Opana (Oxymorphone) Overdose Risk

Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications, most of which are reserved for moderate to severe pain as well as the street drug heroin. Oxymorphone falls into the category of an opioid, and it’s prescribed not only to treat pain in certain situations but also before surgeries and procedures to alleviate anxiety on the part of the patient. Oxymorphone is considered a potent opioid medication. Until the summer of 2017, Opana ER was one of the most well-known brand-name versions of the drug. Opana ER was an extended-release version of oxymorphone. Extended-release opioids are frequently misused by people who crush the tablets to snort or inject them and achieve a rapid and strong high. The FDA asked the manufacturers of Opana ER to remove it from the marketplace because of the opioid epidemic. The manufacturers did, and now there are only generic versions of oxymorphone currently available.

When someone uses oxymorphone or any opioid, it activates opioid receptors. This can alter the sending of pain signals from the body to the brain. Opioids can also trigger a release of the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain and body. Dopamine causes a sense of euphoria or pleasant feelings. When the brain is exposed to something like oxymorphone that causes pleasant feelings, a reward and reinforcement cycle may begin which can lead to an addiction. Oxymorphone and other opioids are mostly Schedule II controlled substances in the U.S. This indicates the federal government’s view that prescription opioids have a significant potential for misuse, addiction and dependence and should be carefully regulated.

Oxymorphone can and does cause overdoses. Every day in the U.S. an average of more than 115 people die from opioid overdoses. This includes prescription drugs like oxymorphone. The massive number of opioid overdoses is one of the biggest public health and economic concerns in the U.S. currently. The rise of opioid overdose deaths started in the 1990s as pharmaceutical companies worked to sell doctors and the public on their products. These substances are now widely available and often diverted from medical use. There were more than 33,000 American deaths as the result of opioid overdoses in 2015 alone. These drugs cause overdoses because they slow breathing, and sometimes they can slow breathing so much that it stops altogether. People also might develop a tolerance to opioids like oxymorphone rather quickly, leading them to take larger doses to get desirable effects, and that can cause an overdose. Risk factors for an oxymorphone overdose include:

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Continuing to take it even when pain is no longer an issue
  • Taking it more often than instructed
  • Using oxymorphone without a prescription
  • Combining oxymorphone with alcohol
  • Using oxymorphone with other central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines
  • Using multiple opioids simultaneously
  • Detoxing from opioids and then reusing them (the person’s tolerance would likely be lower, which would make them more susceptible to an overdose)
  • Injecting or snorting opioids like oxymorphone
When someone is experiencing an oxymorphone overdose, the primary symptom that may be noticed is slow, shallow breathing or breathing that seems labored or breathing that is altogether stopped. However, this may not be the first symptom of an oxymorphone overdose, and it’s not likely to be the only symptom. Other signs and symptoms of an oxymorphone overdose can include:

  • Nonresponsive
  • Nodding off or losing consciousness
  • Tiny pinpoint pupils
  • Slow pulse
  • Irregular breathing
  • Lips or fingernails seem to be purple
  • Gurgling or snoring sounds
  • Awake but not able to talk
  • Limp body
  • Vomiting

If someone is displaying any signs or symptoms of an oxymorphone overdose, they need emergency medical care immediately. With opioids like oxymorphone, a reversal drug called naloxone can be administered, but it has to be done right away. Even if someone is given naloxone, they still need emergency medical care to prevent or treat any complications or damage that may have occurred. If someone is overdosing on oxymorphone and they don’t receive the appropriate emergency care, they may suffer brain damage, go into a coma or die.

Drug overdose can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Share on Social Media: