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  • Oxycodone (brand names Oxycontin and, when combined with acetaminophen, Percocet) is an opioid medication used to treat those in severe pain. 

    Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. Drug abuse involving oxycodone occurs when you take it in a manner not prescribed by your doctor, take more than prescribed, or take it without a prescription.

    Oxycodone is sold as an immediate-release tablet (Oxaydo, Roxicodone) as well as an extended-release oxycodone (Xtampza ER) option. Tablets may contain oxycodone hydrochloride, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.

    As an opioid analgesic, oxycodone helps assist with pain relief by targeting the central nervous system (CNS). This CNS depressant can lead to a number of serious and life-threatening side effects when abused.

    Short-Term Side Effects Of Oxycodone Abuse

    Short-term and common side effects of oxycodone abuse may consist of:

    • sedation
    • constipation
    • dry mouth
    • loss of appetite
    • lightheadedness
    • drowsiness
    • breathing problems
    • adrenal insufficiency

    An allergic reaction may occur which can result in hives, so contact your doctor right away if you experience a reaction or if any of these symptoms are severe.

    Long-Term Side Effects Of Oxycodone Abuse

    When oxycodone is used long-term, there may be a number of serious side effects one can experience. Depending on the route of administration, some symptoms can differ.

    Abusing the drug long-term can lead to breathing problems, cardiovascular issues, and seizures. Those with sleep apnea and other susceptible conditions should avoid this medication.

    Snorting Oxycodone

    Those who snort oxycodone may create perforations or damage tissue within the nasal passageways. When this takes place, bacterial infections can occur.

    Chronic use of oxycodone by insufflation can create consistent nosebleeds as well as a persistent runny nose. In addition, a deviated septum can develop due to the constant irritation of the nose.

    Injecting Oxycodone

    Injecting oxycodone can cause the effects of the drug to enter the bloodstream more rapidly. Not only is this dangerous, but those who participate in drug abuse with others may also use needles which can lead to diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.

    Abscesses at the site of injection may develop. Collapsed veins and blood clots can also form, leaving marks on the skin. Abusing oxycodone in this manner can increase your risk of a potential overdose.

    Oxycodone Abuse Warnings

    Abusing pain medication can lead to a number of serious life-threatening health conditions.


    According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), oxycodone can pass from breast milk to a child during the lactation process. Women who are nursing should avoid the use of oxycodone, as it can be fatal for a child if they have too much of the drug in their system.

    For those who have kids, the medication should be kept out of reach of children at room temperature to prevent any accidents. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking oxycodone, contact your healthcare provider right away.

    Read more about Oxycodone And Breastfeeding Warnings

    Polysubstance Abuse

    Adverse effects may occur if a person abuses oxycodone by combining this opioid with other prescription or illicit drugs. For instance, the following should be avoided while taking oxycodone:

    • muscle relaxants
    • other opioid medications
    • prescription drugs that affect the CNS
    • benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) or clonazepam (Klonopin)
    • other pain relievers such as hydrocodone
    • antifungal medications such as ketoconazole (Nizoral)
    • certain antidepressants including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors(SNRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • St. John’s wort
    • certain cough medications

    Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

    Oxycodone withdrawal is likely to occur after a period of long-term abuse. You may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using, which may include:

    • shallow breathing
    • cravings for the drug
    • diarrhea
    • low heart rate
    • blurred vision
    • vomiting
    • stomach pain
    • cold flashes

    If you are treated for withdrawal, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and Subutex are medications that may be used to assist in treatment.

    Oxycodone Overdose

    Symptoms of an oxycodone overdose may consist of:

    • respiratory depression
    • clammy skin
    • extreme tiredness or sleepiness
    • low blood pressure
    • coma
    • brain damage
    • death

    If you suspect an overdose has occurred, seek urgent medical attention and contact 911 as soon as possible. In the emergency room, your healthcare provider may administer a life-saving medication known as naloxone (Narcan) which may reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

    If you or a loved one need help to overcome oxycodone abuse, please contact us today for information on our addiction treatment options.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Oxycontin
    Food and Drug Administration - Percocet
    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 November 10, 2022
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