Friday October 24th 2014

Is oxycodone addictive?

YES. Oxycodone is addictive.

But what makes oxycodone addictive (oxycodone high effects of euphoria, for one)? And how do you know that you’ve become addicted to oxycodone or not? We review these questions here and invite your questions about the addictive potential of oxycodone at the end.

What is oxycodone used for?

Oxycodone hydrochloride is indicated for the management of moderate to severe pain. The prescription pain pill comes in immediate release or controlled release formulas, and is also available in combination with other analgesics such as ibuprofen, aspirin or acetaminophen. When taken as prescribed, oxycodone can offer analgesic effects as needed or around-the-clock pain relief.  How much oxycodone is safe depends on your exposure t opiates or opioids.  Likewise, oxycodone overdose amount varies by individual opiate tolerance.  But when taken for euphoric effect or to get high on oxycodone, this prescription medicine can become addictive.

What is oxycodone made of?

Oxycodone is derived from the opium alkaloid, thebaine. It is synthetically created in laboratories and is made into a white, odorless crystalline powder that become a tablet. Because oxycodone is synthetically produced, it is technically called an “opioid” rather than an “opiate”.

How addictive is oxycodone?

Oxycodone is very addictive (pharmacologically, or chemically speaking). The drug shares potent mu opioid agonist properties and has an abuse liability similar to morphine. Oxycodone produces a significant central nervous system effect, which has been correlated with addiction. This is one of the main reasons that oxycodone is classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the Controlled Substances Act, the highest level of control for an FDA approved drug.

Nonetheless, addiction liability of any drug includes many factors and not just the pharmacological properties of the drug. Social and cultural trends can play a major role on the availability distribution of oxycodone. Some factors that influence the addictive-ness of oxycodone can include:

  • ease of synthesis
  • extractability
  • illegal diversion history
  • knowledge of oxycodone action
  • oxycodone availability
  • oxycodone prescribing attitudes
  • state laws or local controls on oxycodone

Oxycodone dependence vs. addiction

Still, just because you become dependent on oxycodone does not mean that you are addicted to it. In other words, there is a difference between physical dependence and addiction. This distinction can be difficult to understand, particularly with prescribed pain medications like oxycodone. So, to simplify you can think of it like this:

Physical dependence on oxycodone = Tolerance to a oxycodone (needing more frequent or high doses in order to achieve the same pain relief effect) + withdrawal symptoms when you lower dosage or quit.

Addiction to oxycodone = Compulsive oxycodone use, despite negative consequences.

How do you get addicted to oxycodone?

Let’s first consider that you are taking oxycodone legitimately for pain. How do you know if you are taking oxycodone and not getting addicted to it? The main line between using oxycodone responsibly and abusing oxycodone is if you self-administer oxycodone doses, regardless of the original pain condition it was prescribed to treat. So if you start to enjoy the effect of oxycodone, and take it for effect rather than pain…you have crossed the line. You may become addicted to oxycodone.

In general, you can get addicted to oxycodone if you are taking oxycodone any way other than prescribed. There is a potential for drug addiction to develop following exposure to oxycodone, even during appropriate medical use. Although you are at higher risk of becoming addicted to oxycodone if you have been addicted to or abused other drugs or alcohol, or if you have a history of mental problems…if you make a conscious decision to take oxycodone to get high, you can become addicted to it. Your risk of getting addicted to oxycodone is higher when you:

  1. Chew oxycodone to prevent controlled release
  2. Crush oxycodone into a powder and either inject or snort oxycodone
  3. Take oxycodone in higher doses than prescribed
  4. Take oxycodone more frequently than prescribed

Signs of oxycodone addiction

Although doctors know that all oxycodone users can become physically dependent on oxycodone (developing clinical signs of tolerance and withdrawal), oxycodone addiction is characterized by psychological craving for oxycodone. In other words, if you need oxycodone in order to cope with the normal stresses of life, you may be addicted to oxys. Other signs of oxycodone addiction include:

  • continued oxycodone abuse despite negative consequences
  • craving oxycodone and using it compulsively
  • seeking oxycodone in order to quickly affect the “reward center” of their brains

Oxycodone addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about oxycodone addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: DailyMed: Oxycodone hydrochloride
FDA: Abuse Liability Analysis
FDA: OxyContin risk evaluation and mitigation strategy
PubMed: Abuse liability of oxycodone as a function of pain and drug use history

Leave a Reply

15 Responses to “Is oxycodone addictive?
Linda Cheek, MD
8:03 pm March 31st, 2012

You are wrong in your thinking. Addiction is not caused by a pill. Addiction is caused by anxiety, toxicity and poor living conditions without possibility of changing the situation. As people become more toxic they become luetic (homeopathic terminology)

It is because of this brainwashed thinking that the pill causes the addiction that good doctors like myself, have to fight the DEA and US Attorney’s office to get my patients the healing they need.

