels waste.
Lastly, your body size and the amount you take will directly impact Opana’s half-life. Someone with more body fat will probably hold Opana for longer than someone with less body fat because fat stores represent a place for Opana to accumulate. Larger amounts of Opana also take longer to expel.
Once Opana is completely out of your system, the withdrawal symptoms can set in immediately if a physical dependence has been formed.
If someone has a physical dependence on Opana, the withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as 12 hours after their last dose, and generally start within 12 to 30 hours. The most severe withdrawal symptoms peak within a few days of your last dose and go away after one or two weeks, but certain symptoms can last for months, especially in cases of chronic misuse.
The most common immediate symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Trouble sleeping.
- Muscle aches.
- Excessive sweating.
As time goes by, late-stage withdrawal can cause:
- Cramping in the abdomen.
These symptoms are particularly dangerous because the combination can lead to dehydration, which can worsen vomiting, creating a vicious cycle that can end in organ damage or even death.
Certain symptoms, like cravings for Opana, irritability and insomnia, can last for weeks or even months after your last dose, especially if you took Opana for a long time or took high doses of Opana. The discomfort caused by withdrawal can often send a person into relapse, especially if they’re trying to quit on their own.
Opioid users are advised to never stop “cold turkey” or without the help of their doctor. Medical guidance during withdrawal will help keep them safe, avoid relapse and lessen discomfort. A medical detox may also include buprenorphine or another drug to minimize withdrawal symptoms and long-term effects on the body.
The Opana Detox and Recovery Process
Facing Opana withdrawal on your own isn’t just difficult, it can be dangerous. Anyone who has developed a physical dependence on Opana, with or without addiction, should consult their doctor to get help in gradually tapering off their dose and resetting their body chemistry. Ideally, they’ll turn to a treatment center that offers a guided detox process to help.
A person with an Opana addiction will find that a specialized treatment center provides the most comfortable and supportive environment possible during the withdrawal process. Those going through withdrawal will never face it alone, and will instead be monitored in a structured detox that’s designed to minimize symptoms and ensure success.
The detox process may last up to two weeks, but treatment really only just begins as the detox process ends and the individual is clear-minded enough to start their rehabilitation program. The rehabilitation process is always backed by scientific research, but customized to meet the needs and timeline of the individual.
Rehabilitation may take place as in-patient, partial hospitalization or out-patient treatment, depending on what the individual needs. At the end of structured rehabilitation, a person will transition to living on their own, but they’ll never bealone. We stress this notion at Windward Way Recovery because we believe that long-term success and leading a full life after addiction require a strong support system.
At the end of structured rehabilitation, an individual will enter the continuing care phase, where they will continue to receive support in the form of talk sessions, group meetings and other activities aimed to help them achieve the goals that their team worked with them to lay out during the rehabilitation process.
For those leaving a program at Windward Way Recovery, continuing care isn’t just about avoiding relapse, it’s about empowering each individual to reach their fullest potential. Are you interested in learning more? Contact our caring team today and discover our programs.