Tuesday March 31st 2015

Can you overdose OD on oxycodone?

Can you overdose OD on oxycodone?

Can you overdose on oxycodone?

Yes. It is possible to overdose on oxycodone, especially when oxycodone addictive effects compel you to increase dosage or you begin mixing alcohol with oxycodone.  Here we review what happens to the body when you overdose, as well as what medical interventions help treat an oxycodone OD. If you need more help, we invite your questions about using oxycodone at the end.

What happens when you overdose on oxycodone?

Prescription painkillers like oxycodone work by binding to receptors in the brain to decrease perception of pain. The same chemical reaction in the central nervous system that cause pain relief, however, can also cause sedation and slow down a person’s breathing. So if you take larger doses of oxycodone (to either get high or to prevent withdrawal), these larger doses can cause breathing to slow down so much that breathing stops, resulting in a fatal overdose.

Note here that oxycodone overdose is more likely to occur 1-2 hours after using oxycodone rather than just after chewing, injecting or snorting oxy. If you take too much oxycodone, the three telltale signs of an overdose are:

  1. Bluish lips and nail beds resulting from lack of oxygen
  2. Slowed or shallow breathing
  3. Unresponsiveness to stimulation (nodding out)

How many oxycodone is too much?

It’s hard to say. How many oxycodone tablets that are too much for your body depends upon your current tolerance of and exposure to opiates or opioids. People who have had no exposure to opioids, however, can follow these general guidelines.

  • Opioid naive patients on immediate release oxycodone hydrochloride tablets are first prescribed only 5 to 15 mg every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain. Higher or more frequenting dosing can cause overdose.
  • Opioid naive people should not take more than 40 mg of a single dose of controlled release oxycodone or total daily doses more than 80 mg in a day.

Additionally, there are a few factors which increase your risk of overdose.

1. Tolerance – Regular use of oxycodone leads to greater tolerance so that you need more dosage to achieve the same effect (same high). Overdoses occur when people take oxycodone after a period of not using (abstinence) such as incarceration, detox or “drug free” drug treatment.

2. Mixing oxycodone with other drugs – Mixing oxycodone with other drugs, especially depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines can lead to an overdose. These combined drugs are “synergistic” or “additive”, so that the effect of taking mixed drugs is greater than the effect you would expect if taking the drugs separately.

3. Serious illness – If you have a serious illness including HIV/AIDS, liver disease, diabetes and/or heart disease, you are at greater risk for an oxycodone overdose.

Oxycodone overdose help

The main oxycodone overdose complication is slowed respiration.  The antidote to an oxycodone overdose is Naloxone (Narcan). Naloxone reverses an opiate overdose by blocking opioid receptors in the brain. The medication will wake a person who is overdosing in 3-5 minutes and will continue working for about 30–90 minutes, which is usually enough to prevent death even if no further care is provided.  Rescue workers are  trained to perform the following steps in the case of an oxycodone OD:

1. Provide stimulation. Yell the person’s name, shake the person and rub the sternum. The sternal rub is a very good technique to bring an oxycodone user back to consciousness. Make a fist and then rub the sternum (breastbone) with your knuckles in center of the chest, and apply pressure while rubbing. If there is no response after 15-30 seconds of doing a sternal rub, it is likely that the person is overdosing and requires immediate attention.

2. Call 911 or emergency medical services.

3. Check breathing and respond. If the person is not breathing, administer a few rescue breaths.

4. Administer naloxone.

5. Perform rescue breathing, if necessary. Tip the head back with one hand under the neck. Use the other hand to hold the nose closed. Make a seal over the mouth with your mouth and give two quick breaths; then one every five seconds. Continue rescue breathing until the person breathes on his/her own.

Overdose on oxycodone questions

Do you still have questions about oxycodone overdose? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions or refer you to someone who can.

Reference Sources: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses
NY State Department of Health: Opioid Overdose Prevention Guidelines for Training Responders

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13 Responses to “Can you overdose OD on oxycodone?
10:07 am April 27th, 2012

Apparently some people have a greater adverse effect after an opiod overdoes and it something to do with the kidneys, but what is it?

9:38 pm May 3rd, 2012

From my understanding of pharmacokinetics, people with kidney failure or kidney dysfunction will have a greater adverse effect after an opioid overdose–or any drug overdose, for that matter.

The kidney is the organ that excretes the drug from the bloodstream. (It gets the drug out of your body). In people with overdose AND renal insufficiency, not only is there too much of the drug in their body, but they can’t get rid of it properly.