1:25 pm April 1st, 2012

Hello Dr. Cheek. Thank you for sharing your perspective. What kinds of treatment do you offer in terms of homeopathic medicine for drug (or any kind) of addiction?

Linda Cheek, MD
5:09 pm April 1st, 2012

Homeopathy gets to the cause of diseases energetically. Usually addiction is a byproduct of being in the Luetic miasm. Anxiety is another hallmark. In homeopathy we don’t treat disease, we treat the patient. We identify the miasm, temperament, constitution, family history and patient lifestyle. We then use remedies for the overall patient. As the person moves from luetism hopefully more into the psoric miasm, the addiction tendency is diminished and hopefully removed. Homeopathy is an individual medicine. No two people get the same treatment. Evaluation is necessary.

Tonya
1:45 am April 2nd, 2012

I just happened to come upon this post and about fainted when I read what you had written. I have been an addict for 8 years to opiate pain killers, physical and mental addiction. My addiction started after a year of being prescribed opiates for a broken ankle. I suffer from extreme anxiety and did long before my additcion. after getting off the pills in 2006, I had unfortunaltey been on klonopin for 12 years at this same time and in 2006 when I got off the pills my doctor takes my klonopin from me cold turkey. I withdrew for 6 weeks way worse than the opiate withdrawls. They refused to help me give me anything, so I soon found that the opiates releaved my anxiety and started again in 2008 after failed attempts to control my anxiety on my own. In 2010 I went to federal prison for bank fraud to furnish my funds to purchase my pills. I was recently released 7 months ago and have been clean for 18 months. My reason for writing is that I will always be an addict and have friends in the same spot I was in, and doctors do not offer any positive realistic help or hope, and of course now will not prescribe anything for their suffering. Yet they wonder why? This is an epidimic and it is ruining lives it did mine and it is a battle everyday to remember where I have been and practice coping skills to keep me sober.. It is not my fault someone kepy just giving me a pill, I had no idea I was addicted to klonopin. I just though it’s a pill I have to take to prevent panic attacks to have it taken and just be left to suffer was inhumane.. Now from prison I was given clonodine to help with anxiety but want to be off that also.. Thought maybe my stroy could help, sure can’t hurt. Just want to try to help others who have been violated by the pharmictical companies.

3:21 am April 2nd, 2012

Hi Tonya. Thanks for sharing more about your experience and addiction to prescription medications. It sounds like you did not set out trying to get addicted to drugs, but ended up in this place. I do hope that we can begin to ask doctors the same questions that you do. And that there are alternative options to both pain medication and help with withdrawal in the future.

Linda Cheek, MD
3:58 am April 2nd, 2012

I can sympathize with you, Tonya. As a physician that can treat pain and prevent addiction through homeopathy and other forms of alternative medicine, I would be the best prescriber out there. But the US government has it in for anyone that prescribes opiates. I’m a felon from a plea agreement the first time. They are attacking me again and I’m going to fight this time. I call myself the woman who fought city hall. And I’m going to win. God does not want me in prison. He gave me the gift to heal, and I know he will make sure I can do that. But the country needs to know the evil going on in our Justice Dept and I hope to show it through my trial.

You can also get help with cleansing the toxins that create the anxiety and addiction from my website, lindacheekmd [dot] com. First, alkalinize you diet. Most Americans have anxiety from acidity in their diet–soda, fast food, no vegetables, etc. You can heal. It just takes work on your lifestyle.

Mike
9:36 pm March 13th, 2013

Hmmm. i was on oxycodone for 12 weeks and for pain relief only. i didnt experiance a “high” at all when taking it. but as soon as I stopped takin it expierienced extreme withdrawal. the shakes and my extremeties (arms and legs) went NUTS!! this lasted for the worst 4 days of my life. so dont try to tell me its only addictive when abused. i took a mere 10 milligrams 3 to 4 times a day. and like i said, felt absolutely no “high” or “buzz” from it at all.

2:06 pm March 15th, 2013

Hi Mike. It sounds like you may be confusing dependence with addiction. Your body can become chemically dependent on oxycodone without being addicted to it; this is why you experience withdrawal when you stop taking it.

