Oxycodone Addiction and Abuse

An analgesic, Oxycodone is a potent painkiller and one of the most abused prescription medications in the country. You may begin using oxycodone at the prescribed amount, but as your body develops tolerance to the drug, you need increasing doses to maintain the feeling of euphoria it brings.

Transition from oxycodone use to abuse and addiction can be a speedy and dangerous road. It can be difficult to maintain your control because of the much-needed relief it offers, especially if you’re dealing with chronic pain. Recognising that you have oxycodone abuse and addiction issues is the first step to attaining freedom.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain in a number of conditions, such as cancer or for post-operation patients. It is chemically designed to simulate the structure of the opiate morphine, and can be classified as an opioid. Like all prescription pain relievers and narcotics (such as fentanyl, heroin and morphine), oxycodone has a significantly high potential for addiction.

The precise method of action is unknown, but may involve the stimulation of the brain’s opioid receptors. Oxycodone does not erase the sensation of pain, but lessens discomfort by boosting your pain tolerance. It also causes respiratory depression and sedation.

Various Forms of Oxycodone

Oxycodone comes in immediate-release and extended-release form. The immediate-release form of oxycodone is available as a generic drug. The extended-release form is only available as the brand-name drug OxyContin. In addition, there are two different ways in which oxycodone is produced. It is made into tablets containing only oxycodone. The most common brand names for this form of the medication are Oxycontin and Roxycodone.

It is also formulated as tablets, containing a mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Tylox, Percocet and Percodan are the most popular brand names for this form. Most people abusing the substance prefer the form containing only oxycodone.

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Oxycodone Addiction and Abuse: What is it?

Oxycodone abuse is defined as taking the medication without a doctor’s prescription or taking more than the recommended amount. It may begin as a way in which to experience more of the pleasurable, euphoric feelings provided by oxycodone. You may then use it as a vehicle to cope with feelings of sadness and emotional pain.

Abusing oxycodone causes you to build up tolerance of a very high level. This means you begin to feel the need to increase the dose of oxycodone regularly over time in order to achieve the pleasurable effects your body is accustomed to. Your speedily developing tolerance and continuously increasing doses can in turn cause you to develop an oxycodone addiction.

What Causes Oxycodone Addiction and Abuse?

There are genetic, biological, environmental and psychological causes of oxycodone addiction and abuse. If you have a family history of substance abuse disorders, there is a high risk of developing one. Like all opiates, oxycodone produces strong effects on the brain, stimulating the areas responsible for the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals and increasing their amount in the brain.

When you feel overwhelmed by stress, your anxiety and fear levels increase. Stress also causes pain and muscle tension. Oxycodone lowers such negative symptoms, causing you to feel more motivated to use it to avoid further discomfort. In addition, the ‘high’ from oxycodone temporarily relieves psychological issues like depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, abusing oxycodone to deal with such issues tends to lead to addiction.

How Addiction Develops

Although you may not develop a chemical dependency or addiction immediately after abusing a drug, prolonged and consistent abuse influences the risk of addiction. This is because regular substance abuse causes you to build tolerance to the drug and compulsive, drug-seeking behaviours may become noticeable.

Addiction is a complex disease of the brain and more than one single factor causes it to develop. Due to the nature of addiction, a compassionate treatment programme is crucial to recognise and deal with the underlying factors that comprise substance addiction. Some of these factors include problems within the family, early drug abuse and traumatic experiences.

How Oxycodone Addiction and Abuse Affects the Brain and Body

Oxycodone addiction and abuse can lead to harmful effects to your brain and body. This narcotic painkiller causes chemical changes to the brain and also damages brain cells. The most affected areas of the brain are those responsible for learning, memory and cognition. Nerve cells can also be affected by oxycodone abuse and addiction.

In addition, depending on the manner in which you use the drug, abusing oxycodone can result in long-term heart damage and increase the likelihood of a heart attack. You can also cause damage to your nose and lungs by crushing and snorting the drug. The risk of developing an infection is also high when the drug is injected.

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Who Becomes Addicted to Oxycodone?

There is no way to tell who will become addicted. There are many reasons (including your genes and lifestyle) that can put you at risk of becoming addicted. However, experts have discovered that certain people are more likely to be addicted. For instance, if you have a family history of oxycodone addiction, it raises your chances, because you may have inherited genes that place you at risk.

Also, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder increase your chances of oxycodone addiction. That’s because like other narcotic painkillers, oxycodone can ease your psychological stress by blocking feelings of pain, reducing sadness and worry. Therefore, if your doctor prescribes oxycodone to help deal with pain caused by a broken leg, you will likely continue taking it, even after your leg has healed.

