Oxycodone is a powerful opioid drug that has many similarities to heroin. Oxycodone is created in a laboratory through chemical means while heroin is extracted from a poppy plant using natural methods. People know that heroin is addictive, but oxycodone is addictive too.

Oxycodone is designed to reduce pain. The drug achieves this through the stimulation of a chemical pathway in the brain known as the dopamine pathway. When a user takes oxycodone, the body releases dopamine in response. The body’s reaction is often in proportion to the amount of drugs the person takes. In the beginning, a person can take oxycodone and feel a flood of dopamine. As a result, he experiences euphoria. Over time, the body changes its internal chemistry, and the person must take higher doses of oxycodone to feel the same result.

People who abuse oxycodone may experience withdrawal symptoms between doses of the medication. Their bodies are no longer producing dopamine and other chemicals without a prompt from oxycodone. The body then requires the drug to function normally.[1]

These withdrawal symptoms can vary a bit from person to person, but often they include:

  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Watery eyes
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Stomach pain or nausea

It might be easy to dismiss these symptoms of withdrawal as mild and as an appropriate consequence for people who abuse oxycodone. It’s important to note, however, that these symptoms and brain changes are often quite severe. Withdrawal symptoms area potential roadblock that can keep a person from healing if they don’t have help with the process.

Risks of Abuse

People who abuse oxycodone often crush the tablets, mix them with water and inject the solution into their veins. This allows the drug to move directly into the user’s bloodstream, and the effects of the drug are often felt within minutes when users try this method. This is an extremely dangerous practice because of the risk of infection as well as potential damage to the brain, lungs and heart.

In addition, people who abuse oxycodone face a high risk of overdose. This medication is very powerful. When you ingest hours of medication at one time, your body doesn’t know how to respond. This kind of substance abuse is similar to drinking an entire bottle of wine in five minutes. The results are unexpected, and often not pretty.

This risk of overdose has been raised even higher with the inclusion of a generic version of the drug. In the past, oxycodone was a patent-protected drug made by one manufacturer. The pills were made in several doses including 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg forms. Each pill was clearly marked with a number that indicated the strength of the medication.

Signs of Use

People who use oxycodone as prescribed by their doctors may have no side effects from the medication. By contrast, people who abuse the medication may feel a variety of side effects including:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Irregular breathing[2]

Oxycodone users may also seem extremely relaxed or sedated. Some people may fall asleep while talking or wandering about in a bit of a daze. In addition, the addict may ask for money or steal household items in order to buy drugs. Some addicts see multiple doctors in hopes of receiving multiple prescriptions for oxycodone. The addict might also start to miss school or work because of drug abuse. All of these symptoms should be considered signs of abuse.

Differentiating people who take oxycodone for medical reasons and those who are addicted to oxycodone can be difficult, but a few simple rules apply. A study found that of those admitted to a detoxification program, 78 percent did not use oxycodone for any medical reason.[3] In other words, these people did not have a prescription for the drugs, and they weren’t using the drugs to treat an underlying problem. Instead, they were using the drugs in order to get high.

People who legally take oxycodone to treat painful conditions have a prescription, and their doctors monitor their use. They don’t exhibit many side effects, and they don’t take the drugs for enjoyment. This group does not display addictive behavior. However, people who take the drugs on a recreational basis are often candidates for addiction treatment.

Treatment Can Help

Addictions can be persistent and hard to deal with alone, but treatment is available to help you with oxycodone addiction. At Michael’s House, we combine medication therapies with counseling to help you remove the drug from your system. You will learn to build a new life without drug use. These therapies are proven to be effective and can make a world of difference.

Please call now if you need help with an oxycodone addiction. We can help turn the situation around and assist you in moving forward on the road to life-long sobriety.


1 “Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal.” Medline Plus. 20 April 2016. Web. Accessed 1 June 2017.

“Oxycodone (Oral Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic. 1 March 2017. Web. Accessed 1 June 2017.

3 Carise, Deni et.al. “Prescription OxyContin Abuse Among Patients Entering Addiction Treatment.” NCBI. American Journal of Psychiatry. November 2007. Web. Accessed 1 June 2017.

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