If you’ve ever listened closely to prescription drug commercials, they often include warnings regarding mixing grapefruit juice with certain medicines. You may wonder why that is, and it’s because grapefruit juice contains a chemical called a potentiator.
Below is an overview of what potentiators are in general, and also the dangers of using oxycodone potentiators.
Oxycodone travels to the brain where it binds to opioid receptors, triggering a flood of dopamine. This creates a feeling of euphoria, particularly when oxycodone is taken at high doses.
Oxycodone has less desirable side effects as well, even when used as instructed. Some of these include constipation, nausea, vomiting and feeling drowsy or lightheaded.
Opioids, in general, are highly addictive because of how they affect and ultimately change the brain, and this addictiveness has fueled what’s now being called the opioid epidemic in the U.S.
It’s not just addiction that’s a danger with opioids. These drugs also depress the activity of the central nervous system, and that includes respiration. If someone takes a dose of an opioid that is too high, they’re at risk of overdosing, meaning their breathing slows or stops altogether.
Many chemicals are known to potentiate opioids, which will be detailed below.
- Grapefruit juice is one of the most well-known oxycodone potentiators. It blocks enzymes responsible for metabolizing opioids. This means that when someone combines grapefruit juice and opioids, it increases the concentration that’s available in the body, and also the duration of the effects of an opioid. When someone combines oxycodone and grapefruit juice, it not only increases the amount of oxycodone available in the blood, but it can also cause respiratory failure, bleeding, and sudden death. The effects of grapefruit juice can be dangerous even hours after oxycodone is taken.
- It’s not only grapefruit juice that’s dangerous as an oxycodone potentiator. Some types of oranges can have a similar effect, as can limes and types of orange marmalade.
- Cimetidine is an anti-allergy drug that occupies certain enzymes which are responsible for metabolizing opioids. Since the enzymes which would normally metabolize the opioid are focusing on the cimetidine, the opioid does not degrade as quickly, which means that it lasts in the body for a longer time than normal.
- Diphenhydramine, which is more commonly known as BenadrylⓇ, inhibits histamine. This then increases the mood-related properties of opioids.
- Valerian and St. John’s Wort are sometimes used along with opioids to increase their effects.
Some people purposely try to potentiate oxycodone and other opioids as they abuse the drugs, in order to get a more intense high.
Even riskier is when people combine potentiators and opioids that are taken through alternative routes of administration, for even greater effects. For example, some people might take oxycodone rectally to increase the effects, and then combine them with a potentiator.
It’s not just substances like grapefruit juice that are considered potentiators, either.
People may combine opioids with something like benzodiazepines or alcohol to increase the effects.
Anytime you’re using an oxycodone potentiator to increase how the drug affects you outside of a doctor’s instructions, it’s considered drug abuse.
Grapefruit juice and oxycodone are two substances that should never be used together because the juice increases the concentration of oxycodone in the body, which is why grapefruit juice is described as a potentiator.
There are other oxycodone potentiators to be aware of as well, and it’s important to know what these are because combining any opioid with a potentiator puts you at a greater risk of overdose and death. It also makes it more likely you will become addicted to the drug you’re abusing.
If you or a loved one live with addiction or are using drugs recreationally and want to stop, The Recovery Village® can help. Reach out to one of our representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.