Updated on March 20, 2024
8 min read

Can Opana Be Addictive?

Dealing with severe pain can be difficult, no matter the circumstance—especially when regular pain medication just isn’t working. Opana (oxymorphone) is an opioid analgesic that’s often a go-to for those whose pain still cannot be adequately controlled by other medications.

If you’re worried that your pain can’t be managed, you can talk to your doctor about Opana. However, it’s important to understand that Opana is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

You need to be very careful and honest about your Opana usage if you’re getting it prescribed, and only take it according to your doctor’s instructions. With responsible use, you can manage your pain properly without putting yourself at risk for addiction.

Is Opana Addictive?

Because Opana is an opioid, it blocks pain and often encourages increased levels of dopamine, which feels pleasurable. Many people get hooked on this pleasurable feeling and become dependent. They start to abuse the drug to replicate that rush of euphoria, creating an unhealthy cycle of addiction.

Opana use is considered illicit or abusive when taken without a prescription or misused to achieve a feeling of intense happiness (euphoria).

Some examples of Opana abuse include:1

  • Chewing the pill to enhance drug release
  • Crushing the tablet and snorting the powder
  • Dissolving the drug in water and injecting the solution
  • Taking the drug with alcohol or other substances
  • Taking the drug without a doctor’s prescription

If you or a loved one are currently on Opana and are either misusing the drug or taking it without any medical prescription, talk to your doctor right away. You may need to detox and get off the drug or have your use tapered to keep you safe.

What are the Risks of Opana Addiction?

Opana addiction is dangerous, as it usually means a person’s developed a tolerance for the drug. This means you'll need to take Opana at a higher dosage or frequency to experience the same level of pain relief if you still need to take it.

This can become expensive very quickly, as well as frustrating if you can’t get relief from your pain. Opana addiction can also lead to other risks, such as:3,4,8

  • A potentially fatal overdose
  • Clinically significant drug interactions
  • Adverse side effects 
  • Painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms
  • The use of more potent opioids
  • Developing infections and diseases from injecting the drug

The best way to avoid these risks is to take your medication as prescribed and only if they are for you. Don’t take someone else’s medication, and never take them in ways they aren’t supposed to be administered.

What Are the Side Effects of Opana?

Addiction can exacerbate the side effects people experience from Opana. These side effects will vary depending on the person and whether they took the immediate-release (IR) formula or the extended-release (ER) formula (for around-the-clock pain).

Some of these side effects include:1,2,5,6,7

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Sedation or unusual sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal or chest pain

Opana may also cause less common side effects, including:1,5,6,7

  • Respiratory depression
  • Allergic reactions
  • Euphoria
  • Dysphoria
  • Agitation
  • Hallucination
  • Slow or fast heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Miosis (contraction of pupils)
  • Central nervous system (CNS) depression
  • Low oxygen in tissues
  • Ileus (non-mechanical bowel obstruction)
  • Hot flashes
  • Urinary retention

If you’re experiencing any symptoms after taking Opana, make sure you reach out to your healthcare provider. We encourage being honest with your provider about how much of the medication you’ve taken so they can give more effective help.

Signs of Opana Addiction

Opana addiction is typically characterized by a loss of control or excessive cravings for the drug.10 Those who become addicted to Opana will continue to use it despite any harmful side effects.

Specific signs that may indicate Opana addiction include:

  • Frequently “losing” prescriptions
  • Returning to the doctor for early refills
  • Seeing different doctors to get more medication
  • Buying the drug from friends or strangers
  • Lying or exaggerating an injury to get a prescription
  • Stealing from family or friends to get drugs
  • Crushing, chewing, or dissolving the drug
  • Repeatedly requesting a dosage increase
  • Dismissing non-opioid treatments
  • An inability to stop taking the drug after multiple unsuccessful attempts
  • Increased pain due to drug tolerance
  • Prioritizing drug use above family, friends, work, or school
  • Experiencing financial difficulties caused by drug use
  • Displaying symptoms like breathing problems, drowsiness, and changes in sleeping habits

Someone who has a substance use disorder may not display these signs immediately. Only healthcare professionals can diagnose Opana addiction precisely.

They'll use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria for diagnosing a substance use disorder.


