FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb had this to say regarding opioid drugs like Opana: “The biggest public health crisis facing FDA is opioid addiction. Not a day goes by in my role at FDA without hearing stories of the emotional, physical, and financial toll this epidemic is taking on Americans.”
Opana is a drug that has had its fair share of controversy over the last several years. If you’re addicted to it, getting help should be your first priority. If you’re abusing it, it’s important to get help so that you can stop before you become addicted.
Drug companies will frequently try to keep generic versions of their medications off the market. However, suspicions arise when one of them states that a drug isn’t safe, and then tries to make a profit off it anyway.
This is exactly what happened with Endo Pharmaceuticals regarding Opana. In 2012, they pulled the drug off the market, stating that it was too easy for people to abuse it. They also tried to sue the FDA that year in order to prevent the approval of any generic version. Their argument was that people would abuse the generic versions in the same way.
On the outside it appeared that their actions were heroic; especially in the face of a rising opioid epidemic. However, on the inside, there was some shady activity that was about to be exposed.
Endo Pharmaceuticals released a newer version of Opana, called Opana ER. It included a hard outer coating that would make the pills harder to crush. Of course, it wasn’t long before people would begin cooking the pills into a liquid so they could inject them.
The FDA disagreed that this newer version was resulting in fewer instances of abuse. They ruled that the risks associated with the new version outweighed the benefits. They began pressuring Endo to stop selling it. They agreed, and the drug was pulled in July 2017.
The drug maker still held the patent on the original version of the drug that they wanted to keep off the market. In August of 2017, they made a deal with Impax Laboratories to split the profits from a generic version of the original Opana. They defended their decision by stating that the FDA had approved the drug and deemed it to be safe.
This medication was one of Endo Pharmaceutical’s best selling drugs. It brought in close to $300 million in 2012, which was about 10% of the company’s revenue. Clearly, their change of heart toward Opana had to do with making money, and not with helping patients in pain.
Drug treatment centers have reported higher instances of abuse; even though the newer version was designed to be safer. The number of people snorting the drug has decreased, but the number of people injecting it to get high has soared.
Opana abuse statistics indicate that the misuse of this opioid medication has gotten out of control. In fact:
Further statistics indicate that:
The continued sale of Opana is only fanning the flames of our current opioid epidemic. If you’re using this drug, you may have a lot of questions. It’s possible that you’re addicted to it, and you don’t even realize it. Let’s dig deeper and go over some more information about this dangerous medication.
Opana is an opioid medication that also goes by the name, Oxymorphone hydrochloride. It’s available in both 5mg and 10mg strengths. It is a drug that is indicated to help manage severe, acute pain. It’s not intended for long-term use. Also, it should only be prescribed when other methods of managing pain have been tried first.
Opana ER is the extended release formulation of this medication. This is much different from the immediate release (IR) version. Extended release means that a small amount of the drug is released into the body over time. This allows patients to take it less frequently, and still benefit from its pain relieving effects.
This video gives an excellent overview of what Opana is and how it works in the body:
The body is filled with receptors that send messages to the brain. When something is deemed to cause harm to the body, the nociceptors send messages to the brain. This is the first step in experiencing pain.
After this, the primary afferent neuron sends a signal to the dorsal root ganglion. Electrical current causes the release of neurotransmitters. This passes along the pain signal to the brain through the spinal cord. There, it’s interpreted as pain.
Opioid drugs work by inhibiting the pain signal at multiple steps during this process. They work in both the brain and the spinal cord. Medications are very effective at treating pain because they block it from just about every angle in the body.
Here is some more scientific information about how opioid drugs work to block pain:
Because it’s a drug of abuse, Opana goes by several different names on the street. These include:
Among these names, Pandas and OPs are the most popular. It’s very common for high school students to call the drug, Pandas. In fact, a news station did a story on Opana, and they brought some interesting information to light.
Students at one high school decided to do a story for their TV class on the dangers of Opana. They stated that staff would be able to tell if a student was using the drug by looking for certain signs. The kids may be talking about pandas or panda bears. They may talk about going to the zoo. Some students will even have stickers on their notebooks of pandas. All of these were a clear indication that they were into the drug.
This is a video of the news story:
Oxymorphone hydrochloride is the active ingredient in Opana. It is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic drug. It works as an agonist in the body, and its therapeutic action is pain relief, or analgesia.
The inactive ingredients include:
There are a lot of similarities between this medication and other opioid drugs. The main one is that they are all mostly used to treat pain. Many of them are saved for cases when weaker medications don’t result in pain relief. For instance, Fentanyl and Dilaudid are two examples, which makes them very similar to Opana.
Because they all fall under the opioid classification, you can expect the side effects to be similar as well. Some experts argue that the side effects with Opana may be more severe because of its potency.
