Opana is a brand name for the opioid medication oxymorphone.
Similar drugs include heroin, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and many others.
Oxymorphone is a controlled substance that is classified at the highest level of drugs that can be obtained legally with a prescription from a physician (Schedule II).
Drugs in this classification are prescribed for medical reasons, but they are identified as having a serious potential for abuse and likely to produce physical or psychological dependence in people who take them for more than a few weeks.
According to MedlinePlus, Opana is primarily prescribed for the treatment of chronic pain or pain that occurs following a surgical procedure. Its uses include:
In some cases, physicians may prescribe it for off-label uses, but given the status of this medication and the current opioid epidemic in this country, Opana use for any other reason other than to control severe pain or the above situations would be very rare.
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Yes, there is an extended-release form, Opana ER; however, in 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked the manufacturer of Opana (Endo Pharmaceuticals) to recall the medication and no longer make it available. The extended-release form of Opana was available in doses that were potentially dangerous when the drug was abused (see below), and this is the reason the FDA asked for the drug to be discontinued.
The extended-release form of Opana is no longer being manufactured, but there may be generic and other versions of extended-release oxymorphone on the market. Opana IR (immediate-release) remains available in 5 mg (milligrams) and 10 mg pills.
According to MedlinePlus and The Complete Guide to Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs, the effects of using Opana (oxymorphone) include:
The analgesic effects of the drug will most often last between three and four hours with medicinal doses.
All medications have a side-effect profile. In most cases, the side effects of Opana are relatively rare or can be alleviated rather easily, especially when the drug is taken at medicinal doses and under the supervision of the physician.
When people abuse opiate drugs like Opana, they typically take far larger doses than would be prescribed and use it at more frequent intervals. This can result in serious side effects. According to the above sources and The Essence of Analgesia and Analgesics:
Rarer and potentially more dangerous side effects can occur.
As mentioned above, anyone taking Opana for more than a few weeks may develop a physical dependence on the drug, even if the drug is used for medical reasons.
When a person uses Opana under a doctor’s supervision and according to its prescribed instructions, they may develop a physical dependence on the drug if they use it for an extended time. This is not a significant issue for a person who uses the drug medicinally while being treated by a physician. The physician can slowly taper down the dosage of the drug when it is time for the person to stop using it.
Individuals who abuse opiate drugs will develop far more severe withdrawal symptoms, and these symptoms will typically result in their abuse of the drug worsening. This can lead to a downward cycle of using more and more of the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to a more-serious physical dependence.
The FDA’s decision to have the extended-release version of Opana removed from the market is a result of the significant abuse of the extended-release version. Because the dosages in the extended-release version are higher, and individuals were grinding up the drugs and snorting or injecting the medication, there was an increased risk of overdoses when Opana ER was being abused.
The major symptoms of an overdose on any opiate include:
Other symptoms can include slurred speech, confusion, irritability, poor motor coordination, decreased heart rate, severe nausea, and vomiting.
Yes. A person’s breathing can completely stop, or they can choke if they throw up.
There are no accurate figures on the abuse of Opana, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases yearly reports on the use and misuse of numerous drugs. The misuse of a drug refers to a person using the drug in a manner that is not in accordance with its prescribed purposes and can be used as a potential gauge to determine the number of individuals reporting abuse of a particular type of substance.
According to the latest information provided by SAMHSA:
Those who abuse the drug may take numerous pills orally, or they may grind up the pills and snort them or inject them after they mix them with a solution such as water. When people grind up the pills and snort or inject them, the drug is delivered much more quickly into the bloodstream than when they take the drug in pill form orally. There are also significant risks associated with snorting or injecting Opana.
According to Lowinson and Ruiz’s Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, snorting ground-up pills can lead to additional risks.
Chronic runny nose
According to the text Neuropathology of Drug Addictions and Substance Misuse Volume 1: Foundations of Understanding, Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabinoids and Opioids, injecting opiates like Opana can lead to additional potential risks such as:
Numerous other problems can occur, including damage to the organs such as the liver, kidneys, and even the brain.
Yes. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), having any form of a substance use disorder is associated with an increased risk of having some other type of mental health disorder.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the abuse of any opiate drug, including Opana, requires professional treatment from physicians, therapists, counselors, and other mental health professionals. According to the APA and numerous other sources, the general approach to addressing an individual with an opiate use disorder will include:
NIDA reports that medical detox is a process where the withdrawal syndrome is addressed by a physician. Typically, the physician will administer a medication such as Suboxone to control the withdrawal symptoms from Opana once the person stops using the drug. Then, the physician will lower the dose of the drug at specific intervals over time to wean the person off the drug. This allows the person to start treatment without experiencing withdrawal symptoms that can lead to an increased potential to relapse on Opana.
No. According to the APA and NIDA, individuals in recovery must continue with treatment following the medical detox process if they are to successfully recover from their substance use disorder.
According to NIDA, behavioral interventions include nonmedical interventions, such as substance use disorder therapy, support groups like 12-step groups, and other types of interventions that do not use medicines. These are the cornerstone of the treatment for any substance use disorder. Therapy can be provided in group or individual sessions, or the person can attend both group and individual sessions.
Treatment for any substance use disorder is a long-term proposition. In general, individuals will remain in therapy and support groups for years after they have become abstinent from their drug of choice. The longer a person remains in therapy, the better their outlook is.
Yes. According to the APA and NIDA, although many individuals may experience a relapse in the course of their recovery, treatment providers will often consider relapses as learning experiences that can be used to guide the individual to long-term success. Ultimately, people who get treatment have much higher long-term success rates than those who don’t.
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(March 2018). Oxymorphone. Medline Plus. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a610022.html
(July 2017). Opioid Rotation from Opana ER Following FDA Call for Removal. Practical Pain Management. from https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/treatments/pharmacological/opioids/opioid-rotation-opana-er-following-fda-call-removal
(October 2018). Opiate Overdose. StatPearls Internet. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470415/
(October 2018). Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.pdf
(January 2018). Principles of Effective Treatment. National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.google.com/search?q=NIDA+prinicpples+of+effective+treatment&rlz=1C1EJFA_enUS679US679&oq=NIDA+prinicpples+of+effective+treatment+&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60.8023j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8