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Symptoms of Opana Overdose

Symptoms of Opana overdose are the same as any opioid overdose. They include:1,5,6

  • Respiratory depression
  • Unusual sleepiness, leading to unconsciousness or coma
  • Decreased responsiveness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Pale or bluish lips, fingernails, or skin
  • Miosis (contraction of pupils)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

If you or someone you know is experiencing an Opana overdose, call 911 and seek medical help immediately. Certain overdose side effects like cardiac arrest and irregular heartbeat require advanced life support techniques.1,5,6

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Opana Withdrawal Symptoms

People may develop withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop or reduce their Opana intake, especially if they’ve developed an addiction. They may continue tapered drug use under medical supervision to avoid uncomfortable symptoms, which include:1,5,6,7

  • Severe drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Mood changes
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Hypertension
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Babies may experience neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome if their mothers use Opana during pregnancy. These babies usually require medical treatment for several weeks.9

Treatment for Opana Addiction 

In emergency cases, medical professionals will typically administer a rescue medication like naloxone or nalmefene to reverse life-threatening respiratory depression. They may also supply oxygen and other supportive measures in case of circulatory shock or fluid build-up in the lungs.

Treatment approaches for Opana addiction are similar to those of other opioid treatments. They include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Detoxing in a medically assisted detox center is the safest treatment for Opana addiction. Home detox (without professional help) is dangerous and unlikely to be successful. It can also lead to fatal consequences.

Medications used for opioid treatment include:11

  • Methadone: An opioid agonist that activates opioid receptors but doesn’t produce euphoria
  • Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist that can reduce or remove withdrawal symptoms
  • Naltrexone: A synthetic opioid antagonist that blocks the euphoric effect of any opioid 
  • Lofexidine: A non-opioid prescription medicine that can reduce withdrawal symptoms

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments are designed to change people’s attitudes and behaviors concerning drug use. It also assists people in developing healthy life skills.

These treatments help people stay the course in taking their medications or following other treatment plans. They can occur in an outpatient or inpatient setting.

Outpatient Treatment

In an outpatient setting, the person regularly visits a counselor. Counseling can be done individually, as a group, or both.

Outpatient programs typically offer:12

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient or residential treatment is better for people with more severe substance use disorders. Examples include:13

  • Therapeutic communities: Highly structured programs where people stay in residence for six to 12 months
  • Shorter-term residential treatment: Focuses on detoxification, initial counseling, and preparation for community-based treatment
  • Recovery housing: Designed to help people transition to an independent life

There is nothing shameful about getting treatment or support for your addiction. They are necessary steps for you to bounce back and live safely and healthily.

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How to Prevent Opana Addiction

Prevention is often better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent Opana addiction:

  • Educate patients and providers: Inform people of risks and encourage safe medication practices. Providers should follow prescribing guidelines and utilize PDMPs.
  • Promote safe use and disposal: You should take Opana only as prescribed and dispose of unused medication safely.
  • Identify at-risk individuals: Screen patients for risk factors and tailor pain management plans accordingly.
  • Offer support: Provide medication-assisted treatment and counseling for high-risk individuals.
  • Foster community support: Educate communities about addiction and encourage support for those struggling.
  • Regulate and develop alternatives: Support FDA actions, consider abuse-deterrent formulations, and promote non-opioid pain management.

Remember that avoiding situations where you are taking Opana without any medical prescription or misusing it is the best way to prevent addiction altogether. Without any illicit use, you are less likely to develop any kind of addiction.

If you’re worried about your potential for developing an addiction, talk to your doctor. You may uncover a family history of substance abuse or be vulnerable to misusing substances. Your doctor may find other solutions for you.


Opana is an opioid used for pain relief. While some versions of Opana are still available,  has a high rate of abuse. Improper use of Opana can result in addiction, along with other long-term health risks. 

Seek professional help immediately if you think that you or a loved one is addicted to Opana. There are also different ways to prevent Opana addiction.

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Updated on March 20, 2024
12 sources cited
Updated on March 20, 2024
  1. OXYMORPHONE.” Drug Enforcement Administration, 2019. 
  2. Babalonis et al. “Pharmacodynamic effects of oral oxymorphone: abuse liability, analgesic profile and direct physiologic effects in humans.” Addiction Biology, 2015
  3. Wolf, L. “FDA takes aim at opioid epidemic.” C&EN. American Chemical Society, 2017. 
  4. Dreisbach, T. “Dangers Of Opana Opioid Painkiller Outweigh Benefits, FDA Panel Says.” NPR, 2017.
  5. Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride) tablets label.” Endo Pharmaceuticals, 2012. 
  6. Oxymorphone.” MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  7. Thornton, P. “Opana.” Drugs.com, 2021.
  8. Opioid addiction.” MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, 2020.
  9. About Opioid Use During Pregnancy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  10. Signs of Opioid Abuse.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. 
  11. What are prescription opioids?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2021.
  12. Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019.

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