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Opana Addiction

Posted on February 2, 2013 in Prescription Drug Addiction

Opana AddictionOpana probably ranks among the top three of all abused prescription drugs in the United States, even though most people have never heard of it. As agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency put it, Opana is “trending rapidly” in many parts of the country. They know this is true because of the increase in deaths attributed to this drug, the increasing number of people entering residential treatment for Opana, and because the number of Opana prescriptions will be over a million this year alone, even though Opana has only been on the market since 2007.

The Opana trend is due to a change in the formulation of OxyContin, a powerful narcotic painkiller that is a chemical cousin of Opana and heroin. OxyContin was sold as pills, but addicts typically crushed them into a powder to be snorted through the nose or mixed with liquid and injected. Under pressure from the federal government and physicians, Purdue Pharmaceuticals reformulated OxyContin pills so they turn into goo when crushed, making it impossible to inject or snort the drug. It cakes in the nose and gets stuck in the teeth.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration approved the new formula in April 2010, prescriptions for Opana increased as those for OxyContin declined. Unfortunately, Opana is twice as strong as OxyContin and six to eight times stronger than morphine, which means it is extremely addictive and has some of most severe detrimental effects on the human body of all opioids when abused. Opana has been called “morphine on steroids” and the most dangerous drug of all time.

What Is Opana?

Opana is a powerful narcotic painkiller, classified by the government as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. This means it is among the most highly addictive of drugs with the strictest of regulations on it. The penalties for trafficking in Opana are among the most severe.

Oxymorphone, the active ingredient in Opana, is a semi-synthetic opioid made from both natural and manmade chemicals. Oxymorphone is more toxic than the natural opioid morphine, but less toxic than the fully synthetic ones like methadone.

Oxymorphone is 4,5a-epoxy-3,14-dihydroxy17-methylmorphinan-6-one. It appears as a white or slightly off-white, odorless powder that dissolves easily in water but is less soluble in alcohol or ether.

Endo Pharmaceuticals received approval from the Federal Food and Drug Administration to market Opana in June 2006. At the end of 2007, doctors had written over 268,000 Opana prescriptions, and in the year 2010, that number was up over 1.01 million.

How Is Opana Used Medically?

Opana is used to treat adults in moderate or severe chronic pain. It is not prescribed for occasional use or on an “as-needed” basis. Opana ER is extended release version of the drug with effects that can last up to 12 hours. Since some people have severe allergies to narcotics and can die the first time they take them, doctors usually introduce Opana on a gradual basis, starting with 5mg every four hours and then increasing it to the level at which their patients no longer feel pain.

Opana comes as octagon-shaped pills; the pink are 5 mg, orange, white, red and yellow are 10mg, 20 mg, 30mg and 40mg respectively.

Common side effects are similar to other narcotic drugs, and they might include euphoria, relaxation, loss of anxiety, constipation, cough suppression, slowing of respiration, and constricted pupils.

Other side effects might be headache, dry mouth, low blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, lightheadedness, slow heart beat, increased sweating, vomiting, and itching. Less common side effects are blurred vision, confusion, pounding in the ears, nervousness, sunken eyes, thirst, decreased urination, wheezing, chest pain, cough, insomnia, hallucinations, irritability, lethargy, mood swings, swollen eyelids and lips, rashes, and difficulty swallowing.

What Drugs Interact With Opana?

Opana interacts with many different medications, including all central nervous system depressants and alcohol. Any medicine that causes drowsiness interacts with Opana, including antihistamines, cold medicines, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. It also interacts with muscle relaxants, anesthetics (including those used by dentists) and many common drugs such as carisoprodol, chloral hydrate, Daltane, Demerol, etc.

Opana should not be taken by people with histories of drug abuse or alcoholism, Addison’s disease, breathing problems, underactive thyroids, mental illness, brain tumors, head injuries, liver or kidney diseases, gallbladder or prostrate problems, pancreatitis, low blood pressure or low blood volume, seizures, or certain intestinal problems.

Why Do People Abuse Opana?

