Oxycodone Misuse and Addiction
Oxycodone is an opioid medication that is prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief. While oxycodone can aid in pain management for those struggling, it is also a powerful medication with a high potential for misuse and addiction.
This page will provide more insight into oxycodone, including:
- Its addictive nature.
- Its effects.
- Signs of oxycodone abuse.
- How oxycodone addiction is treated.
- Whether you can use your insurance plan to obtain oxycodone addiction treatment and rehab.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opioid drug and the primary active ingredient in many prescription painkillers, including OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, and Xtampza. Opioids inhibit the transmission of pain signals by attaching to and activating opioid receptor proteins found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.1
In the past, oxycodone was used to help patients cope with chronic pain, but due to improved understanding of the drug’s addictive potential, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) now strongly advises against using oxycodone for long-term management of chronic pain.
Street names for oxycodone, often identified as Oxy, include:2,3
- Hillbilly heroin.
When a person ingests high doses of oxycodone, they may experience an overwhelming sense of euphoria. Coupled with pain-relieving properties, this high can feel extremely comforting to the user, but it may mask other effects that can pose a threat to the user’s life.
The Dangers of Oxycodone Misuse and Addiction
Oxycodone addiction is the continued, compulsive use of oxycodone despite serious negative consequences, such as health, work, school, and relationship problems.1 Addiction is a treatable medical illness that affects the brain and changes behaviors such as self-control.4
Oxycodone and other prescription opioid use in the United States is a serious public health issue. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the 8.7 million people aged 12 or older who misused prescription pain relievers, 2.6 million people (30.4%) in misused oxycodone in the past year. The same survey estimated 9.2 million people aged 12 or older misused prescription opioids in the past year.5
Can Oxycodone Be Addictive?
Yes, the repeated abuse of prescription opioids can lead to an opioid use disorder (OUD), with addiction the most severe form of the OUD.
Oxycodone is an opioid drug that is classified as a Schedule II substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse and could potentially lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.2,6
Opioids block pain signals from the brain to the body and release large amounts of dopamine. The release of dopamine can strongly reinforce taking the drug because the individual wants to repeat the experience.7
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction?
Those who are struggling with oxycodone addiction may experience various signs and symptoms. Oxycodone side effects may include:8
- Stomach pain.
- Dry mouth.
- Mood changes.
More serious side effects may include:8
- Changes in heartbeat.
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness.
- Hallucinations, agitation, fever, severe muscle stiffness, loss of coordination.
- Chest pain.
- Swelling of the face, throat, lips, tongue, hands, feet, lower legs.
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Extreme drowsiness.
What Are the Health Risks of Oxycodone Misuse?
Medications containing oxycodone can have extremely dangerous effects on the user, including:1,2,7
- Very low blood pressure.
- Slowed or stopped heartbeat.
- Slowed or stopped breathing.
- Extreme nausea or vomiting.
- Severe dizziness.
- Overdose, which can result in death.
These side effects can range from uncomfortable to lethal, depending on the dose, method of use, and user’s tolerance level. Methods of ingestion that could potentially speed the onset of effects, like snorting or injecting the drug, may put the user at a higher risk of overdose, though this depends largely on the dose and potency of the product prepared to be misused in this manner.
Signs of Oxycodone Overdose
Opioid overdose is tragically common. The effects that oxycodone has on the central nervous system can turn a feeling of relaxation into a struggle to stay alive. Symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include:1,2,7
- Severe drowsiness.
- Muscle weakness.
- Extreme confusion.
- Shallow or stopped breathing.
- Slow or stopped heart rate.
- Cold or clammy skin.
- Pinpoint pupils.
People who overdose on opioids often experience slowed or stopped breathing. This decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches their brain, potentially resulting in coma, permanent brain damage, or death.7
Take Our “Am I Addicted to Oxycodone?” Self-Assessment
Take our free, 5-minute “Am I Addicted to Oxycodone” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with oxycodone addiction. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder.
Substance use disorders should be diagnosed by professionals using these diagnostic criteria after thorough patient assessment. This self-assessment is free and confidential and may serve as an indicator of a potential addiction but should not replace a diagnosis from a professional treatment provider.
How Do I Get Help for Oxycodone Addiction?
Effective treatment and support exist for opioid addiction and opioid use disorder. Treatment may be delivered by private rehab, via state or local treatment programs in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, through support groups, or in various other ways.
Oxycodone addiction treatment may include the following:9
- Detox for oxycodone addiction involves the clearing of the body of oxycodone, or any substance. Medically managed detox helps an individual go through withdrawal symptoms comfortably and safely while under the care of professionals 24/7. Detox may be the first step in recovery.
- Inpatient treatment for oxycodone addiction treatment typically involves staying in a facility with around-the-clock care and monitoring, group therapy, and individual counseling.
- Outpatient treatment for oxycodone addiction rehab allows the patient to attend group and individual counseling sessions while living at home. This type of care may provide you with the opportunity to attend, school, work, and participate in daily life while working on your recovery.
For more information about oxycodone abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you seek oxycodone abuse treatment.
See if Your Insurance Covers Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
If you are looking for oxycodone addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming. As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your health insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call American Addiction Centers (AAC) at , click here, or fill out the form below.