Prescription medications, including prescription opioids, serve a purpose in treating pain and helping patients recover from procedures such as surgery. When those drugs are abused, though, they can create serious problems and can even have fatal consequences. Understanding the difference between fentanyl vs oxycodone, including how addictive each can be, is important for your health and well-being.
Legal and Illegal Opioids
Some opioids are available legally, by prescription, for the treatment of pain. Those include oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine. However, there are many illegal opioids including heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.
If not taken appropriately, even prescription drugs can cause serious issues for someone who misuses them or abuses them. Synthetic opioid are especially dangerous. In 2019, more overdose deaths were caused by synthetic opioids than any other opioid, including heroin. In fact, synthetics accounted for 73% of all opioid-involved deaths, which totaled 70,630.
The opioid epidemic began in the 1990s in the US, with a significant increase in the prescribing of opioids. When people became addicted, they began to use heroin as a cheaper and more readily available drug. The epidemic now includes an increase in the availability of counterfeit pills, which are even more dangerous.
Pills manufactured illegally are made to look like those opioids prescribed legally to treat pain or anxiety. The counterfeit pills are sold by drug dealers and look like oxycodone as well as Xanax, Percocet, and similar drugs. Synthetic fentanyl is usually the active ingredient in these counterfeits, which have led to increased overdoses and deaths across the US. In the western part of the country, there was a 67% increase in death rates related to counterfeit opioids from 2018 to 2019.
Counterfeit pills can look just like oxycodone in their shape, color, size, and even the markings on the pill. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found that 27% of pills seized across the country in 2019 contained potentially lethal doses of fentanyl.
Fentanyl vs Oxycodone
Oxycodone is a legal prescription medication, often used to relieve a patient’s pain after surgery. It is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic which has legitimate benefits when used appropriately. Oxycodone has a high potential for abuse, however, because of the feelings of euphoria and relaxation it can create in an individual. Its negative effects can include respiratory depression, constipation, and, when containing acetaminophen, severe liver damage.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Although it is available through a legitimate prescription, used legally to treat severe pain and occasionally chronic pain. It is also made and used illegally and is commonly mixed with other drugs when sold by drug dealers, so that it is cheaper and easier to obtain. Synthetic fentanyl made illegally in labs is sold as a powder, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into counterfeit pills.
When fentanyl is cut with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, it can become even more dangerous for the user who doesn’t realize what is in the pill or powder they are taking. An individual who is not used to the powerful drug is especially vulnerable and is more likely to overdose.
Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are now the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the US. The percentage of opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl increased from 14.3% in 2010 to 59% in 2017.
A person who overdoses on fentanyl will experience slowed or stopped breathing. This decreases the amount of oxygen that is transmitted to the brain, which results in hypoxia. The condition can lead to coma and permanent brain damage and can be fatal.
Oxycodone and fentanyl are addictive substances and have high potential for abuse. Opioids work by binding to the brain’s receptors that control emotions and pain. After taking the opioid frequently, an individual’s brain will adapt to the drug, which diminishes its sensitivity. The individual will begin to have difficulty finding pleasure from anything other than the opioid. Drug seeking and using will take over their lives in their addiction.
Contact Recovery Without Walls for Prescription Drug Help
At Recovery Without Walls, we understand that it can be difficult and even dangerous to stop abusing drugs, including fentanyl and oxycodone, without help. We are here to guide you through safe and effective withdrawal from illegal opioids and legitimate prescriptions. We personalize your treatment based on evidence-informed research, exceptional psychotherapy, nutritional support, and integrative healing methods designed to treat your whole body. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.