Agents in drug enforcement believe that most people abuse Opana as a substitute for OxyContin. The euphoria that Opana produces does not last long as OxyContin, which in turn causes users to take more to maintain their “high.” Most people who abuse Opana do so because they are addicted. The original addiction might occur by chance, or as a way to cope with problems, to screen out anxiety, depression and boredom, and to create an inner world safe from the real world.

Street names for Opana are Blue Heaven, Blues, Mrs. O, New Blues, Octagons, Oranges, Orgasna IR, OM, Pink, biscuits, Pink Heaven, Pink Lady, Pink O, Stop Signs, and The O Bomb. The drug costs about $1 per milligram — in other words, a 30mg Opana is $30 and so forth. The Drug Enforcement Agency says that street dealers are getting their supplies through forged and fake prescriptions, robberies, and from large drug cartels.

Endo Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Opana, plans to develop a tamper-proof version of the drug in the near future.

Signs That You Are Addicted To Opana

If you can answer yes to two or more of these questions, you may consider consulting your family doctor for a referral for treatment for Opana abuse.

  • Are you using Opana more often and in greater amounts than you want to?
  • Are you using Opana along with alcohol or other drugs in order to increase its effects?
  • Do you use more than one doctor or pain clinic in order to obtain frequent prescriptions for Opana?
  • Are you buying Opana over the Internet?
  • Do you worry that you will be arrested or face legal challenges because of Opana?
  • Do you worry what will happen when you cannot obtain Opana or are unable to inject or crush it once it’s been reformulated?
  • Have your friends and family expressed concern that you do not seem yourself lately or that you are moody or withdrawn from them?
  • Are you using Opana to kill your appetite and maintain your weight?
  • Have you suffered from depression, social anxiety, childhood trauma, and/or do you have a history of drug abuse and alcoholism?
  • Have you driven a car or otherwise put your life in jeopardy while using Opana?
  • Is your performance at work or school falling off because of your drug use? Have you given up looking for work?
  • Do you think you spend too much time thinking about, obtaining, and using Opana?
  • Have you tried unsuccessfully to quit taking Opana?
  • Are you getting yourself into financial trouble or stealing because of your Opana abuse?
  • Do you criticize yourself because you are neglecting family, friends or certain activities because of your drug abuse?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headache and muscle aches, when you stop taking Opana?

Dangers Of Abusing Opana

The main danger of abusing Opana is addiction. The addicted lifestyle cuts into self-esteem, productivity, motivation, relationships, and achievement, and it shortens life span. One study found a typical opiate addict loses about $175 million over a lifetime in lost earnings. Research teams that followed narcotics addicts for 33 years found they had much shorter life expectancies than non-addicts.

The other greatest danger of abusing Opana is death from overdose. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking this drug, seek help from an emergency medical facility: severe slowing of breathing, sleepiness that goes into stupor or coma, muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin, reduced blood pressure and heart rate, and constricted pupils. In the most severe cases, the person will stop breathing and experience cardiac arrest or circulatory collapse, and then die.

Opioids affect the autonomous nervous system, which controls the beating of the heart, breathing, body temperature, urination, defecation, sexual response and other “automatic” bodily functions. The effect on breathing can increase the risk for pneumonia and other lung diseases. The side effects of “constipation” and “appetite suppression” can be devastating in that some long-term addicts prefer only carbohydrates and easily-digested foods, which in turn leads to malnutrition, impacted bowels and other intestinal problem. Drug addicts often develop severe skin abscesses and infections. Use of opioid painkillers increases your risk for accidents and injuries. Not being able to feel pain makes it harder for you to keep track of what’s wrong in your body. There is some evidence that using opioids like Opana may permanently decrease your ability to feel normal pleasures.

Treatments And Withdrawal From Opana Addiction

Withdrawal from Opana occurs when you stop using your drug, and it is similar to addictions to heroin, OxyContin, and other opioid drugs. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that Opana can produce some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms because the drug is so strong. How long you have been abusing Opana and how much you have been using as well as individual factors such as your weight and age all affect the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal is your body’s way of recovering from the effects of Opana. When you stop using Opana, you will experience flu-like symptoms in a time-line that lasts four to ten days. Weakness and fatigue, sweating, insomnia, yawning, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, fever, runny nose, and irregular heartbeat are common symptoms. These symptoms can be extremely difficult. One 25-year-old Opana addict said on the third and fourth days of withdrawal, he was curled up in a fetal position, unable to eat or leave his bed, and that he had pain in all his bones, joints, and muscles. He felt as everything was hopeless and that he was going to die. Withdrawing on your own like this is difficult, especially because you know all your problems can be solved by taking another Opana.

