Oxycodone is a prescription opioid medication that treats moderate to severe pain. You may have heard it sold under its brand names Percocet or OxyContin. Because it has a high potential for abuse and psychological and physical dependence, it’s been classified as a Schedule II drug. This means that it must be prescribed and it is illegal to take this medication without a prescription from a physician.
Oxycodone is usually prescribed in addition to other medicines like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to help reduce pain.
Physical Effects of Oxycodone
Oxycodone is a pain reliever, so it can help reduce physical pain. It works by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain that are in charge of feeling pain. With oxycodone in your system, attaching to those receptors, your brain overrides the physical feeling of pain.
Each dosage may give you relief for about 12 hours, but then you’ll need another dose to get more relief. The tricky part is to take the drugs only as prescribed, even if you’re feeling more pain than you thought you would. The reason is that taking more of this drug as prescribed increases your chances of becoming addicted to it.
Mental Effects of Oxycodone
Most people that take oxycodone report feeling a sense of euphoria and deep relaxation when they take their dosage. While this is not the primary role of oxycodone, these side effects occur anyway and may cause some people to seek these types of effects compulsively. In doing so, some may become mentally dependent or addicted to the drug.
Of course, those that are taking higher doses of the drug or are abusing it has more of a chance of becoming addicted to it.
For example, if your doctor prescribes oxycodone for you at one pill every 12 hours, but you decide to take one every six hours, you run the risk of becoming dependent on it. Or if you double up on doses, you could become dependent or addicted to it, as well as suffer other harmful side effects. The point is to resist the temptation to misuse the drug.
Oxycodone Short-Term Effects
Taking oxycodone will produce short-term effects psychologically and physically. When you take your prescription as prescribed, you’ll likely experience:
- Feeling very relaxed or sleepy
- Less pain
- Less anxiety
Oxycodone Side Effects
Along with the desired relief that can come with oxycodone, some uncomfortable side effects can occur. Short-term side effects include:
- Feeling nauseous
- Dry mouth
- Less appetite
- Feeling overly tired
- Feeling weak
- Mood swings
Oxycodone Long-Term Effects
If you’re taking oxycodone long-term, you may experience these effects:
- An increased tolerance, requiring you to take a higher dose of the drug for the desired effect
- Agitation or restlessness
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Muscle or bone aches
- Liver or kidney failure
Keep in mind that more serious side-effects could occur that would require immediate medical assistance, such as:
- Pain in your chest
- Inflammation in areas of your body, such as face, tongue, eyes, feet, hands, or legs
- Postural hypotension
- Breathing problems, as your breath can slow to the point that it could be life-threatening.
Take note that mixing oxycodone with alcohol can increase the likelihood of serious symptoms or life-threatening overdose. If you’re taking oxycodone, refrain from drinking alcohol.
Can These Long-Term Effects Be Reversed?
Getting off of oxycodone can help you in many ways. You may wonder if stopping the drug can reverse any negative effects that have occurred, such as liver or kidney damage. While there is no guarantee that the effects can be turned around, some people have certainly altered the negative effects by getting off the pain pills. Others who have experienced damage to their organs were not able to reverse it.
It will largely depend on various factors like how long you’ve been using the drug, the dosage, frequency taken, whether other drugs were being abused, the extent of the damage, overall health condition, genetics, and more.
Becoming Dependent on Oxycodone
Because oxycodone is highly addictive, you may find yourself becoming more and more dependent on it. You might feel the need to increase your dosage because it’s not relieving your pain like it used to. This is not recommended, as the potential to become addicted increases this way.
It’s not just physical dependence though. You can become psychologically dependent on oxycodone too. This means that you crave the drug for the euphoric or relaxing sensation, rather than the pain-relieving effects. It’s important to watch out for both kinds of dependence, and if you have become addicted to oxycodone, know that there is treatment available.
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
If you feel you’ve become addicted to oxycodone or another opioid, please know that treatment is available to help you get off of the drugs. It’s likely that if you are addicted, you’ve tried getting off the medicine before to no avail. Maybe the withdrawal symptoms were just too daunting.
This is one reason it’s recommended to undergo a medically assisted detox with substance abuse professionals, such as at a detox or residential treatment center.
There you will be surrounded by addiction specialists who will taper or wean you off the drug, rather than cutting you off cold turkey. It’s easier to kick opioid addiction when you undergo a taper schedule and have the support of professionals who can help you recover.
Detoxing from opioids can usually be done in about a week to 10 days, depending on the taper schedule.
Once the detox stage is done, it’s customary to enter a residential treatment program for 30, 60, or 90 days. From there you could go on to outpatient treatment or follow up by attending support group meetings in your community.
If residential treatment is not an option due to work or family responsibilities, then perhaps outpatient treatment will work for you.
You’ll receive much of the same type of care, except you’ll commute to the facility rather than live there for the duration of treatment.