Teen OxyContin Abuse

Teen OxyContin abuse occurs mainly because the pills are usually readily available at home. Teens experiencing the effects of OxyContin can easily develop addiction or progress to using heroin to meet the always increasing cravings for a bigger ‘high’. Also, the widely held belief that prescription opioids are safer than illicit drugs is incorrect, but it still leads many teens to abuse OxyContin and other painkiller medications.

If your teen is abusing OxyContin, you may notice that they go through withdrawal symptoms when the correct dosage is not administered or if the dose is taken too late. If this is something you recognise in your teen, speak to your healthcare provider. Also, you can talk to them about the danger of prescription drugs, before it even becomes a problem.

How Teens Get Access to OxyContin

It’s possible for a teen looking to get ‘high’ to access OxyContin in the medicine cabinet at home. Remnants of your drug prescription may be available, which could fall into the wrong hands. It is therefore essential to either throw away unused drugs or keep them under lock and key. Teens can also purchase prescription drugs online, with or without a prescription.

Friends are other sources of the substance, as a number of prescription drugs are usually available during a ‘pharming party’. Some teens may also have legitimate prescriptions of OxyContin and may sell the drug to others to make some extra money.

Signs, Symptoms and Effects of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

During oxycodone abuse and addiction, you experience a variety of signs and symptoms related to its functions with opioid receptors in your body. The effects will vary somewhat, depending on the specific formulation of oxycodone you’ve ingested and on the method used to consume the medication. Unwanted signs and symptoms include confusion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and difficulty breathing.

The effects of oxycodone abuse and addiction can affect almost every aspect of your life. The most common effects include: financial problems, breathing problems, interpersonal relationship issues, loss of appetite, sleep apnoea, circulatory problems, low blood pressure, headache and respiratory arrest.

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone on the Body

When oxycodone is used as recommended, it can cause desirable feelings such as pain relief, sedation, reduced anxiety, euphoria, and extreme relaxation. Other short-term effects include dry mouth, sweating, headache, and mood changes. Opiate use will result in constipation, which may cause you to use laxatives. Your pupils will become constricted, and you may feel some itchiness and rub your face and nose frequently.

All opiates suppress respiration, which is a common cause of death in cases of overdose. Death can also occur when more than one drug that suppresses breathing is abused – for instance, taking OxyContin and a benzodiazepine.

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Long-Term Effects of Using Oxycodone

With prolonged use over time, oxycodone can have both positive and negative effects. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, oxycodone can effectively manage your pain. However, the drug can lead to dependency in addition to some damaging psychological and physiological impacts. Oxycodone use has been associated with liver and kidney failure, in addition to a reduction in the adaptive capacities of the brain.

Also, using medications that combine oxycodone and acetaminophen over a long period can cause serious liver damage. This risk is also high if you use the combination drug with alcohol. Long-term abuse of oxycodone places you at risks that should be discussed with your doctor.

Physical Signs and symptoms of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone can be habit-forming, and abusing the drug can easily lead to addiction. Identifying an oxycodone addiction is not always easy. You may have started taking oxycodone to deal with long-term pain. However, when you begin needing higher doses in greater quantities, your oxycodone intake may well have turned into an addiction.

Some of the physical signs and symptoms you can use to identify oxycodone abuse and addiction include: drug-driving, hallucinations, itching, poor grooming or lack of hygiene, constipation, dry mouth, diarrhoea, dilated pupils during withdrawal, and being in possession of a variety of prescription bottles from different doctors.

Psychological signs and symptoms of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone abuse and addiction can also be recognized by some of these psychological signs and symptoms, as highlighted below:

  • When you first began to take oxycodone, an intention to abuse the substance wasn’t present, but still you started to consume too much or take it too often.
  • You want to cease using hydrocodone – or at least cutback – but are unable to do so.
  • A significant portion of your life is dedicated to getting oxycodone, using it, and/or recovering from its effects.
  • You have urges or cravings for oxycodone.
  • Despite the fact that oxycodone usage is putting you in dangerous situations (such as driving under the influence of drugs), you continue to use.
  • Even though oxycodone usage is causing or worsening any psychological or physical issues, you continue to use.

Signs of Oxycodone Withdrawal and Overdose

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms may vary from mild to severe, depending on how dependent you use the drug. Dependency is determined by the length of time you’ve used the drug, your dosage, how you used it, as well as any co-occurring disorders and environmental factors. Quitting oxycodone can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, anxiety, agitation and sweats.

