According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42 out of every 100 people received a prescription for oxycodone in 2020. This is a major drop from the number of prescriptions in years prior, but it’s still a significant amount. It’s a popular opioid drug because of its ability to stop pain signals that travel along the brain’s nerves. People usually take oxycodone for pain post-surgery or injury – especially if milder pain relievers, like ibuprofen, aren’t working. Because of its ability to produce a mild, euphoric high, this medication is often used recreationally.
People who take oxycodone build up a tolerance to it. This means they’ll need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects. This can lead to dependency, which can be dangerous. Taking too much of this medication can lead to overdose or death. The dependence on oxycodone or any opioid drug is referred to as opioid use disorder (OUD).
Side Effects of Oxycodone Use
Everyone reacts a little differently to oxycodone. For some, common and mild side effects are present. Others might experience an allergic reaction that can cause serious side effects. There are also side effects that come with using oxycodone long-term.
Common side effects include:
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
More serious side effects of oxycodone use include:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Loss of consciousness
- Blood in urine
- And more
The long list of side effects is partially why oxycodone use is restricted. When doctors prescribe it, it’s usually only for a few weeks. One of the problems is that opioids like oxycodone begin to change brain chemistry within days. Even if someone follows their doctor’s instructions and takes oxycodone as prescribed, it’s still possible to develop OUD.
Dependence on opioids like oxycodone can lead to long-term side effects. One of these unfortunate side effects is withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms people feel when they stop taking oxycodone or when they skip a dose is one of the reasons discontinuing use is so difficult. People fear the withdrawal symptoms, so they continue to take the opioid, even when it starts to interfere with their life.
Side effects of long-term opioid use include:
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic constipation
- Bowel obstructions
- Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation
- And More
The long-term side effects of OUD can be devastating. These side effects can lead to a decrease in an individual’s quality of life. They can cause a person’s mental and physical health to slowly decline. Using oxycodone for lengthy periods of time also increases the possibility of overdose. The dosage of oxycodone needs to gradually increase in order for people to achieve the same results. This puts people at risk for unintentionally taking too much.
What Are the Side Effects of Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms are one of the main reasons people continue taking opioids – even when people know the harm these drugs will cause. When someone uses opioids for a prolonged period, the brain becomes accustomed to the medication. The reward and pleasure centers of the mind are used to constant stimulation. Without oxycodone, the brain needs to retrain itself to feel pleasure in normal, healthy ways. There’s always discomfort involved in this.
Withdrawal symptoms can become dangerous. Here are some of the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal:
- Panic attacks
- Muscle aches and pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Inability to feel pleasure
Both physical and psychological treatment has been shown to decrease the severity and length of withdrawals. Medication can also be prescribed to lessen the symptoms and prevent relapse or overdose. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an option that can greatly lessen or entirely prevent withdrawal symptoms. It’s also important to remember that withdrawals don’t last forever. Withdrawal symptoms usually start about 8-13 hours after the last dose of oxycodone and peak (or get at their worst) around 3 days into the process.
How long withdrawal symptoms will last depends on a few factors like how long the person has been using oxycodone, how much they’ve been using, their mental health status, their physical health, and whether or not they were mixing oxycodone with alcohol or other drugs. Some people stop feeling withdrawal symptoms after just a few days, while for others, it can take weeks.
There’s also a small chance that the person discontinuing opioid use will experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). This can extend the life of certain symptoms, but it’s rare. People diagnosed with PAWS can feel withdrawal symptoms for months or even years following oxycodone cessation.
Treatment for Oxycodone Use or Misuse
If you or someone you know has developed an OUD, you’re not alone. According to the National Library of Medicine, over 16 million people have had or currently suffer from opioid use disorder. Treatment is available, and it can create lasting and meaningful recovery.
When it comes to oxycodone addiction treatment, there are effective options that have been shown to help. You may want to ask your primary care physician or psychiatrist to review your options. The length of time you’ve been taking opioids, how much you’ve been taking, how you’ve been taking them, and your past mental history should all be factored into your treatment decisions. Some people may do well with support groups, like Narcotics Anonymous.
Others need a little more help, so they may opt for an outpatient treatment program. There are also inpatient or residential treatment programs where you go and stay at a facility for round-the-clock care. Detox is another treatment option for those suffering from oxycodone withdrawals. At a detox facility, you’ll be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until your symptoms are manageable.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is also a popular option for opioid cessation. In MAT, you’ll receive medication while you attend either group or individual therapy. Some medications, like Suboxone® (buprenorphine), have been shown to decrease the symptoms of withdrawal and prevent relapse.
An effective MAT program will treat the patient as a whole, meaning both mind and body should be cared for. MAT can provide support for those looking to end opioid use both in the long term and in the short term.
The therapy you receive in MAT is something you’ll take with you for the rest of your life. In therapy, you’ll learn about your triggers (or the things that make you want to continue using oxycodone). Group therapy will allow you to lean on the support of others during your recovery, which has been very beneficial for people in the past. You’ll also learn ways to cultivate healthier habits, nurture healthier relationships, and form healthier thoughts.
At ReVIDA recovery®, we know that recovery can feel overwhelming or even impossible. We want to assure you that your dependence on opioids doesn’t have to last forever. There’s always hope for a healthy, substance-free life. To learn more, call us at (844) 972-4673. Our master-level clinicians are standing by, ready to help.
FAQs About Side Effects Of Oxycodone
What is oxycodone used for?
People usually take oxycodone for pain post-surgery or injury – especially if milder pain relievers, like ibuprofen, aren’t working.
Are there any severe side effects to taking oxycodone?
Unfortunately, yes. Oxycodone and other opioids will always have some side effects. The severity of these effects depends on how long you’ve been using it and how much you’re taking. Some common severe side effects include chronic constipation, heart palpitations, seizures, panic attacks, and high blood pressure.