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Can You Snort Oxycodone?

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Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin) is a prescription opioid typically found in pill form. (1) Snorting oxycodone requires crushing the pills into powder and administering it nasally in a way similar to cocaine. When the drug is altered in this way and ingestion occurs, this is considered misuse, regardless of whether or not an individual has a legitimate prescription. Snorting drugs like oxycodone and other opioids can induce intense, rapid effects, increasing the odds of experiencing severe health complications and overdose.

If you’ve been misusing oxycodone with or without a prescription, you may have an opioid use disorder that would benefit from comprehensive substance misuse treatment. Guardian Recovery offers innovative treatment programs and personalized care plans intended to treat all aspects of an individual’s physical and mental health and wellness. Contact us to learn more about our evidence-based therapies, support services, and activities.

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How Does Oxycodone Work?

Oxycodone is a powerful painkiller that works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. (2) By attaching to these receptors, oxycodone blocks signal transmission between the brain and the nerves, reducing pain perception and inducing feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Oxycodone and other opioids can also produce side effects, including sedation and respiratory depression. These are the result of the drug’s ability to reduce activity in the central nervous system (CNS) and can be dangerous if used in excessive amounts or in combination with other drugs with depressant effects. For this reason and others, oxycodone should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision and exactly as prescribed.

Why Do People Snort Oxycodone or Opioids?

People typically snort oxycodone or other opioids to induce a more intense high than they could experience from using them orally. When these drugs are snorted, they are absorbed rapidly through the nasal tissues and into the bloodstream, leading to a faster onset of effects. This can be appealing to some individuals looking for a quick and powerful high.

Unfortunately, this habit comes with even more risks than oral administration and can cause damage to the nasal passages and respiratory system, increasing the risk of bacterial infections and other complications.

Short-Term Side Effects & Symptoms of Snorting Oxycodone/Opioids Include:

  • Irritation, inflammation, and damage to the nasal passages, leading to difficulty breathing.
  • Increased risk of bacterial infections in the nasal passages and respiratory system. (3)
  • Faster onset of effects compared to ingesting the medication orally, which can increase the risk of overdose and other serious health outcomes.
  • Increased risk of addiction and dependence, as it induces intense feelings of reward and pleasure. Impaired judgment, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Impaired cognitive function, including attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Other side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and respiratory depression.

Long-Term Side Effects & Symptoms of Oxycodone/Opioids Include:

  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
  • Permanent nasal passage damage, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and other lung conditions. (4)
  • Cardiovascular complications, such as high blood pressure and an irregular heart rate.
  • Liver damage and failure.
  • Chronic cognitive impairments, including memory loss, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.

What Does Snorting Oxycodone & Other Opioids Do to the Nose & Nasal Tissues?

Snorting drugs, such as opioids, habitually can cause extensive damage to the nose and nasal passages. Sustained damage may be unrepairable, leading to chronic health complications and even disfigurement in severe cases.

Nasal Damage Related to Snorting Opioids & Other Drugs Includes:

  • Nasal irritation, inflammation, swelling, and discomfort.
  • Chronic nosebleeds and runny nose.
  • Reduced sense of smell.
  • Chronic sinus infections.

Snorting drugs can also lead to a hole or perforation in the tissue separating the nostrils. (5) This can lead to chronic congestion, difficulty breathing, and an altered nose structure and appearance.

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Is There a Difference in Effects Between Snorting & Proper Use?

There may be significant differences in effects when opioids are snorted rather than ingested as directed by a doctor. Oxycodone and other opioids are usually prescribed as tablets, capsules, or liquids. These methods of administration are specifically designed to be absorbed gradually into the bloodstream over time, which can relieve pain and induce other therapeutic effects.

Conversely, when opioids are snorted, they are absorbed rapidly through the nasal tissues and into the bloodstream, leading to a faster and more intense onset of effects. These include perceived positive effects, such as feelings of euphoria and pleasure, but they also increase the risk of overdose and other adverse health consequences.

Can You Overdose on Oxycodone From Snorting?

Misuse of oxycodone, including snorting, can lead to overdose. (6) Overdose can occur when an individual uses an excessive amount of oxycodone or when it’s taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

Oxycodone Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • Slowed, shallow, difficult, or stopped breathing.
  • Extreme confusion or disorientation.
  • Severe drowsiness and difficulty staying awake.
  • Cold and clammy skin.
  • Blue lips and fingertips (cyanosis).
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Weak pulse.
  • Vomiting.
  • Loss of responsiveness or consciousness.
  • Gurgling sounds or “death rattle”.
  • Death.

Overdose signs and symptoms can occur within minutes after ingestion and last for several hours. An oxycodone overdose is life-threatening and requires prompt medical intervention. If you suspect someone has overdosed on oxycodone or other drugs, call 911 immediately. The earlier symptoms are treated, the better the individual’s chance of survival and a full recovery. After medical attention is received, many symptoms can be resolved quickly. However, some effects, such as respiratory depression, may require continuing medical care and monitoring.

Healing From Oxycodone Addiction & Withdrawal

Overcoming oxycodone dependence, addiction, and withdrawal can be an extended and difficult process, but it is certainly possible with the appropriate treatment and support.

Steps That Can Facilitate Recovery Include:

  • Medical Detox—This involves discontinuing oxycodone use under medical monitoring, which can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.
  • Behavioral Therapy—Therapy can help individuals identify and alter adverse thought patterns and behaviors that lead to drug use.
  • Support Groups—These can provide individuals with a supportive peer community of others who have also gone through the process of addiction and recovery.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)—A process that involves the use of medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, in combination with various therapies to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of relapse.
  • Treatment for Co-Occurring Health Conditions—Examples include treatments for chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, and other physical and mental disorders to improve long-term recovery outcomes.

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It’s important to note that recovery is a unique process for each individual, and there is no single approach guaranteed to work for everyone. It’s important for individuals seeking long-term recovery to work with an addiction specialist to devise a personalized treatment plan that meets their individual needs.

If you’re ready to confront addiction and alter the unhealthy behaviors that have led to your drug or alcohol misuse, we encourage you to reach out to us to speak to a skilled Treatment Advisor. You can learn more about our streamlined admissions process and full continuum of care and receive a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check. Contact us today to get started on your journey to a healthier, happier, and substance-free life.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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