The signs of oxycodone overdose vary from one person to the next and depend on how much of the drug was ingested. These signs may include breathing problems, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, narrow pupils, bluish tint to the lips and fingernails, slowed pulse, loss of consciousness, extreme sleepiness and coma.

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Dangerous Effects of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Controlled Substances Act, which means it has a high potential for abuse and can result in severe physical or psychological dependence. When you use this drug, it can produce powerful and desirable feelings, in addition to different rewarding sensations.

Recreational use of oxycodone poses a high risk of overdose, as this form of abuse often uses methods that encourage the absorption of large and dangerous amounts of the drug. The dangerous effects of oxycodone abuse and addiction go beyond what occurs to your mind and body. One of the most notable effects is the destruction caused to other aspects of the user’s life.

Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Effects of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Oxycodone abuse and addiction has far reaching impacts on a person’s physical, psychological, emotional, behavioural and mental health. Some of these effects include: legal problems, incarceration, domestic abuse, divorce, circulatory collapse, cold and clammy skin, broken relationships, respiratory depression and consequences of risk-taking behaviours.

When these effects begin to occur in a loved one, you may in turn notice the signs and symptoms of oxycodone abuse and realise there is a problem. You may even try to talk to them, suggesting that they need help. A treatment centre can help them overcome their addiction and learn coping skills for the future.

The Social Impacts of Oxycodone

The social impacts of oxycodone affect areas such as work, school, personal relationships, finances, hobbies, clubs or activities. Your personal relationships may become strained, because of constant questions and criticisms from your loved ones. Therefore, you may choose to totally ignore your friends and family and spend more time with new friends, who encourage your habit.

Low performance as a result of regular drug use may cause you to lose your job. This is one of the many reasons for money problems and other financial issues you may experience. You might also take cash out of savings accounts or sell off treasured family heirlooms to pay for your oxycodone habit.

Coping with Withdrawal

When it comes to withdrawal, support is the most important thing you can have. The more support you have, the greater your chances of overcoming addiction. Get professional support by going to a detox facility, where you’ll be closely supervised by an expert team of healthcare providers. They’ll help ensure your safety and take the necessary steps to relieve withdrawal symptoms.

Emotional support is also important, and your friends and loved ones can provide it during this trying time. Therefore, let them know you’re going through withdrawal, because their presence can make a big difference. Also, support groups like Narcotics Anonymous are an option for emotional support, as they contribute to helping you break free from oxycodone abuse and addiction.

How to treat Oxycodone withdrawal

There are prescription medications available that can be used in withdrawal treatment and to help you quit using oxycodone. Such treatments can shorten your withdrawal process and reduce the severity of your symptoms. In certain cases, your healthcare provider may recommend continuation of these drugs throughout rehab and the recovery phases of treatment.

Oxycodone withdrawal treatment medications include methadone and buprenorphine, which are man-made opioids that work to stop oxycodone cravings. Two other drugs are Naloxone and Naltrexone, which have been effective in helping to break oxycodone addiction. These two drugs function by blocking your brain and body from feeling the effects of oxycodone.

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Therapy, Treatment and Rehab for Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

Addiction treatment saves lives in many cases, because the longer it’s allowed to go on, the deadlier it becomes. If you are struggling with oxycodone abuse, you’ll need to learn how to live a sober and healthy life, without the use of the drug. The skills involved are acquired during therapy, treatment and rehab for drug abuse and addiction.

Abuse and addiction is best treated at a rehabilitation facility. Therapy will be provided to help you understand how your addiction began, as well as the things that trigger your cravings for the drug. In addition, you’ll also receive medical care, nutritional counselling and certain alternative therapies to ensure you undergo safe and effective treatment.

Oxycodone Addiction Rehabilitation and Detox

Generally, oxycodone addiction detox takes approximately two weeks to complete. After this stage, the oxycodone is expunged from your system and at this point you can begin the rehab part of your treatment. During rehabilitation, you’ll meet with counsellors and mental health experts to explore the reasons behind your addiction, which could be stress, peer pressure or low self-esteem.

After the rehab stage of your treatment, you can then enter the recovery phase. It’s here that you begin to re-enter society as a clean and sober individual. Normally, after you complete rehabilitation and detox for oxycodone addiction, you’ll be well prepared and have the support you need to confidently live drug-free.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment Prices

Like other medical treatment methods, the cost of oxycodone addiction treatment is one aspect you need to consider when enrolling. Factors that affect the cost of treatment include if you’re undergoing detoxification or have detoxed already, as well as if you’re choosing inpatient or outpatient treatment, and how long you are staying in treatment.