As far as differences go, the strength of these drugs varies. Opana is twice as strong as heroin and oxycodone. It’s as much as eight times stronger than morphine.
Of course, there are also some differences in the way the drugs are all made. However, they all still bind to the body’s opioid receptors in the same way.
Our country’s stance on the opioid problem has made it much harder to get a prescription for Opana. Doctors are much more likely to choose other medications that have a much lower risk of addiction.
This drug can be obtained on the street, but at a hefty price. Of course, the price of it will vary, depending on where you are in the country. Some reports claim that people are selling it for between $35 and $50 per pill. In some parts of the United States, it might be sold for as much as $90 per pill on the street.
The cost of Opana on the streets shows that it’s a drug that’s in high demand. In future months and years, experts expect to see the hype over Oxy to slow down. They believe that people will begin to gravitate toward this newer medication instead.
When you use Opana appropriately, you’re either taking it in pill form, or receiving an injection. You have a doctor’s prescription, and you’re only expected to use it for a certain amount of time.
Most people who abuse Opana aren’t aware of how strong it is. They may believe that because they’ve taken other opioids in the past, this one will work the same way. This simply isn’t the case, and it has led to a number of accidental overdoses nationwide.
Like other opioid drugs, Opana can cause a host of side effects. They tend to be worse for someone who is abusing it, but anyone who is taking the drug will experience:
There are some side effects that are much more serious. These rarely occur with the appropriate use of this drug. However, they’re more likely for someone who is abusing it. They include:
If you experience any of these, it’s important to talk with your doctor. In some cases, this medication can be life threatening, even when it’s used with a prescription.
People who abuse Opana recreationally do so because of the intense high the drug can produce. They report feelings of euphoria and relaxation that are coupled by a significant decrease in pain.
Erowid is a popular website that addicts and drug abusers use to describe their experiences with various drugs. One Erowid user reported on Opana, stating that it was the “Ultimate Opiate.” He went on to describe the high he experienced:
“So we crushed up the pills after we both got off work that day, which are much softer than oxycontin pills, and are very soft on the nostrils when snorted. I barely feel them going into my mucous membranes. We snorted our lines all at once, one pill each. Within a minute, a rush went through my whole body and I found myself lying back on the couch in a state of complete bliss and euphoria. I have never felt a rush like this from anything. I have never shot anything up, but smoked heroin doesn’t come close to what I felt. This was complete euphoria, and complete dissolution of all problems in my life. I was happy.
“The rush seemed to wear off in about 10 minutes, and a solid opiate high sets in and lasts a good 2 hours or so. It doesn’t last as long as Oxys but the rush is so intense and amazing. We both snorted another pill 2 hours later and got the same rush. The high is different from Oxys as well. It feels stronger than Oxy, but at the same time softer and without the heavy load of Oxy. It was the best opiate high I have ever experienced.”
It’s very common for people to abuse the terms abuse and addiction with one another. They are really two different things, and it’s important to understand those differences.
When someone abuses Opana, they’re doing so for the euphoric high the drug produces. It may be their first time, or it could be their fiftieth time using it. They don’t feel compelled to do it, and they’re only using it because it makes them feel good.
An addiction is very different from abuse. Once someone is addicted, they feel as though they have to use. They may even start to worry that they won’t survive if they have to stop. They begin to rearrange their entire lives based on their ability to get high with their drug of choice. It is at that point that they’re considered to be dependent on Opana.
There are some drugs that can cause addiction right after the very first use. When you consider how powerful Opana is, it’s possible that it could be one of them. However, most people will need to abuse it more than one time before they become addicted.
When you form a dependence on a drug, it usually happens because you’ve been abusing it for a period of time. When you use a substance like Opana, it results in an increase in dopamine levels in your brain. This is the chemical that makes you feel good. You usually experience dopamine surges after having a good meal or spending time with people who make you happy.
When you repeatedly use Opana, your brain starts to rely on the drug for that dopamine release. Eventually, it’s as though it forgets how to produce it on its own. If you miss a dose of the drug, you won’t feel like yourself at all. You may begin to feel sad or depressed, even when everything else in your life is going well.
Dopamine is at the center of what leads to dependence. Recovery can help you train your brain how to produce it once again, but it does take some time.
The following is a great, quick overview about dopamine:
Yes, it is very possible to overdose on Opana, and in some cases, it may happen more often than with other opioids. In order for this to occur, one of two scenarios needs to have taken place.
Given the fact that this is a highly potent and powerful medication, it’s possible for people to overdose accidentally. This means that they are using it for recreational purposes and they simply misjudged how much it would take to get high. Many people think of it as being very similar to oxycodone, but it is twice as powerful.
The second scenario occurs when someone has tried to stop taking Opana and then they suffer from a relapse. It may have taken them months to work up to their usual dose of the drug, but they did so slowly. Then, they suddenly stopped taking it, and withdrawal sets in.
