Oxycodone Effects, Overdose, and Withdrawal Symptoms – Oxycodone is a prescription opioid painkiller that works by altering how the brain interprets pain. It is prescribed to treat moderate-severe pain, and commonly found under the brand names OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, and Percodan.
Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. This indicates that it has an accepted medical purpose, but also has a high potential for abuse and can lead to chemical and psychological dependence.
Oxycodone is most often found in pill form (with immediate and extended-release formulation) and is often combined with other drugs such as acetaminophen (e.g., Percocet). It is also occasionally administered in liquid form (Oxydose).
Oxycodone can induce intensely pleasurable feelings and rewarding sensations. As such, it has a high potential for misuse and dependence. Using oxycodone for non-medical purposes also increases the risk of overdose, as recreational methods of administrating it (e.g., crushing and snorting) accelerate the rate and amount in which the drug is consumed.
When used as directed, oxycodone can produce the following:
- Pain relief
- Extreme relaxation and sedation
- Decreased anxiety
Oxycodone is a potent opioid that can also provoke several unwanted side effects, such as the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Stomach aches and pain
- Flushing and sweating
- Adverse changes in mood
These side effects can make the user very uncomfortable, and tend to worsen as the dose increases. Other side effects may be much more severe and may require immediate medical attention. These include the following:
- Irregular heart rate
- Chest pain
- Hives, rash, and itching
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Extreme drowsiness
- Postural hypotension
Oxycodone can also cause edema (swelling) in the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, lower legs, ankles, or feet.
Among the most severe and dangerous effects of oxycodone use are related to the breathing problems that it can produce. A perilously slow respiratory rate can rapidly become life-threatening and is a likely characteristic of an overdose, especially if other substances are involved. Alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines have similar depressant effects and when used in combination pose a much higher risk of overdose.
Symptoms of oxycodone overdose include:
- Labored breathing
- Excessive sleepiness
- Pinpoint or dilated pupils
- Dizziness and fainting
- Limp or weak muscles
- Slow or stopped heartbeat
- Cold, clammy skin
- Loss of consciousness
On the one hand, many people and medical providers find that oxycodone is extremely effective for the management of chronic pain. On the other hand, when used long-term, oxycodone can have harmful psychological and physiological effects, including dependence and addiction.
Extended oxycodone use has been linked to kidney and liver failure, as well as impaired cognitive function. Combination products present an even greater risk – the prolonged use of any medication combining oxycodone and acetaminophen can result in severe liver damage. What’s more, adding alcohol increases these associated risks.
Development of Dependence and Tolerance
As noted, oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that despite its therapeutic value, it still has a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.
Chemical dependence occurs as the brain adapts to the consistently elevated presence of a substance in a person’s system. Over time, certain physiological processes are impaired when the drug isn’t available, which result in the body becoming unable to operate “normally” without the drug’s presence. When a user tries to quit, he or she will encounter very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which are often uncomfortable enough to compel the person to resume using the drug to avoid them.
The development of tolerance is another result of prolonged oxycodone use, since, over time, the body tends to diminish the effects of certain substances in response to repeated exposure.
As with other opioids, withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone are flu-like, and may include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Muscle or joint pains
- Muscle weakness
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep disturbances
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Rapid pulse and breathing
Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction
Recovery in Tune offers a comprehensive approach to the treatment of oxycodone addiction that includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based, psychotherapeutic strategy that addresses the underlying factors that contribute to addiction. Working with a therapist in this way helps patients reframe negative thoughts and develop the healthy behaviors and coping skills they need to prevent relapse in the future.
We also provide several other services vital to the recovery process, including individual and group counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning for the long-term maintenance of sobriety.
Please contact us as soon as possible if you or someone you know is abusing oxycodone, other prescription medications, illicit drugs, or alcohol. We are dedicated to helping people free themselves from the shackles of addiction and begin to enjoy the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve!