Oxycodone Addiction & Treatment
By The Recovery Village
Medical Reviewer Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD | Editor Melissa Carmona
Last Updated: May 16, 2023
Editorial Policy | Research Policy
Oxycodone has made headlines over the past decade as a common narcotic implicated in the opioid epidemic. The drug is a powerful Schedule II opioid that is FDA-approved for severe pain. However, as an opioid, it has a high risk of addiction, abuse and dependence and the potential for fatal overdoses. Withdrawal symptoms can be a barrier to those who struggle with oxycodone and want to stop taking the drug. Fortunately, treatment options are available to help people reach an oxycodone-free life.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a Schedule II opioid that is FDA-approved for severe pain. It is available in multiple dosage forms and formulations, such as:
- Short-acting oxycodone is available in tablet, capsule and liquid form. The capsules are available in 5 mg doses, while the tablets are available in a variety of doses from 5 mg to 30 mg. Although the short-acting capsule and liquid forms of oxycodone are available as generic drugs only, brand names for the short-acting tablets include Roxicodone and Oxaydo.
- A short-acting oxycodone and aspirin combination is available in a tablet form.
- A short-acting oxycodone and acetaminophen combination is available in both a tablet and liquid form.
- Long-acting oxycodone is available in tablet form under the brand name Oxycontin and in capsule form under the brand name Xtampza ER.
Street names for oxycodone include:
- Hillbilly Heroin
New Jersey Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has deeply affected New Jersey residents. Between January and July 2020, there were more than 2 million opioid prescriptions filled in New Jersey. Sadly, in the same timeframe, there were also more than 8,700 naloxone administrations for overdoses and more than 1,800 overdose deaths.
Illicit prescription opioids are a particular problem where opioids are illegally prescribed without a medical reason or counterfeited. In February 2020, a doctor was charged for allowing patients to request their own opioid doses, including oxycodone products. One drug bust in August 2020 netting more than $1 million worth of counterfeit drugs. In other cases, oxycodone products have been trafficked into New Jersey from other states, as was the case in a Gloucester City drug ring that was broken up in August 2020.
Oxycodone Side Effects
Oxycodone has side effects similar to those of other opioids. These side effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
Taking an opioid (like oxycodone) over the long term can cause additional side effects. These include hormonal disturbances involving androgens and can lead to:
- Lack of sex drive
- Impotence or erectile dysfunction
- Menstrual problems
- Fertility difficulties
Signs of Oxycodone Abuse
As a person becomes dependent on an opioid, signs often emerge. Some warning signs of oxycodone abuse include:
- Changes in pupil size
- Sleep schedule changes
- Avoiding old friends and hobbies
- Having relationship problems
- Missing deadlines
- Having problems with responsibilities
- Being unusually financially strained
- Experiencing legal problems
- Having personality or mood changes
Signs of Oxycodone Overdose
Knowing how to respond quickly to signs of an oxycodone overdose can save a life. In 2018 alone, 215 people died from an oxycodone overdose in New Jersey. Symptoms of oxycodone overdose are similar to those of other opioids and include:
- Slowed breathing
- Flaccid muscles
- Cold and clammy skin
- Small pupils
An oxycodone overdose is a medical emergency and can quickly turn deadly. The opioid reversal agent naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, can help. If naloxone is available, you should administer it as soon as you suspect an overdose and then seek emergency medical attention. Even if the person who has overdosed starts to rouse, you should still seek medical attention as naloxone can wear off in as few as 30 minutes. When naloxone wears off, the victim may slip back into an overdose.
Some oxycodone products contain other drugs which carry their own risk of toxicity and overdose. For example, oxycodone/acetaminophen products can cause acetaminophen overdose. Acetaminophen overdose is a medical emergency and cannot be reversed by naloxone. Overdosing on acetaminophen can cause permanent liver damage.
Withdrawal from Oxycodone
If you are dependent on oxycodone, stopping the drug cold turkey is not recommended due to a high risk of withdrawal symptoms. If you take short-acting oxycodone, withdrawal symptoms may start 8 to 24 hours after your last dose and may last up to 10 days. Long-acting oxycodone can cause withdrawal symptoms that start 12 to 48 hours after your last dose and may last as long as 20 days. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hot or cold flashes
- Muscle cramps
- Runny eyes or nose
Oxycodone withdrawal can be very hard to get through without assistance. Medical help is often necessary to ease your way through withdrawal so you can get oxycodone out of your system as comfortably as possible.
Several forms of drug detox exist that can help you stop taking oxycodone while minimizing withdrawal. Sometimes, a person can slowly taper off oxycodone with a doctor’s help and eventually discontinue the drug. Other people will need medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, with methadone or buprenorphine to avoid the urge to take oxycodone.
People who struggle with oxycodone may benefit from an inpatient drug detox program. In these programs, you can be weaned off oxycodone while receiving round-the-clock medical care. Participating in a drug detox program is especially helpful if you struggle with multiple substances since dependence on multiple drugs can make withdrawal more difficult.
Oxycodone Treatment Options
The staff at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper are experts in helping people overcome oxycodone addiction. We have multiple treatment options to help you towards your goal of a new life without oxycodone.
You can be weaned off oxycodone in a comfortable setting with round-the-clock medical care from our detox experts.
Your medical team can discuss your options for medically assisted treatment, or MAT, with methadone or buprenorphine to help you overcome your struggle with oxycodone.
Once your body is cleared of oxycodone, rehab can begin. We offer a comfortable inpatient setting where you can heal from your struggle with oxycodone and learn how to live life without the drug.
After residential rehab, you can transition back to the outside world. Outpatient rehab includes therapy to help you adjust to a substance-free life. Teletherapy may also be available.
After oxycodone rehab is complete, the lifelong process of aftercare begins. Aftercare offers support groups, help with sober living and relapse prevention training.
Many people who struggle with oxycodone also suffer from underlying mental health issues. Our therapists can help you overcome both your oxycodone reliance and any underlying mental health problems.
Related Topic: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab
Common questions about oxycodone include:
What is in oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opioid and is, itself, the active ingredient in oxycodone-containing products. Some pain-relieving drugs combine oxycodone with other substances, like acetaminophen or aspirin
How long does oxycodone stay in your system?
Oxycodone can be detected in your body for different time periods, depending on what is being tested. After your last dose of oxycodone, the drug is present in urine for up to 3 days and in saliva for up to 2 days. A 1.5-inch section of hair can show if oxycodone was taken in the past 90 days.
What is the difference between Oxycontin and oxycodone?
Oxycodone can be short-acting or long-acting and is the active ingredient in products based around it. The long-acting form of the drug is sold under the brand name Oxycontin.
How much oxycodone is lethal?
Different people can tolerate different amounts of oxycodone. A lethal oxycodone dose for a person who has never taken an opioid before would likely be far lower than a lethal drug dose for a person who has taken high doses of opioids for years. Mixing opioids like oxycodone with other drugs like benzodiazepines generally makes the dose more dangerous, as well.
What are the withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone?
Withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone are similar to those of other opioids. They include psychological symptoms like anxiety and insomnia and physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, cramps, sweating and diarrhea.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.
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