Signs of Oxycodone Use, Misuse, and Addiction
Oxycodone is a powerful prescription opioid that is widely prescribed in the United States to help people manage pain.1 However, while oxycodone has legitimate medical uses, it is frequently diverted for nonmedical use.1 If you or a loved one are struggling with oxycodone misuse, learning more about the drug can help you make an informed decision about your health. This page details the potential signs of oxycodone use, misuse, and addiction and how to get help for yourself or a loved one dealing with an opioid use disorder (OUD).
Effects and Risks of Oxycodone Misuse
Opioids like oxycodone can relieve pain. Depending on the amount taken, oxycodone can also cause drowsiness and feelings of relaxation. A person may also experience adverse side effects, such as:2
- Slowed breathing.
People use opioids like oxycodone to manage pain, but the drug can also cause feelings of euphoria that may lead to repeated use or misuse.2 Misuse includes taking oxycodone in a dosage or way other than prescribed (e.g., snorting), taking someone else’s prescription, or taking oxycodone for its subjective effects (e.g., to get high).2
A person who misuses opioids like oxycodone is at an increased risk of experiencing the adverse side effects above, as well as other effects and risks, including menstrual irregularities in women and sexual dysfunction in men.2, 3 Misuse can also lead to a condition called hypoxia which results when too little oxygen reaches the brain.2, 3
With consistent use or misuse, a person may become physically dependent upon oxycodone and need the substance to feel or function normally.3 Once a person develops significant opioid dependence, they may not be able to stop taking the drug without experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.2, 3
Signs of Oxycodone Addiction
Oxycodone use and misuse can lead to the development of an opioid use disorder (OUD), the clinical term for opioid addiction. Doctors and mental health practitioners diagnose OUD using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with OUD, a person needs to demonstrate at least two of these signs of oxycodone addiction within a 12-month period:3
- Taking more oxycodone than was originally intended.
- Cravings to use oxycodone.
- Attempts to stop using, or cut back on using, are unsuccessful.
- Using a good deal of time and resources to get oxycodone, use it, and recover from using the drug.
- Not being able to complete expected duties at work, school, or home.
- Continuing to use oxycodone despite the consequences of its use.
- Giving up interests or hobbies that were once enjoyed due to oxycodone use.
- Using oxycodone in high-risk situations, such as driving or swimming.
- Continuing to use oxycodone, even knowing that it worsens a medical or psychological problem.
- Developing a tolerance to oxycodone and taking more of it to get the same effects as before.
- Showing signs of withdrawal when oxycodone is withheld, including nausea, diarrhea, sweating, or body aches.
What to Do if You Suspect Someone Is Misusing Oxycodone
If you recognize these warning signs of oxycodone misuse in yourself or a loved one, it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that opioid use disorder (OUD) is treatable, and patients can recover with professional treatment.7
Oxycodone addiction treatment can take place in different settings, including:7
- Inpatient rehab, where patients live on-site and receive 24-hour care, monitoring, and support. This can be a good option for patients with severe addictions, co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety), or patients without stable living environments.
- Outpatient rehab, where patients receive similar care as that of an inpatient rehab but live at home for the duration of treatment. Outpatient rehab can vary in duration and intensity depending on the needs of a patient.
Treatment may begin with a period of medical detox to help patients withdraw from oxycodone and other substances as comfortably and safely as possible. This can help them more easily transition to ongoing treatment in an inpatient or outpatient rehab.8
While in an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, patients can expect to participate in various behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or motivational interviewing. Behavioral therapies can help patients helps you learn how to identify and modify behaviors related to substance use. Some programs also treat co-occurring disorders, when a patient has another mental health condition besides an OUD. Treatment that addresses both can provide the best chance for sustained recovery.7
Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can be an important component of treatment and may be used in combination with behavioral therapy. Medications can help ease or prevent withdrawal symptoms and help control ongoing cravings for oxycodone and other opioids. Some of the benefits of MOUD are helping retain people in treatment longer and a higher survival rate among people with opioid use disorders. Medications approved for opioid addiction treatment include buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. 7, 9
See If Your Insurance Covers Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help people recover from oxycodone misuse and addiction. To verify your insurance for opioid addiction treatment at an AAC facility, fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential, and there is no obligation to enter treatment.