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  • Oxycodone (common brand names Oxycontin and Percocet) is a Schedule II controlled substance according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical or psychological dependence.

    Although prescribed for pain relief, this prescription drug can be abused with some even taking the drug long after the expiration date. Taking expired medication may be a form of drug abuse and can be dangerous for your health.

    Expired Oxycodone

    Oxycodone is highly potent and may retain the original potency years after the expiration date on the label. This medication retains potency for many years if stored in the right conditions.

    However, not acknowledging drug expiration dates or the shelf life of an opioid medication, can be dangerous, especially if a person is abusing the medication and combining other drugs as well.

    Certain expired medicines may not be effective after the shelf-life date such as nitroglycerin, tetracycline, and Epipens. Those with addiction, however, may turn to expired oxycodone due to the drug’s continual effectiveness.

    To keep oxycodone safe, it’s important to store the drug at room temperature, preferably out of reach of children in a medicine cabinet with other medications such as ibuprofen.

    How To Properly Dispose Of Expired Oxycodonedispose

    According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), oxycodone should be disposed of by flushing it down the toilet unless local pharmacies have a drug take-back program.

    However, the FDA has implemented the shelf life extension program (SLEP) which helps keep track of medications and their expiration date. This program also allows federal stockpiles of drugs to be kept for numerous years because the effectiveness may remain.

    Short-Term Side Effects Of Oxycodone Use

    Because expired oxycodone can be still as effective as a new prescription, this pain reliever still creates side effects.

    According to the FDA, some of the side effects associated with oxycodone may include:

    • sedation
    • nausea
    • constipation
    • dizziness
    • mood swings
    • abdominal pain
    • dry mouth
    • low blood pressure
    • headache
    • drowsiness
    • sweating

    Long-Term Side Effects Of Oxycodone Use

    Those who use oxycodone long-term may experience serious side effects such as withdrawal symptoms or an overdose.

    Other long-term effects may consist of:

    • lack of interest in sex
    • chest pain
    • seizures
    • changes in heart rate
    • extreme drowsiness
    • loss of appetite
    • agitation
    • hallucinations

    Withdrawal Symptoms

    Abusing oxycodone can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), when you abruptly stop use.

    Some of the withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone may include:

    • sleeping problems
    • cravings for the drug
    • diarrhea
    • muscle pain
    • vomiting
    • tremors
    • cold flashes

    Oxycodone Overdose

    An oxycodone overdose can occur when you take too much of the drug, regardless of the expiration date. The risk of overdose increases when you mix oxycodone with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or another central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

    Some of the symptoms of an oxycodone overdose can include:

    • respiratory depression
    • clammy skin
    • loss of consciousness
    • slow heart rate
    • fainting
    • confusion
    • severe weakness

    Naloxone is a medication which can be used if a person has an opioid overdose. Potentially life-saving, this medication may be administered at the emergency room.

    If you suspect an oxycodone overdose has taken place, contact 911 immediately.

    Polydrug Abuse

    Taking expired oxycodone with other drugs and medications can lead to serious allergic reactions or adverse events.

    Those taking oxycodone should avoid the following before consulting medical advice from a healthcare professional:

    • antihistamines
    • supplements or vitamins
    • certain antidepressants
    • buprenorphine
    • over-the-counter medications
    • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • certain cough medications such as codeine
    • benzodiazepines
    • other opioid medications
    • expired drugs of any kind

    Combining other meds with oxycodone is a serious form of substance abuse that may require addiction treatment.

    If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to prescription medications, please contact us to speak with one of our healthcare providers today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know
    Food and Drug Administration - Oxycontin
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - What are Prescription Opioids?
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Opioid Misuse and Addiction
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Oxycodone

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on January 30, 2023
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