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Effects of Oxycodone

upset, drug addicted woman sitting at a table

Though oxycodone was initially created as a prescription opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain, it quickly became a substance that made headlines across the nation due to its misuse and addictive nature. The drug has both short and long-term effects on those who misuse it or become addicted.

What is Oxycodone?

Before sparking headlines as the leading cause of a nationwide opioid epidemic, oxycodone was the primary active ingredient in pain killers like OxyContin® and Percocet®, often prescribed to patients to treat pain. Some medicines use it in combination with acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen, all consisting of a different brand name. Its medicinal use was commonplace, treating everything from wisdom teeth extractions to surgical recovery, and even chronic pain.

Short-Term Effects: sedation, reduced nervousness, relief of pain, mild euphoria.

Patients using the medication as directed will experience the relief of pain that oxycodone was created for. Many patients also experience mild symptems including mood changes, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, flushing, nausea, constipation and weakness. Those who misuse the medication by taking larger doses than advised to experience a euphoric high can spur the occurrence of continued misuse and eventual addiction.

In 2017, approximately 1.7 million people were found to be prescription opioid-dependent, based on the DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorder.

Long-Term Effects: With continued misuse the body’s tolerance grows, requiring more and more of the drug to prevent the body from feeling the highly uncomfortable effects of withdrawal. There’s also a higher risk of liver damage, mainly if oxycodone is used in combination with acetaminophen and alcohol. Those who are prescribed oxycodone for long-term pain management will have significant risks as well that should be discussed with a doctor such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. Those who misuse the substance, however, will often reap the worst of the potential long-term effects.


As with any opioid, once a person lowers their dose or ceases to use the drug all at once, they will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that often lead them back to use. These symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Muscle and joint aches

The effect of oxycodone use beyond its medical necessity often brings dependency and addiction to the user. The US has begun to restrict how readily doctors prescribe the medicine, according to the new opioid prescription guidelines.

Those who may find themselves dependent or addicted to oxycodone can seek treatment through an outpatient facility. Medication-assisted treatment is the most effective method in treating opioid use disorder for long term success.

Contact BAART Programs for Assistance

If you have an opioid addiction, BAART Programs or one of our partners can help you. Learn more about our opioid use disorder treatments by contacting our staff today.

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