Oxycodone Use Signs, Withdrawal Symptoms, and Side Effects

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Oxycodone is a potent opioid used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Although it can be an effective pain treatment, it also has the potential to cause several side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and overdoses. If you develop a dependence on oxycodone or begin to experience signs of addiction, such as cravings or compulsive drug use, it is imperative to seek professional help. Treatment for oxycodone addiction may include evidence-based methods such as medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, support groups, and aftercare planning.

With the right treatment and support, overcoming addiction and regaining control of your life is possible. Guardian Recovery Network offers a wide range of effective therapeutic services and activities, and a Treatment Advisor is available today to discuss your options. If you are ready to break free from drug or alcohol dependence, contact us to learn more.

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Physical & Psychological Side Effects of Using Oxycodone

Oxycodone use has been linked to a number of short-term physical and mental side effects, which can worsen if the drug is misused or used excessively. (1) Their duration varies depending on several factors, including the person’s metabolic rate, dosage, and frequency and length of use. Most of these effects subside within a few hours to a few days after drug use is discontinued. Conversely, long-term side effects can persist for months, years, or indefinitely.

Short-Term Physical Side Effects Include:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Headache.
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Itching.
  • Sweating.
  • Fatigue.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Decreased libido.
  • Respiratory depression.

Short-Term Psychological Side Effects Include:

  • Euphoria.
  • Confusion.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Mood and behavioral changes.

Long-Lasting Physical & Psychological Effects Include:

  • Addiction and dependence.
  • Tolerance.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Hormonal imbalances.
  • Gastrointestinal problems.
  • Cognitive impairment.
  • Liver and kidney damage.
  • Social and behavioral problems.

If you or someone you know has been taking oxycodone and has been having any of the above side effects, you should get help right away to avoid serious or permanent health problems in the future.

Can Continued Use or Misuse of Oxycodone Cause Addiction?

Yes, continued use or misuse of oxycodone can cause addiction. Oxycodone is a powerful drug that binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, blocking pain signals and producing feelings of euphoria and relaxation. (2) When someone uses oxycodone over a prolonged period, the brain can become dependent on the drug to function normally. This can lead to physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if the drug is suddenly stopped or the dosage is reduced.

Addiction is marked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior, despite adverse consequences such as legal, financial, and health issues. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that can be challenging to overcome without professional treatment and support. (3) The risk of developing an oxycodone addiction increases with factors such as a personal or family history of substance abuse, a history of mental health disorders, and chronic pain.

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What Are the Signs & Symptoms of an Oxycodone Overdose?

An oxycodone overdose can cause many severe and possibly fatal side effects, depending on how much was taken, the person’s tolerance, and other substances present in the body. (4)

Symptoms of an Oxycodone Overdose Include:

Severe, life-threatening respiratory depression, evidenced by shallow breathing, difficulty breathing, slow or irregular breathing, and bluish lips or skin (cyanosis).

  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Confusion and dizziness.
  • Extreme sedation, loss of consciousness, coma, and even death.
  • Low blood pressure can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Seizures.

If you think you or someone else is overdosing on oxycodone or another drug, it is critical that 911 is contacted immediately. This can be a life-saving measure and reduce the risk of long-term health complications.

Risks & Side Effects of Mixing Oxycodone & Other Drugs

Mixing oxycodone with other drugs can be dangerous and increase the risk of severe side effects, overdose, and death. For example, alcohol and benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, can compound oxycodone’s sedative effects, possibly leading to respiratory depression and death. Alcohol use can increase the likelihood of sustaining liver damage. (5)

Also, some antidepressants, like SSRIs, can make oxycodone less effective and raise the risk of serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening. This can lead to irritability, confusion, stiff muscles, and an increased heart rate, among other dangerous effects.

When taken with oxycodone, antihistamines like diphenhydramine can cause sedation and increase the risk of severe respiratory depression and other side effects. When used together with oxycodone, other opioids like heroin and fentanyl can substantially increase the risk of overdose and death.

Co-Occurring Disorders Caused by Oxycodone Use

Oxycodone use has been associated with developing or worsening various psychiatric issues, some of which can be diagnosed as full-blown dual diagnosis disorders.

Oxycodone Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Disorders Include:

  • Anxiety disorders, including panic attacks.
  • Depressive disorders, including suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
  • Bipolar disorder, especially mania or hypomania.
  • Substance-induced mood disorders characterized by symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Personality disorders like borderline and antisocial personality disorder. (6)
  • Insomnia, especially difficulty falling or staying asleep.
  • Psychosis characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking.

Withdrawal Symptoms Caused by Oxycodone Addiction & Dependence

When the dose of oxycodone is significantly reduced or discontinued, withdrawal symptoms may occur. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and make it hard to stop using them without professional help.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms Include: 

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Sweating and chills.
  • Muscle aches and pain.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Anxiety and irritability.
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Restlessness.
  • Concentration difficulties.
  • Drug cravings.
  • Hyperalgesia, or increased pain.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline

  • First 24-72 hours—Onset of symptoms such as muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur.
  • Day 3-5—Symptoms tend to peak at this time and also include intense sweating, chills, anxiety, depression, and cravings.
  • Day 6-7—Symptoms begin to lessen in severity toward the end of the first week.

Week 2 and Beyond—By the end of the second week, the majority of physical withdrawal symptoms will have subsided. However, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) may persist for several weeks or longer. (7)

Treatment for Withdrawal Symptoms & Abuse of Oxycodone

Treatment for oxycodone withdrawal symptoms and abuse typically involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and support groups.

Examples of Treatment Options for Oxycodone Misuse, Addiction, and Withdrawal Include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment like methadone, Suboxone, and naltrexone can be used to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other behavioral approaches can help individuals deal with the stress, trauma, and negative thought patterns that can lead to oxycodone abuse.
  • Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery can help people in recovery feel safe and prevent them from relapsing.
  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment may be recommended, depending on the severity of oxycodone abuse and withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment gives people medical care and supervision 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Outpatient treatment allows individuals to engage in their normal daily lives while still receiving help and support.

Alternative treatments like massage therapy, mindfulness, and yoga may also help with withdrawal symptoms and overall health.

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  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21127-opioids
  2. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/brain-gets-hooked-opioids
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2018/03/what-does-it-mean-when-we-call-addiction-brain-disorder
  4. https://webarchive.library.unt.edu/web/20201218104509
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/opioid-overdose
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6241194/
  8. https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS

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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.

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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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