Medical professionals can ease the difficulty of withdrawal through various medications and techniques. Rapid detoxification methods involve rendering the person unconscious and using various opiate blocking drugs, but there is no evidence that this expensive technique reduces the time of withdrawal.

Addiction physicians typically prescribe the following drugs for Opana withdrawal syndrome: methocarbamol (muscle relaxant), thorazine (antipsychotic), clonidine (lowers blood pressure), and methadone (opioid replacement drug). Suboxone is the newest prescription used for opioid withdrawal, but doctors need specialized training to prescribe it because it is so problematic to use as a combination of both narcotic and narcotic-blocker. Suboxone can be effective in reducing drug cravings.

Once the acute stage of withdrawal is complete, most Opana addicts will enter a “protracted withdrawal syndrome” that can last for weeks, months or even years. The person may feel anxious and unable to sleep. There is an inability to feel pleasure along with deep cravings for Opana. Executive brain functions such as impulse control may be impaired. Residential treatment centers can provide the support needed to get through this period. Through psychotherapy, a person can learn to be realistic about how long recovery may take, to be patient with the process, and to celebrate every achievement in recovery along the way. Learning how to relax through yoga, art, and other techniques can be helpful, as well as setting new goals for relationships and career. Most addicts have undiagnosed psychiatric conditions such as depression and attention deficit disorder that need to be addressed within separate treatment protocols.


Oxymorphone,”  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Diversion see

Goodnough, Abby and Katie Zezima. “Drug Is Harder to Use but Users Persevere,” the New York Times. June 15, 2011.

Riley, Karen. FDA Approves New Formulation for OxyContin, April 10, 2010, FDA Press Release, see

Goodnough, Abby and Katie Zezima. “Drug Is Harder to Use but Users Persevere,” the New York Times. June 15, 2011.

Murphy, Renee. “Addicts Claim Opana Drove Them to Unthinkable Acts, Deaths from Drug Use Rising,” WHAS11-TV, February 6, 2012, see

“Opana,” Drug Intelligence Report, Philadelphia Division, U.S. Department of Justice, May 2011, see

“Oxymorphone,”  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Diversion see


“Opana,” Endo pharmaceuticals, see

“Opana Pill Identifier,”, see

“Oxymorphone,”  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Diversion see

“Opana,” Drug Intelligence Report, Philadelphia Division, U.S. Department of Justice, May 2011, see

“Opana,” Endo pharmaceuticals, see

“Oxymorphone (Oral Route),” Mayo Clinic, see



“Opana,” Drug Intelligence Report, Philadelphia Division, U.S. Department of Justice, May 2011, see

“Oxymorphone,”  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Diversion see

Murphy, Renee. “Addicts Claim Opana Drove Them to Unthinkable Acts, Deaths from Drug Use Rising,” WHAS11-TV, February 6, 2012, see

Smyth B, Fan J, Hser YI. Life expectancy and productivity loss among narcotics addicts thirty-three years after index treatment. J Addict Dis. 2006;25(4):37-47.

“Oxymorphone,”  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of Diversion see

“Overview of the Automatic Nervous System,” The Merck Medical Manual, see

Dublin, Sascha, et al. Use of Opioids or Benzodiazepines and Risk of Pneumonia in Older Adults: A Population-Based Case–Control Study, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 59, Issue 10. September 13, 2011.

Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory,” The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, July 10, 2010, see

“Opiate Withdrawal,” National Institute of Health, see

Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory,” The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, July 10, 2010, see

Opiate Withdrawal,” National Institute of Health, see

For this and similar anecdotes, see various drug forum websites about Opana.

“Opiate Withdrawal,”, see

“Opiate Withdrawal Medications,”, see

“Suboxone,” Manufacturer’s website see

Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory,” The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, July 10, 2010, see


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