Oxycodone Abuse & Addiction Signs, Effects & Symptoms

Oxycodone is a powerful and highly addictive synthetic opioid that is present in a number of commonly prescribed medications, including Percodan, Percocet, OxyContin, and Tylox. Oxycodone is valued within the medical community for its ability to relieve moderate to severe pain, and is often prescribed to individuals who have suffered an injury, developed chronic pain, or have just undergone surgery.

When a person ingests oxycodone, he or she will experience reduced pain along with an elevation in mood and an increased overall sense of relaxation. Unfortunately, these pleasurable effects also make oxycodone popular among individuals who desire to ingest the opioid for recreational purposes.

Taking oxycodone as directed and under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider significantly limits the risk that a person will become addicted to this drug, but all oxycodone use is accompanied by some risk of dependence. When a person who has been prescribed this drug takes it in a manner that is inconsistent with the directions of the prescribing physician or abuses it for a recreational high, the risk of dependence increases significantly.

When a person becomes dependent upon oxycodone, which is known clinically as developing opioid use disorder, he or she will lose the ability to control the amount and frequency of his or her oxycodone abuse. He or she will develop dependence, which means that he or she will be compelled to ingest larger amounts of oxycodone in order to achieve the desired effect, which will put him or her at continued risk for a host of dangers, including, but by no means limited to, overdose.

Attempting to overcome an addiction to oxycodone on one’s own can be extremely difficult to accomplish. Once the body has become dependent upon oxycodone, the absence of this drug will quickly trigger a variety of painful symptoms, which are known collectively as withdrawal. In the absence of effective professional support, these symptoms can be overwhelming and can drive the person even deeper into a downward spiral of ongoing oxycodone abuse.

Thankfully, opioid use disorder involving oxycodone can be treated. At Acadiana Addiction Center, we have developed effective programming that has empowered many men and women to overcome the compulsion to abuse oxycodone and pursue healthier futures free from the chains of oxycodone addiction.

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Statistics

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), nearly two million Americans have a substance use disorder that involves dependence upon prescription painkillers, a category that includes oxycodone addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported that yearly deaths in the United States that are attributable to prescription painkiller overdose increased by more than 300 percent during the first 14 years of the 21st century.

Causes and Risk Factors for Oxycodone Abuse

A multitude of genetic and environmental factors can influence the likelihood that a person will develop opioid use disorder or another substance use disorder. The following are among the more common factors that may put a person at increased risk for such problems:

Genetic: Having a parent or sibling who struggles with a substance use disorder can significantly increase a person’s risk for having a similar problem, including developing opioid use disorder. Other genetic risk factors that can raise the likelihood that a person will develop opioid use disorder include inheriting certain character traits including impulsivity and novelty seeking.

Environmental: Early exposure to opioid abuse or the abuse of other addictive substances can be a powerful environmental influence on a person’s susceptibility to developing opioid use disorder. Other environmental influences that raise a person’s risk for opioid use disorder include experiencing an accident or having a disease that is treated with oxycodone or another opioid, living in poverty, and experiencing trauma.

Risk Factors:

  • Being prescribed oxycodone
  • Being female (women are more likely than men to be prescribed oxycodone)
  • Family history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Early exposure to substance abuse
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Living in poverty

Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Abuse

Individuals who have been abusing or who have become dependent upon oxycodone may demonstrate a variety of signs and symptoms, including but not limited to the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in significant activities
  • Attempts to fraudulently get prescriptions for oxycodone
  • Attempts to borrow or steal money or goods to exchange for drugs
  • Attempts to borrow or steal oxycodone that has been prescribed to someone else
  • Diminished performance in school or at work
  • Trying and failing to end one’s use of oxycodone
  • Ingesting oxycodone when it is clearly dangerous to do so, such as when also abusing another substance or prior to operating a motor vehicle
  • Continuing to abuse oxycodone even after incurring harm or damage related to prior use
  • Frequent unexplained absences from school or work

Physical symptoms:

  • Pupillary dilation
  • Problems with balance, coordination, and reflexes
  • Faint pulse
  • Shallow, slow, and/or labored breathing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Drowsiness and excessive yawning
  • Itchiness
  • Numbness to pain

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor spatial relations
  • Memory problems
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired ability to concentrate or focus

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Withdrawal
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Oxycodone Abuse

Continuing to abuse oxycodone and failing to get effective professional treatment for opioid use disorder involving oxycodone can bring about a wide range of negative outcomes, including but not limited to the following:

  • Family discord
  • Marital strife
  • Loss of child custody
  • Strained, damaged, or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Academic failure and expulsion
  • Substandard job performance
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Financial devastation
  • Legal problems, including arrest, financial penalties, and/or incarceration
  • Vision problems
  • Heart and lung damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Physical injury resulting from impaired judgment and coordination
  • Withdrawal
  • Social ostracization
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Co-Occurring Disorders

Individuals who abuse and become dependent upon oxycodone may also be at risk for experiencing one or more of the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of oxycodone withdrawal: When a person has developed an opioid use disorder involving oxycodone, attempts to stop or significantly reduce his or her opioid abuse may trigger the onset of a variety of distressing withdrawal symptoms, including but not limited to the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Overwhelming cravings for oxycodone
  • No appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Painful abdominal cramping
  • Tics, tremors, and shakiness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns

Effects of oxycodone overdose: Any individual who develops or demonstrates any of the following symptoms after ingesting oxycodone may have overdosed. A person who has overdosed on oxycodone should be brought to the immediate attention of a qualified healthcare provider.

  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Faint or labored respiration
  • Slowed or shallow heartbeat
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Bluish coloration near lips and/or fingertips
  • Skin that is cold and/or clammy to the touch
  • Unconsciousness
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