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Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction

OxyContin, Roxicodone, OxyIR and Percolone (drugs classified as oxycodone systemic) may have more serious side effects because they contain straight oxycodone without the addition of less powerful analgesics like acetaminophen. Recent research shows significant opioid overdose risks are associated with mental and mood disorders, circulatory disease, respiratory disease and respiratory failure, chronic pain diagnosis, acute alcohol intoxication, alcohol-related disorders and hepatitis. Even at modest dosing levels for relatively short durations, prescription opioids can have serious health consequences.1

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the side effects of all opioid pain relievers are similar. The long-term side effects are unknown, although it is an established fact that long-term acetaminophen use can lead to liver damage, failure or death.2 The number of possible side effects is too numerous to mention herein. Below are a few of the more common signs of oxycodone use, ranging from moderate to life-threatening.

Physical Signs

  • Lethargy
  • Mild to severe drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Severe itching
  • Slurred speech
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling in hands or feet
  • Muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Diffuse muscle weakness
  • Cold symptoms (e.g. congestion or sore throat)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Slowed breathing
  • Death2,3

Psychological Signs

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety/dysphoria
  • Confusion
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Persistent interpersonal problems
  • Neglecting important work, school or family obligations
  • Intermittent euphoria and apathy
  • Problems with concentration or memory
  • Nightmares2,3

Additional oxycodone addiction signs include diagnostic criteria listed under opioid use disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Opioid use disorder is defined as the repeated occurrence within a 12-month period of two or more of 11 problems. These include withdrawal, giving up important life events in order to use opioids and excessive time spent using opioids. Having six or more of the 11 criteria indicates a severe addiction.4

Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal

Any person affected by an addiction to oxycodone will develop the symptoms of opioid withdrawal when use of the medication comes to a halt or tapers off rapidly. Early stage withdrawal indicators to look for include:

  • Unusual anxiousness or mental agitation
  • Sleeplessness
  • Unusually high sweat output
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Increased tear and mucus production
  • Achy muscles
  • Bone aches

In its later stages, oxycodone/opioid withdrawal can also produce:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Abdominal/stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Goose flesh or goosebumps
  • A compelling urge to start taking oxycodone (or some other opioid substance) again

Signs of Oxycodone Overdose

Many prescription opioid fatalities involve a combination of drugs. People who abuse opioids often take several kinds, or opioids in conjunction with other sedative substances like alcohol.1 Any of the following may be signs of an overdose and 911 should be called immediately.

  • Change or loss in consciousness
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Constricted, pinpoint or small pupils
  • Decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • No muscle tone or movement
  • Severe sleepiness
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat5
  1. Elzey MJ, Barden SM, Edwards ES. Patient Characteristics and Outcomes in Unintentional, Non-Fatal Prescription Opioid Overdoses: A Systematic Review. Pain Physician. 2016 May;19(4):215-28.
  2. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts Updated January 2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.
  3. OxyContin Abuse. Drug Abuse website. http://drugabuse.com/library/oxycontin-abuse/ Accessed January 19, 2017.
  4. Schuckit MA. Treatment of Opioid-Use Disorders. N Engl J Med. 2016 Jul 28;375(4):357-68. doi: 10.1056/NEJMra1604339.
  5. Oxycodone. Drugs website. https://www.drugs.com/oxycodone.html Accessed January 19, 2017.
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