What Are Oxycodone and Oxycontin?

Commonly used street names are Hillbilly Heroin, Kicker, Roxy, Perc and Oxy.

Oxycodone, more commonly known as Oxycontin, is a prescription-only opioid medication for severe pain management  — other brand names include Oxypro, Tylex, Percodan (with aspirin), Reltebon and Zomestine. Oxycodone comes in various strengths starting from 10mg up to as high as 80mg tablets. When taken on prescription, constant reliance on this opioid creates a psychological and physical dependence, making addiction an almost inevitable consequence of using Oxycodone.  For recreational use, tablets may be crushed and snorted or dissolved in water to use intravenously. Another less common method of abusing this drug is heating it in foil and inhaling the vapours. Oxycodone is addictive even when taken as directed and highly addictive when not taken as directed.

Oxycodone Side Effects

Oxycodone is a powerful and highly addictive Class A drug that impacts the central nervous system, blocking pain signals. Once ingested, users tend to feel relaxed for between four and six hours, with extended-release tablets lasting up to 12 hours.  Someone experiencing the effects of Oxycodone will generally be very relaxed and drowsy and may drift in and out of consciousness

Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone, commonly used to treat pain following medical procedures or accidents, has a high potential for misuse and addiction. Initially, you may think you’re in control of its use, but the likelihood of it progressing into dependency and addiction is very real. More frequent and higher doses are often taken as tolerance builds up to experience similar effects. 

Addiction to opioids, such as Oxycodone changes brain function and structure, and research has shown a decrease in the amygdala volume, an area of the brain that impacts decision-making, motivation and emotions. Subsequently, addicts experience difficulty curbing impulses to use Oxycodone. Harrowing but true, this scenario can happen with just one pill. Once addicted, it is almost impossible to stop using, even when you realise the detrimental impact of your drug dependency on your physical and mental health. 

After prolonged use, Oxycodone can also be taken in an attempt to avoid withdrawal. The devastating reality of Oxycodone addiction is that it’s all too easy to fall into — and almost impossible for the user to recognise before it has a firm foothold. Whether psychological cravings or physical withdrawal symptoms drive you, an inability to control your use will result in an official addiction diagnosis. 

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Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

Abusing and addiction to Oxycodone can lead to behavioural changes — from neglecting personal appearance and hygiene, avoiding loved ones or neglecting work and family commitments to needing money and selling off personal items.

Symptoms of Oxycontin Addiction

Physical and psychological symptoms can vary, and some of the most common to look out for include the following:

Physical Shivering

  • Fever and sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Muscle stiffness or twitching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation 
  • Loss of coordination.

Psychological Symptoms

  • Agitation 
  • Confusion
  • Delusions 
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression and anxiety.

Oxycodone Addiction and Alcohol

Combining Oxycodone with alcohol amplifies its effects, and many people use alcohol to escape from distressful withdrawal symptoms.

Drinking alcohol with Oxycodone increases the risk of:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Overdose 
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Coma.

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At Step by Step Recovery, we are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care for each and every client, and our ultimate goal is to provide the tools you need to maintain a clean and sober life, free from prescription drug addiction.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

When you’ve been taking Oxycodone, your brain has become accustomed to it. But when that suddenly stops, withdrawal symptoms can be very distressing. The severity of these symptoms depends on how long you’ve been using the drug, dosage amounts taken each time, and factors like age or pre-existing mental or physical health issues. 

When you stop using Oxycodone, you may experience the following:

  • Cravings
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • Insomnia.

When you stop taking Oxycodone, your body will react with overwhelming intensity — this is known as the subacute phase and can last up to a week. The next two or three weeks may not be so severe, but they are still intense. Even after this period ends, you may continue suffering from post-acute withdrawal for months or years afterwards. This is why seeking professional help is critical to prevent relapse.

Addiction Treatment for Oxycodone

Oxycodone has the potential to be a life-altering substance, as even short-term use can quickly lead to addiction. Don’t let yourself get caught in its grip. You must pay attention to signs of dependence, like trouble going without or feeling anxious when your supply runs low. 

Addiction may seem far away if you think you’re still “in control,” but beware. It’s easier to be in denial about Oxycodone addiction than to recognise you are addicted. You may feel guilty or ashamed, but it’s important to remember that getting into an addictive situation often happens gradually and without us realising it. 

Struggling with an Oxycodone addiction can be difficult, but there is hope. Professional help from an NHS outpatient addiction treatment centre or drug programme is available. However, there are strict criteria and very long waiting lists for NHS-funded residential rehab.  

At Step-by-Step Recovery, we provide private residential rehab treatment in Essex for Oxycodone addiction. We provide non-judgmental support to help individuals beat addiction permanently. If you need advice about addiction, please complete our online assessment form or call our understanding team on 0800 170 1222 for free.

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Page revised in March 2023, by Matthew Reece, a certified PG cons diploma, a clinical Lead/ Senior counsellor at Step by Step Recovery.