When they go back to using the drug, these individuals will often just start taking their usual dose. What they don’t realize is that their tolerance levels aren’t what they used to be. Drug tolerance can begin to change as soon as you quit taking a substance. As those levels drop, it takes less of the drug to get you high than it did before. The result is that your usual dose is too much for the body to handle, and you overdose.
When you make the decision to stop taking Opana, you’ve made the right choice. However, the road that lies ahead will be challenging, but very rewarding. You will experience withdrawal symptoms very soon after your last dose of the drug. They can make it very hard for you to stay on track with your recovery.
Withdrawal is your body’s way of responding when something it’s used to getting stops. Your body has grown accustomed to you using this drug on a regular basis. When you no longer are, it’s going to respond, and that response will be negative at first.
You’re likely to experience both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking this medication. The symptoms of Opana withdrawal include:
Withdrawal can be very difficult, but it won’t last forever. You will begin to feel better in time. However, it’s much easier if you go through it with medical help. We’ll talk more about what that means in just a moment.
The symptoms you experience should only last between five and seven days. However, some people do find that they last a bit longer.
You should begin to feel withdrawals within six to twelve hours after your last dose. Your symptoms should peak by the end of the second day, and they will most likely be mild at first. After the peak, you could notice some new symptoms that you didn’t have in the beginning. For example, you may feel like you have the flu, and your cravings may be intense.
After a week has gone by, many of your symptoms will disappear. However, it is possible for them to occur again, even weeks or months down the road. This is a phenomenon that’s quite typical for people going through opioid withdrawal.
The half-life of Oxymorphone can range between 9 and 11 hours. This means that it takes that long for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. It can take five or six half-lives before a substance is completely removed.
In animal studies, Oxymorphone stayed in the system for as long as five days. Even then, only about 90% of the metabolites had passed through. This drug can be detected in urine for two to four days. It can be found in hair tests for a much longer period of time.
Detoxing from Opana can help you get through the withdrawal process without as much discomfort. You may find that getting professional treatment allows you to avoid a lot of the more common symptoms.
A solid opioid detox program can effectively treat your withdrawals. You may begin by going through a medical taper of the drug. Your doctor will prescribe smaller amounts of the medication to you over time. This gives your body the chance to get used to having less of it.
After that, your medical team will probably utilize a few different approaches to your treatment. You may experience one or both of the following.
Medication assisted treatment is a form of detox that has been FDA approved for opioid addicts. It involves taking medications to help with withdrawal and the desire for the drug of choice.
There are several different drugs that have been approved for this purpose. They include:
These medications work the same way that Opana does, by attaching to the opioid receptors. This dramatically decreases the severity of withdrawal and many have experienced long-term recovery.
Almost everyone will benefit from a holistic program for detoxification as well. This approach doesn’t involve medications, but it focuses more on your overall health and quality of life.
The first step will be to meet with a nutritionist. They’ll talk with you about your diet to figure out if you have been getting your daily vitamins and minerals. Most people with addictions don’t, and they end up being undernourished, which is bad for your health. Your nutritionist will suggest a diet that will help you feel better. The food you eat will also help your body detox itself naturally.
As a part of holistic detox, you may also be placed on a new exercise program. Your body also detoxes itself through the pores of your skin when you sweat. When both of these components are combined, you’ll find that you feel better much faster.
There are other ways that you can manage your withdrawal symptoms. However, you should keep in mind that they’re not always very safe, and they’re never recommended.
You may be able to find drug detox kits online or at your local pharmacy. These kits sound like they would work well, but the results have yet to be proven. They aren’t FDA approved, which means that attempting them on your own is likely to be dangerous.
You may also read online that you can try various supplements and vitamins to help your body detox. Again, these methods haven’t been proven to be effective, and may also be dangerous.
At the very least, you should talk with your doctor about how you should proceed. Let them know that you want to get off Opana and ask for their advice. They will be able to guide you appropriately.
When you finish detoxing, you will probably be feeling like your old self again. You may even have a renewed “lease on life,” so to speak. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to get further treatment.
You will want to continue on to a drug rehab to get additional help for your Opana dependence. It’s absolutely essential to address the mental part of your addiction, and not just the physical part.
During rehab, you’ll participate in many types of therapy. You’ll work with a counselor one on one who will help you understand what caused your addiction. You’ll also have group sessions and other types of therapy as well. All of these will help you learn the coping skills you need to successfully recover. Remember, the goal is long-term recovery, and that can take some time.
It is our sincere hope that you don’t put off recovering from your Opana addiction any longer. The help you need is available to you, but it’s up to you to take that first step and reach out.
Here at Northpoint Recovery, we’ve worked with many people who were addicted to Opana and other opioids. We know how to treat this addiction. Our staff are all very caring and understanding, so they know the challenges you’re facing. They’re ready to stand beside you and fight for your recovery.