BrooklynGal
9:13 am April 6th, 2013

I’ve been taking roxycodone 30mg orally for a year. Prescribed by a physician.Recently, I realized how physically and mentally dependent I’ve become and seeked help and support to get off. I have a family member holding onto my pills and distributing them to me daily. I am doing the tapering method and have been successful so far. I have been experiencing severe headaches lately in result. Mainly on the right side of the brain. Is this a side effect to the oxy or tapering? What headache medication can I use for relief? And any other advice about tapering would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.

Thans from The city that never sleeps. NYC Girl.

6:07 am April 10th, 2013

Hi BG. Hmmm. Headaches can be tricky, as they can be caused by a number of medical conditions. Yes, withdrawal from opioids can cause headaches. But it’s also possible that the roxycodone has been masking the headache for months now. Check in with a doctor about this. You’ll need an expert opinion and possibly see a specialist about the cause of the headache.

Barbara pitel
5:40 am August 20th, 2013

I really would just like some advice , I’m hoping that someone might have an answer for me. I’ve been o 30 oxy for years also on 80 Oxys too. My problem is that I have severe pain and without the medicine I find it very difficult to do things . This month I went over my limit and have severe withdrawals . My husband is really pissed and wants me off everything. I’m allowed to take 3. 80s a day and 3 30s a day. I told my husband to hold my pills and just give me 2 80s a day and that’s it. I just need something to deal with the pain. He is really pissed because I did to much lasts month and went through terrible withdrawal. Without the medicine it is very hard for me to do daily chores ,so I’m asking him to hold my pills and just give me 2 80s a day. He’s afraid I will go thru the withdrawals again and believe me it was not a pretty sight , I’m just trying to explain maybe some days ill need the 2 but maybe some days I won’t, I just want him to give it a try so that I could do everyday housework. Do u think I will get addicted to these if I do it this way the doctor allowes me 3 80s and 3 30s a day all I’m asking for are 2 80s on the days I’m not feeling well do u think this is fair

1:21 pm August 21st, 2013

Hi Barbara. Chemical/Physical dependence on OxyContin is different than psychological dependence. Good for you to recognize problems and seek help! If you take your pain meds as prescribed, you can avoid psychological dependence and while it’s normal to go through withdrawal upon cessation, it seems like you’ll need some major improvements in the pain department before you can totally stop taking Oxycontin for pain. Is this correct?

Sarah
9:52 pm July 11th, 2014

I’m trying to understand my risk of addiction or dependence to oxycodone. I’ve been prescribed 5mg for severe migraine. I get between 4-10 severe migraines in a month. I also take sumatriptan as a first course of action, but the side effects are uncomfortable. I want to use the oxycodone as my main pain reliever because I have no side effects from it, so that would be 5mg around 6 times a month. Is this enough to become dependent in any way? If so, I won’t bother asking my doctor for the switch. I don’t want to get approved for it either without knowing if it’s potentially dangerous.

2:09 pm July 24th, 2014

Hello Sarah. I’d suggest you speak about your concerns with a pharmacist. Dependence occurs usually after daily dosing for at least a couple of weeks or more, but the amount and frequency may bring with them some side effects you haven’t anticipated. Check in with a medical professional for a qualified opinion.

Dave
1:20 pm October 9th, 2014

My story is exactly like Mike’s. I was given OXY after my surgery to repair my torn rotary cuff (first 2 months of recovery were bad). I took the meds. for a bit over 3 months (the last month+ I did reduce the amounts I was taking). 5mgx2 for 10mgs. The last month I took 10 mgs a day expect on days I had PT which was only 2 days a week (I took a total of 20mgs for those days). About 2 weeks ago I ran out and OH MY GOSH, my body was a major mess. I wanted the drug SO DAMN BAD. The dependence this drug does to one is off the charts. And to think, I was taking such a small dose compared to what quite a few people take. On my 2nd day without, I was such a mess, I felt like climbing the walls of the house, could not sleep at all. I had 1 5mg pill left and I said I HAVE TO TAKE IT. Approx. 30 mins (this was about 11:15pm) after I took I sat in the chair and said YES. I was able to relax and fell asleep about an hour after taking it (VERY SCARY). After that, the next 4-5 days I was a MESS. I took Advil PM to try and sleep and nothing. At about day 4-5 I finally started feeling better. Today is day 8, and while I do feel much better, the mind still plays with you a bit, especially at times of discomfort/anxiety set in. In my humble opinion, Doctor’s MUST do a better job educating people on exactly how to take it and more importantly, how to SLOWLY get off the drugs. Cold turkey can be done (ME) but you must be STRONG and it’s not going to be pretty.

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