As no two treatment plans are the same, it’s difficult to provide a generalised price quote. You can utilise your insurance policy to handle all or part of your treatment. Private payment plans are also possible so that you can have access to the best available addiction treatment.

Aftercare: Staying off Oxycodone

Your treatment does not end after you are discharged from the rehab facility. Receiving aftercare therapy increases your chance of maintaining sobriety, whilst reducing the likelihood of relapse. Examples of aftercare include psychosocial therapy, counselling, group therapy, and medical care.

During recovery (the period post-rehab), aftercare services provide valuable support that can help keep you on track and successfully stay off oxycodone. Aftercare services such as self-help groups, 12-step meetings and volunteer activities can contribute to your long-term recovery from oxycodone.

Individual counselling and Family therapy

Individual counselling and family therapy are a significant part of rehab. You learn how to identify and prevent behaviours that result in drug use. Even during aftercare, professionals can help you formulate practical plans to deal with some of the challenges you’ll face in recovery, such as conflicts at home, old emotional triggers, and coping with work related stress.

Family therapy typically begins in early rehab, and can also continue into the aftercare and recovery phase. Some rehab programmes offer sessions for spouses, partners and children, to educate them about addiction and how to avoid enabling behaviours, whilst encouraging better practices that aid recovery.

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Support groups

Support groups can help you cope during and after your treatment programme. By joining and participating in a support group, you can begin to realise that there are others in the same situation as you are, and that you’re not alone. Support groups also help you accept responsibility for your addiction so that you can commit fully to recovery.

There are many different types of support groups designed for recovering oxycodone users. Most of them make use of the 12-step model, which provides guiding principles for recovery. The main objective of the 12-step model for support groups is to give you the encouragement you need to live a life free from oxycodone addiction.

Facts / Statistics

  • According to the Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), about 1.9 million Americans suffer from a substance abuse disorder, including oxycodone addiction.
  • Women are more likely than men to be prescribed pain medications. Between 1998 and 2010, 48,000 women died from prescription painkiller overdose.
  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the United States has 81 percent of all oxycodone prescriptions in the world.

If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs, it’s crucial to handle the situation carefully. Contact us at Addiction Helper to help you find the right treatment for oxycodone addiction and abuse.


What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a narcotic pain reliever that is commonly used to manage moderate to severe pain.

What Is It Used For?

It is used for the relief of severe or strong pain, such as that experienced after an injury, operation or for cancer.

What is the Annual Fatalities rate?

There has been a 340 per cent increase in the annual death rate from prescription painkiller overdose in the United States.

Who Becomes Addicted to Oxycodone?

Individuals who take more than prescribed by their doctor – or take oxycodone without a prescription – are at risk of becoming addicted.

What are Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms?

The withdrawal symptoms include the following: anxiety, panic attack, nausea, insomnia, muscle pain, muscle weakness, and other flu-like symptoms.

What are the effects of Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction?

Oxycodone abuse and addiction can lead to loss of child custody, damage to vision, lung damage, financial problems, and unemployment.

Is there a normal level of Oxycodone usage?

Normal oxycodone usage applies to using drugs according to the recommended dosage.

What are the Various Forms of Oxycodone?

Oxycodone comes in an immediate-release and an extended-release form.

Can Oxycodone Be Abused?

Many people who abuse oxycodone start out taking the prescribed amount, but as their body develops a tolerance to the drug, they need a higher dose to maintain the same relief or ‘high’.

Oxycodone addiction symptoms: Can they be treated?

The symptoms can be treated using medications such as methadone and buprenorphine at a rehab centre.

How much does it take to overdose from Oxycodone?

Higher or more frequent doses can result in overdose. 40mg of a single dose of controlled release oxycodone should not be exceeded.

Do Suboxone and Oxycodone really work to treat addiction?

Suboxone is an opioid medication used to treat addictions to opiates. Because it is similar to opiate analgesics like oxycodone, it has been effective in treating them as well.

Do you get ‘high’ on Oxycodone?

Oxycodone produces euphoric effects, which makes it a drug of choice for people looking to get ‘high’.

Where Else Can I Find Help?

You can find help for addiction at professional rehab centres. At Addiction Helper, we’ll be happy to find the help you need.

Who is At Risk of Oxycodone Addiction?

A variety of genetic and environmental factors (including gender, mental illness, and early exposure to oxycodone) put a person at risk of addiction.

When should I Seek help?

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you should seek help immediately.

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