• Statistics
  • Causes
  • Signs of Oxycodone Addiction
  • Overdose Symptoms
  • Who is Affected?
  • Doctor Shopping
  • Withdrawal Effects

Oxycodone is an opiate painkiller, which is prescribed for moderate, severe, and chronic pain. It is also used to treat the pain of terminal cancer patients. Oxycodone addiction is a serious problem, and is growing all the time. As an opioid, it is highly addictive and is classed as a narcotic which means that it can never be used without a prescription. Oxycodone also is known as Percodan, Oxycontin, and Tylox.

Opioid drugs such as morphine and heroin have long been known to have additive properties. However, we often consider illicit ″street″ drugs to be the real problem. However, the statistics do not bear that out. In 2010, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated that there were 329,000 heroin addicts in the United States. That same year, NIDA estimated that there were 1,900,000 (1.9 million) oxycodone addicts. This means there was more than five times the number of oxycodone addicts as there were heroin addicts. In 2010, the CDC estimated that 12 million people reported using prescribed painkillers for recreational, or non-medical use.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), over 26 million people abuse opioids (oxycodone, heroin, methadone, etc) worldwide. In the United States, about 2.1 million people suffer from substance abuse issues related to prescription opioids such as Oxycodone. Sadly, the consequences of this rise in drug use have been devastating, with overdose deaths related to prescription pain reliever use and abuse quadrupling since 1999.

Some of this can probably be attributed to the rise in opioid prescription rates. In the last 25 years, the number of opioid prescriptions for drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone (Vicodin) has risen from 76 million to almost 210 million.


There are many factors that determine whether a user of opioids will become addicted. Will someone use long enough to develop the dependence on the drug and the addiction? There is no way to predict how much a person must take before this happens. They may use once and instantly become addicted, or it may be a gradual thing that develops over time.

One of the first indicators that you are going to become addicted to Oxycodone is ‘drug liking.’ This phenomenon, explained by Thomas R. Kosten, M.D. and Tony P. George, M.D. is simple: when you do the drug, do you like it? Do you like how it makes you feel? For some people, opioids like Oxycodone are able to provide intense feelings of pleasure. Without these feelings, people are not likely to continue using the drug long enough to become dependent or addicted.

Other environmental factors and genetic factors like a predisposition to addiction all play a role in the cause of Oxycodone addiction, and it is nearly impossible to nail down a single cause for any one person.

Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

If you have been prescribed oxycodone and are concerned that you may be creating an oxycodone addiction, consider these warning signs:

  • Defensive about your use
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies you may have once enjoyed
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased motivation
  • Noted decline in social interaction

If you are experiencing these signs, it may be time to try to stop. If you are having difficulty stopping your use, then it may be time to contact an oxycodone addictions specialist such as a counselor or a drug rehabilitation facility. You may need to be admitted to undergo a medical detox where you will be kept as comfortable as possible while you go through the hardest parts of the detoxification process.

Overdose Symptoms

Oxycodone is very dangerous. Every year people overdose. In 2009, the CDC noted that 475,000 people were admitted to emergency rooms as a result of prescription painkillers. If you are using oxycodone, know that you bear a risk of overdose. Take note of these overdose symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Clumsiness
  • Weakness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Cold, clammy skin

If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. A medical technician can administer Narcan to stop the overdose and save a person’s life in a matter of seconds.
If you or a loved one are taking prescription pain medicines for any reason, make sure that no other substances are taken without a doctor’s approval. In particular, be sure to not use any tranquilizers such as valium or Xanax, and avoid alcohol at all costs. The interactions with these substances can be deadly.
Anyone who takes a prescribed pain killer is liable to develop a dependency to the substance, but certain members of the population may have enhanced risk. The following groups may have a higher risk of addiction:

  • Individuals with a family history of addiction
  • Medicaid recipients
  • People with a mental illness
  • Those with a personal history of addiction

Who is Affected?

Everyone in the addict’s life is affected by their use. Their immediate family and loved ones perhaps feel the brunt hardest, as they must witness a dear person undergo a transformation from a benevolent Dr. Jekyll to a wretched Mr. Hyde.

From the family, the problem often spreads outwards as the addict becomes remiss in duties at work, encounters problems with the law, and potentially begins to interfere with the work of doctors when he tries to ″doctor shop.″

Doctor Shopping?

A common feature of the prescription addict’s life is obtaining extra pills to keep from experiencing withdrawal. Often, to procure the drugs he needs, the addict will begin to visit doctors in hopes of obtaining less-than-honest prescriptions. Sometimes the addict will try to steal prescription pads from doctors. After a certain point, an opioid addict will stop at nothing to obtain his drug.

Withdrawal Effects

Part of the problem with an Oxycodone addiction, or any addiction to opioids for that matter is the fear of withdrawal. Opioids are one of the drugs that make significant changes to the brain of the user, and whether a person is addicted or not from a mental standpoint, they are going to be physically dependent if they have used for any length of time.

Here are some of the withdrawal effects you may experience, and these illustrate that it is even more important to have a detox by a professional.

  • Slowed breathing
  • Respiratory failure
  • Liver damage
  • Seizures
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Unintentional overdose

Not only will you surely have physical withdrawal symptoms, especially if you try to go it alone, but the effects the drugs have on you are far-reaching. Expect to face trouble with personal relationships (that is, if you have any left), divorce, homelessness, financial troubles and more• Try to stop the cycles of addiction before they cause too much harm. Help is available.

America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment


Interventionist Angela Pugh returns to KLEAN Radio. Topics of discussion include seasonal depression and using Oxycotin as intended.



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