Opana (oxymorphone) is a synthetic opiate or narcotic medication that is primarily designed for the medicinal use of pain control. It is an extremely potent medication and available in immediate-release and extended-release versions. The immediate-release versions contain either 5 mg or 10 mg of oxymorphone, and the extended-release versions contain doses of oxymorphone that range from 5 mg to 40 mg. There is also an injectable formulation that is most often used in hospitals and clinics.
Oxymorphone is a Schedule II controlled substance as classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This indicates that the drug does have important medical uses but it is also highly prone to being abused and likely to result in physical dependence in people who use the drug over a prolonged period of time.
Abuse of Opana
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other sources, the abuse of prescription medications, particularly narcotic medications, is a serious problem in the United States. Abusing narcotic medications is associated with numerous adverse health issues and the development of emotional problems, including the development of a substance use disorder.
People who abuse opioid drugs like Opana often attempt to take the drug in a manner that is inconsistent with its intended administration. The drug is intended to be taken orally, and abusers can certainly take it in this manner; however, some drug abusers attempt to grind up opiate drugs and then snort them or mix them with water and inject them. The practice of snorting or injecting drugs in this manner can be extremely dangerous.
Opana was one of the opiate drugs that eventually included abuse-deterrent technology to discourage individuals from snorting it. The drug is covered with a hard shell that makes it difficult to crush and grind, and the extended-release version was designed to become gel-like when crushed. This led to the drug being more difficult to snort but easier to inject. In addition, drug abusers are often very resourceful, and this type of abuse-deterrent mechanism has been bypassed by many serious abusers as a result of their significant need to use their drug of choice.
Dangers of Snorting Opana
Some specific dangers of snorting Opana include:
- Damage to the nasal septum (the cartilage that divides the nostrils in the nose)
- Sores, ulcers, or even perforations in the nasal septum
- Chronic nosebleeds
- Irritation of the mucous membranes in the nose
- Sinusitis, which is a nasal infection that can result in the experience of pain in the face, headaches, nasal congestion, and chronic runny nose
- Issues with swallowing
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Damage to the lungs
Specific Dangers of Injecting Opana
People who chronically abuse drugs by injecting them are increasing the risk of developing numerous health issues that can include:
- Puncture marks or track lines on their skin
- Collapsed, blocked, or inflamed veins
- Skin infections that can include abscesses and necrotizing fasciitis (sometimes referred to as “the flesh-eating disease” which occurs under the skin)
- A risk of developing other infections, such as tetanus or even gangrene
- Numerous cardiovascular infections or conditions that can include endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valve) or other infections
- Issues with blood flow that can lead to swelling in the extremities, particularly in the legs and feet
- A risk of developing blood-borne infections as a result of needle-sharing that can include serious infections, such as hepatitis or HIV
- Infections or damage to important organs, including the kidneys, liver, heart, and brain (The effects of blood-borne diseases may also leave one more susceptible to respiratory issues.)
Other Significant Issues Associated with Snorting or Injecting Opana
In addition to the above dangers that are most commonly associated with either snorting or injecting drugs like Opana, there are a number of common risks that are associated with either method of administration.
- Because administering the drugs in either manner results in a more effective way for the drugs to enter the person’s system, snorting or injecting drugs increases the risk of overdose, particularly for individuals who snort or inject extended-release versions of Opana. Overdose on any opiate drug can be potentially fatal due to respiratory depression.
- People who snort or inject drugs will also develop tolerance to them far more rapidly. The development of tolerance results in individuals using more and more of the drug to get the effects once achieved at lower doses, and this, of course, can lead to serious issues with overdose or other issues.
- People who snort or inject opiate drugs like Opana are more likely to develop physical dependence on them (expressing both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms). The development of physical dependence in a person who abuses drugs often results in the person intensifying their drug abuse to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This can result in the increased potential to develop issues with physical and emotional health as well as increased overdose potential.
- Snorting or injecting Opana results in increased potential to develop a formal substance use disorder (in this case, an opiate use disorder). Individuals with opiate use disorders have very serious psychological disturbances, signified by difficulty controlling their drug use, serious ramifications associated with their drug use, and spiraling declines in emotional and physical health. These individuals need professional intervention to treat their substance use disorder.
Because individuals who snort or inject prescription medications often develop significant substance use disorders, they are also at risk for being diagnosed with other mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, trauma and stressor-related disorders, and other psychological disorders. These individuals are also more prone to developing problems with personal relationships, at work, in their career goals and education, and with their finances. They are also more likely to experience legal issues due to their drug use.
The abuse of Opana has potential serious consequences regardless of whether it is taken orally, snorted, or injected. However, people who abuse the drug by snorting or injecting it increase the risk of experiencing serious emotional and physical issues compared to individuals who abuse it orally. Any person who abuses Opana should seek a consultation with a licensed mental health professional.