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What Is an Oxycodone High?

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Oxycodone (brand name OxyContin) is a prescription drug commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain. It works by binding to certain receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This makes users feel less pain and experience feelings of well-being, or “high.” (1) Whether oxycodone is prescribed or illicitly obtained, it has a high potential for tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Overuse of this medication can easily lead to overdose, which can be life-threatening and require emergency medical intervention.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug use, it is critical to seek help from addiction specialists who can provide you with more information and an assessment to determine the severity of your condition. At Guardian Recovery, we offer highly-personalized treatment programs and a wide variety of evidence-based services and activities guided by licensed medical and mental health providers dedicated to providing individuals with the life skills they need to overcome addiction and reclaim their lives.

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What Is an Oxycodone High?

An oxycodone high refers to the euphoric and pleasurable effects many people experience when they use oxycodone. This high is often characterized by feelings of relaxation, pain alleviation, and a profound sense of well-being. Oxycodone can be safe and effective at reducing pain and discomfort when taken according to a doctor’s instructions. However, when misused or taken in excessive doses, oxycodone can be very dangerous and result in serious health problems, including addiction, overdose, and death.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid misuse or addiction, it is important to seek professional help before this condition becomes worse or life-threatening.

What Does an Oxycodone High Feel Like?

The high from oxycodone can induce various psychological and physical effects. These differ based on factors such as the ingestion method and the dosage.

Symptoms & Side Effects of an Oxycodone High Include:

  • Euphoria, or feelings of happiness and well-being.
  • Sedation and drowsiness.
  • Slowed breathing or respiratory depression.
  • Feelings of warmth and heaviness.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Confusion or disorientation.
  • Itching or rash.
  • Nausea
  • Constipation.
  • Reduced blood pressure.

How Long Does a High From Oxycodone Last?

The pleasurable effects and high of oxycodone vary in duration depending on multiple factors, such as the person’s tolerance, administration and dose, and the medication’s specific formulation. In general, however, its effects can be experienced within 15-30 minutes following oral use, reaching its peak in about one hour. (2)

Immediate-release oxycodone is intended to provide pain relief for 3-6 hours, whereas effects from extended-release formulations last up to 12 hours. The duration of the high can actually be shorter or longer than the pain relief, depending on the individual’s response.

How Does Oxycodone Cause Dependence & Addiction?

Oxycodone use has a high risk of dependence and addiction when it’s used in ways inconsistent with a prescription or for a prolonged period. Over time, the body may develop a condition known as tolerance, which means that more of the drug is needed to feel the same level of relief from pain or euphoria. If this leads to a trend of ever-increasing doses, this can dramatically raise the risk of dependence and addiction.

Even patients taking oxycodone via prescription can accidentally become dependent when it’s overused or used for an extended amount of time. Short courses of oxycodone taken in amounts consistent with a prescription have a lower potential for dependence than recreational use, but it can easily happen and is one of the primary reasons why the United States has been facing an ever-worsening opioid addiction and overdose epidemic for several years.

Dependence is a condition that occurs when the body adjusts to the presence of a drug over time and requires it to function normally. This can occur even when opioids are used as prescribed, as the body may develop a tolerance to the medication over time. When the medication is stopped or the dose is reduced, withdrawal symptoms may occur, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous.

If you are using oxycodone as a prescription, it is important to follow your doctor’s directions for taking prescription opioids carefully to minimize your risk for dependence. Furthermore, if you suspect you are already opioid-dependent, you are encouraged to seek addiction treatment to overcome this dangerous condition.

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Is Oxycodone Sold Illegally on the Street?

Yes, oxycodone is sold illegally, both from dealers and online. Due to its potent pain-relieving and euphoric effects, oxycodone is a popular drug of misuse. Illegally obtained oxycodone can be in the form of stolen prescription drugs or counterfeit pills manufactured to look like oxycodone but contain other substances. These imitations can be extremely dangerous, as they may contain other dangerous substances that can be lethal if ingested. It’s also important to stress that the illegal sale and distribution of oxycodone is a very serious criminal offense and can result in substantial legal penalties, including imprisonment. (3)

The Risks of Misusing Oxycodone

Oxycodone misuse comes with an increased risk of many short- and long-term consequences, including:

  • Addiction—Misusing oxycodone can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making quitting challenging.
  • Health Complications—Chronic oxycodone misuse can lead to a wide range of health issues, including liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal problems, and compromised immune system function.
  • Impaired Judgment—Misusing oxycodone can impair judgment and decision-making in the short-term, potentially leading to impulsivity and risky behavior and resulting in accidents and injuries.
  • Interactions with other drugs: Oxycodone can adversely interact with a host of other depressant drugs, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, increasing the risk of respiratory depression and overdose.
  • Overdose—Excessive oxycodone misuse can lead to respiratory depression, including slowed, labored, or stopped breathing. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Legal Issues—Obtaining oxycodone illegally can result in serious legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record.

Oxycodone & Opioid Addiction Statistics

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2019-2021, drug overdose fatalities resulting from any substance increased 1.5 fold from 70,630 to 106,700. (4) Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly fentanyl) also continued to rise, with 70,601 overdose deaths reported in 2021. (5)

Overdose deaths involving any opioid rose from 2010 (21,089) to 2017 (47,600) and again sharply in 2020 (68,630) and 2021 (80,411). (6) Drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids only, such as oxycodone, increased fivefold from 1999 (3,442) to 2017 (17,029). Between 2017-2019, the number of fatalities dropped to 14,139. (7) In 2021, this number rose again, with 16,706 total opioid overdose deaths being reported. (8)

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If you regularly misuse oxycodone to get high, you have an opioid use disorder. This is a serious condition, but it is very treatable when addressed through evidence-based tools and services. You are urged to pursue professional treatment to help you overcome this condition, especially if you’ve developed tolerance and dependence. The most current and innovative approaches to substance misuse include comprehensive residential and outpatient programsindividual and group therapies, and holistic activities, such as meditation and yoga.

If you reach out to Guardian Recovery, you can speak with a skilled Treatment Advisor who can explain our streamlined admissions process and full continuum of care. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation assessment and health insurance benefits check, and get started on your journey to a healthier, drug- and alcohol-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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