Even during overdose, a person with normal kidney function will still be able to excrete the drug and get it out of their system. A person with kidney failure will not.

The drug then accumulates to toxic amounts, producing severe adverse effects.

(I think this what you were asking?)

1:16 pm May 9th, 2012

Thanks for the question, Deb. And the help with the answer, Cici!

4:12 am January 23rd, 2013

hello my husband takes 20 mg of oxycodone for his replacement. he stops breathin for a few seconds,, sweatin alot , pale , his also wheezein. what does this mean? im worried? he says his ok.. what longterm side affects will this have?

2:41 pm January 23rd, 2013

Hello Luis. It sounds like there are some major problems happening. Follow your instincts, and consult with your husband’s prescribing doctor. You can report the symptoms and see if he needs to reduce dose amount or frequency. If necessary, you can always call the Poison Control Center or local hospital emergency room if you think that your husband has taken too much oxycodone.

2:39 am August 3rd, 2014

I have recently given up 700 mg oxycontin after a 25 yr battle of backpain and addiction….I used 5 x80mg, 5x 40mg and a heap of liquid ordine…My local GP got busted for over prescribing so I had to find another Gp but could only find one that would prescribe Targin..Yuk ,what a shit drug..My question is now I have not had any Oxy for 7 days how much or less can I take for my back pain. I am worried about overdose…..I have a huge story if you would like to hear it .If it helps one person not go through what I have been through it will make those terrible WD worth it.


10:23 pm August 26th, 2014

I am 60 years old and weight 120 lbs. My doctor prescribed 15 mg. of oxycodone immediate release tablets every 4-6 hrs for back pain. Is this too much for someone opiate naive like me?

1:02 pm September 1st, 2014

Hello Lori. Thank you for your question. Here is what I found:
The initial dose of Oxycodone IR for adults can be anywhere from 5 mg to 15 mg, and it’s usually taken orally every 4-6 hours. However, for the elderly patients the initial dose is set at 2.5 mg orally every 6 hours, and this initial dosage can be slowly increased over time if needed. Why don’t you ask for a second opinion or talk to a pharmacist at the local pharmacy for advise?

2:00 am November 6th, 2014

I am prescribed a 90mg dose of oxycodone every 6 hours. I have been on this dose for 2ish years. 2 hours after my normal dosage I accidently took another 60mg. I then realized I had grabbed the wrong pills. That has been well over an hour ago. I feel normal. I was tired before my regular dose 3.5 hours ago so I am tired. Do I need to worry about overdose or anything? If so, for how long? Can I fall asleep? Thank You for your help.

2:47 pm November 6th, 2014

Hello Brandee. You’ve probably developed quite a high tolerance for oxycodone at this point. If you start to notice drowsiness, slowed breathing or heart rate, call emergency services. Or, call 1-800-222-1222 to be connected with the Poison Control Center for a professional assessment of your overdose risk.

Chris B
4:44 am November 24th, 2014

I was prescribed oxycodone 10/325 after a surgery for pain in March of 2014. The pill is white and is imprinted with a333. Does this mean it has 10 mg of oxycodone? I have not taken any since April. I recently sprained my back and have these pills left over. If I take 10 pills at once could I overdose and die, or will it just make the pain stay away longer? How many is too many?

2:07 pm December 3rd, 2014

Hi Chris B. Yes, the oval white oxycodone with A333 imprinted on one side, and blank on the other is 10 mg. If you haven’t taken any of these pills since April, you’re tolerance levels have dropped. So, by now you have no tolerance to Oxy at all. Taking 10 pills at once will be too much and possibly dangerous.

12:40 pm December 14th, 2014

my brother has been battling a kidney stone and was prescribed oxycodone-acetaminophen 10-325 after norco didn’t touch the pain. he was medicated (with i don’t know what) at the ER and sent home. 4 hours later we gave him the prescribed 2 pills at 8pm. he was fine. then another dose at 12am midnight. At 4am I found him blue lipped and unresponsive (would not wake up at all) with a horrible snore and shallow breaths. I called 911 and they deemed it an overdose. We later were told he had a small heart attack at some point. There were only 4 pills gone out of the bottle of 30 and nothing else was taken (My brother never even takes tylenol for a headache). His kidneys were functioning fine before this but now they aren’t. Has anyone heard of this happening? We are at a loss and doctors aren’t telling us anything.

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