Oxycodone Side Effects: Short and Long-Term
Oxycodone is a prescription opioid analgesic that is used to manage moderate to severe pain by changing the way that the brain responds to pain.1 It is commonly prescribed as a combination product with other drugs such as acetaminophen and aspirin, with each combination having a different brand name.1 Oxycodone brand names include OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet, and Percodan. Street names for oxycodone include “oxy,” “kickers,” “blue,” and “hillybilly heroin.”1
Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that it has a currently accepted medical use, but also has a high potential for abuse, and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.2,3 Additionally, there is a high risk for addiction because opioids have a high addiction potential.
What are the Side Effects of Oxycodone?
When using opioids like oxycodone, there is always a chance of side effects, even when the medication is taken as prescribed. However, some of those oxycodone side effects may be more likely if oxycodone is not taken as prescribed or is misused. So, what are the side effects of oxycodone?
Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone
When taken as prescribed, oxycodone can be a very effective painkiller. However, for some people, even at prescribed doses its use may be associated with other effects, such as:1,3,4
- Mild euphoria.
- Reduced anxiety.
Oxycodone, like other opioids, has therapeutic effects that may also be accompanied by a number of unwanted side effects, including:1,3,4
- Slowed breathing.
- Cough suppression.
Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone
Long-term use of any medication, including opioids like oxycodone, can result in damage to different body systems. Long-term effects of oxycodone, and other opioids, may include:1,3,4
- Liver damage (when containing acetaminophen).
- Hypoxia (which can lead to coma, permanent brain damage).
Some of the most dangerous side effects of oxycodone use are associated with the breathing problems that it may create. A markedly slowed respiratory rate can quickly turn life-threatening, especially in overdose situations.3
Rapid effects of opioids like oxycodone are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol or other respiratory depressing drugs. The combined effects of such drugs could result in much higher risk of harm or death, particularly from severe respiratory slowing and overdose.3
Development of Dependence to Oxycodone
Over time, oxycodone can have many different effects—both good and bad. For some, oxycodone is very effective at managing their pain, especially for those suffering from chronic pain.
On the other hand, oxycodone can have detrimental impact on both mental and physical health and, especially when misused, can increase one’s risk of developing significant physiological dependence and addiction.
Oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has been determined to have a high potential for abuse and dependence.2 Dependence on oxycodone involves repeated use and occurs when the body is only able to function normally when the opioid is present.4 The absence of the opioid can cause discomfort, pain, and even withdrawal symptoms.4
With misuse or long-term use of oxycodone, there is an increased likelihood of overdose, although overdose can occur even with the first use. There are various oxycodone overdose symptoms. Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:1,4
- Abnormally constricted pupils.
- Limp or weak muscles.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Slowed or stopped breathing.
- Slow or stopped heartbeat.
- Cyanosis (blue color of skin, fingernails, lips, or mouth area).
- Cold, clammy skin.
- Extreme drowsiness.
- Loss of consciousness or coma.
It’s important to act immediately should you suspect an overdose. Learn how at Taking Action: How to Intervene During an Overdose.
Oxycodone Withdrawal and Treatment
There are several options for treating an opioid use disorder. The first phase of treatment will often involve medical detoxification. Opioid detox ideally should be managed with the help of a medical team, as opioid withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and may send the user back to using in avoidance of the symptoms.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms may include:3,4
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression.
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Muscle or joint aches and pains.
- Muscle weakness.
- Stomach cramps.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased heart and breathing rate.
- Flu-like symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, watering eyes, sweating, chills).
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
Treatment following detox may involve inpatient or outpatient treatment.5
- Inpatient. Inpatient treatment provides care 24 hours a day for those with substance use disorders. Inpatient programs can be connected to a hospital or in a substance use treatment facility.
- Outpatient. In outpatient programs, people live at home and receive services such as individual therapy, group therapy, and substance misuse education, at a treatment facility.
During that treatment, behavioral counseling and, in some cases, medications may be used as part of an individualized treatment plan.
There are several FDA-approved drugs commonly used in treating opioid use disorders. These medications may include:6
- Naltrexone: Blocks the activation of opioid receptors to decreases the likelihood of continued opioid misuse.
- Methadone: A long-acting synthetic opioid that helps with withdrawal symptoms and relieves drug cravings.
- Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist drug, buprenorphine can also stabilize someone in opioid withdrawal and decrease cravings.
The combination of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies provides an approach that treats the whole person.6
Finding Oxycodone Addiction Treatment Facilities
If you or a loved one needs oxycodone addiction treatment, help is nearby. Our rehab directory tool is an easy-to-use method of finding the right rehab for you. Simply enter your location into the search bar, and you will be presented with a list of nearby rehabs.
There may be other questions you have in the search for the right rehab. Our admissions navigators are available for support by phone at or online chat, 24/7. Ask about using insurance for rehab, other ways of paying for rehab, or other aspects of opioid addiction treatment. Call today to get started on your journey toward recovery.
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