Oxycodone, a potent opioid, causes euphoria and intense feelings of calm and relaxation that may lead to abuse and addiction. Treatment may include medications to help reduce drug cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.

Oxycodone Abuse, Addiction & Treatment

Abusing oxycodone increases the risk of dependence and addiction. Oxycodone addiction can be dangerous because high doses may lead to respiratory depression, or breathing problems, the main cause of death during an overdose. Treatment for oxycodone addiction can include a combination of medications and behavioral therapy to give a person the best chances for recovery.

What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. As a narcotic pain reliever and schedule II controlled substance, oxycodone is prescribed with caution because of its high potential for abuse. In most cases, oxycodone is used to treat pain in people who require around the clock relief.

Oxycodone Abuse, Addiction & Treatment Opioid Prescribed To Treat Moderate

Oxycontin is the brand name for oxycodone, but several other medications contain oxycodone along with acetaminophen or aspirin, including Percocet, Percodan, and Roxicet.

Oxycodone is available for prescription in tablet form but can be abused by crushing the tablet and snorting the powder or dissolving the tablet in liquid and injecting it. The drug can also be abused orally, or by heating up the tablet and inhaling the vapors.

Oxycodone abuse also occurs when a person takes another person’s prescription or takes more oxycodone than directed or for the purpose of getting high. Bought and sold illegally on the street, oxycodone goes by several names including:

  • hillbilly heroin
  • kicker
  • oc
  • ox
  • oxy
  • perc
  • roxy

While oxycodone can be effective to treat pain, abuse is common because it produces intense feelings of euphoria (feel-good feelings). When a person takes oxycodone to get high, they’ll likely show several signs and symptoms of abuse.

Signs And Symptoms Of Oxycodone Abuse

A person high on oxycodone may appear off-balance, drowsy, and sedated. They may struggle with coordination and seem confused, potentially neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school.

Overusing oxycodone can cause an increase in side effects, a clear sign of abuse.

Common side effects may include:

  • blushed skin
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • a headache
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • scratchy voice
  • stomach pain
  • weakness

Abusing oxycodone for long periods of time can cause more serious symptoms that may require medical attention. Long-term symptoms may include heart problems, swelling of body parts, and muscle pain and stiffness. In some cases, oxycodone abuse may cause fever, sweating, shivering, and a fast heartbeat.

Because oxycodone produces intense feelings of relaxation and euphoria, a person may crave the drug to feel good, doing whatever they can to get high. They may show further signs of drug-seeking behavior, including compulsively using it, showing a lack of control relating to it, and continuing to use it despite harm to themselves or others.

Spotting any signs and symptoms of abuse can be a crucial step towards receiving treatment. Treatment can help prevent a person from experiencing some of the dangers of oxycodone abuse and addiction.

The Dangers Of Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

Oxycodone abuse can lead to serious health problems, especially when taken with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium). These substances all slow down brain activity, and mixing them can cause extreme sedation, coma, and life-threatening breathing problems.

Breathing problems are the main cause of death during an overdose. Overdose occurs when a person takes too much oxycodone, either on purpose or by accident. The risk of overdose is significantly increased when a person uses oxycodone with alcohol or other substances.

Symptoms of oxycodone overdose may include:

  • cold and clammy skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • excessive sleepiness
  • limp muscles
  • loss of consciousness (coma)
  • pinpoint pupils

If a person shows any signs of oxycodone overdose, 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately. First responders may administer an opioid reversal medication called naloxone, which can save a life by reversing the deadly effects of an overdose. If left untreated, an overdose may result in death.

Although the risk of overdose is increased when a person becomes addicted to oxycodone, stopping use can be difficult. Once the brain develops a dependence to oxycodone, a person will experience painful symptoms of withdrawal when they stop use.

Oxycodone Withdrawal And Detox

Drug dependence means the brain has become used to having oxycodone in the system. Stopping use means the brain and body go through a period of adjustment that can cause sickness, pain, and discomfort. Withdrawal can also make a person seem irritated, annoyed, and dissatisfied.

Symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may include:

  • anxiety
  • chills
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep)
  • muscle pain/aches
  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • a runny nose
  • sweating
  • watery eyes
  • weakness

Withdrawal can onset within 12 hours after last use and may last for up to a week or longer. Because symptoms can be painful and uncomfortable, a strong support system is necessary to avoid further drug use. To ensure a person doesn’t use drugs to self-medicate, a medically supervised detoxification, or detox, program can provide support and care during the worst of withdrawal.

A medically supervised detox program takes places in a professional medical setting, like a hospital or inpatient treatment center. Staff is likely to monitor a person’s progress, provide support and comfort, and administer medications when necessary.

Although a common first step in recovery, a medically supervised detox program is not a cure for addiction. Further treatment should be implemented immediately following detox and may be most effective at the same location as the detox program, like staying at an inpatient treatment center that offers both.

Treatment Options For Oxycodone Abuse And Addiction

Treating oxycodone addiction may include a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. Currently, there a three government approved medications used for treating oxycodone and other opioid addiction: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Although each medication works a bit differently, they may be used during a detox program to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, reduce drug cravings during treatment, and work to prevent relapse in the future.

Because of how oxycodone interacts with the brain, medications are effective for helping a person engage in treatment. The use of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, has shown to help people remain in therapy for the duration treatment. Along with medications, therapy is a crucial element to treating addiction.

Behavioral therapy is the most common form of addiction treatment and works to change a person’s thinking and attitudes towards drugs. By focusing on how to live healthy lifestyles, therapy aims to help people understand they don’t need drugs to live life to the fullest, teaching them how to successfully manage stressful situations to prevent relapse.

Inpatient treatment, or residential rehab, may be a good fit for people suffering from oxycodone addiction. With 24/7, around the clock medical care, a peaceful environment, and access to medications and behavioral therapy, inpatient treatment may provide all the essentials a person needs to engage in treatment and achieve a balanced life in recovery.

Call now for more information on oxycodone abuse, addiction, and treatment.


Drug Enforcement Administration—Drugs of Abuse: Oxycodone

MedlinePlus—Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal


National Institute on Drug Abuse—Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction