How much oxycodone causes overdose?

It is difficult to say. How much oxycodone is too much depends upon your exposure to opioids and opiates, as well as the type of oxycodone you take (controlled release vs. immediate release). More on the variables which can cause oxycodone toxicity here.

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Oxycodone doses always start low and then gradually increase as your body’s tolerance to opioids builds. But how much oxycodone is too much will depend on a number of personal factors, including your medical condition, your age, your current exposure to opiates or opioids and other medications you are taking.  If you are getting high on oxycodone, risk factors for possible overdose increase.  More here on how much oxycodone doctors prescribe, and a section for your questions about oxycodone dosing principles at the end.

Oxycodone Dosages

The available strength of oxycodone will depend upon what type of time release oxycodone you take, and whether or not it is combined with other medicines. Sometimes, oxycodone is prescribed in immediate release form and has a duration of action of 3-4 hours. Other times, oxycodone is prescribed in controlled release form, which increases duration of action to 12 hours. Still other times, oxycodone is combined with other non-steroidal analgesics like aspirin or acetaminophen.

1. Generic immediate release oxycodone – Generic oxycodone tablets are available in strengths of 5 mg, 15 mg, or 30 mg.

2. Generic controlled release oxycodone – Oxycodone controlled release tablets are also available as oral tablets. As a generic tablet, this opioid analgesic can be supplied in 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg tablet strengths.

3. Brand name oxycodone formulas – Oxycodone is also found as the main pain relieving ingredient in brand name drugs. One of these drugs offers time release oxycodone (OxyContin addictive qualities are of particular concern). Another offers oxycodone and aspirin (Percodan). While still another combing oxycodone with acetaminophen (Percocet snorting also increases risk of overdose). The available strengths of oxycodone in each of these brand name medications follow.

OxyContin = 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg, 160 mg
Percodan = 4.8355 mg
Percocet = 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg

How much oxycodone is safe?

This question is a little difficult to answer.

The amount of oxycodone that is safe for you depends on your body’s current exposure to opioids. The starting amount for people who have never taken opioids is different than those who are already on opioid therapy. And doses will depend upon whether oxycodone is in immediate action or controlled release form. Furthermore, as doctors increase doses, they consider a number of different variables.

Oxycodone Immediate Release Dosage

Starting doses of immediate release oxycodone for opioid naïve people start low. People who have not been exposed to opioid analgesics are usually started on immediate release oxycodone hydrochloride tablets in a dosing range of 5 to 15 mg every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain.

As with any potent opioid, doctors then adjust the dosing regimen of oxycodone for each person individually, taking into account medical history, especially as pertains to analgesic pain medications. Doctors pay particular attention to current daily dose, the degree of opioid tolerance, general medical condition and adverse side effects when increasing dosage.

Oxycodone-Controlled Release Dosage

Starting doses of controlled release oxycodone in opioid naïve people are conservative. Doctors usually prescribe a starting dose of 10 mg of oxycodone controlled release tablets for people who require continuous around-the-clock therapy for an extended period of time.

And as with immediate release oxycodone, if a person is taking opioid medications prior to taking oxycodone, doctors factor in the potency of the prior opioid relative to controlled release oxycodone in order to calculate total daily dose (TDD) of oxycodone. As a guideline, the total daily oxycodone dose for controlled release tablets can usually be increased by 25% to 50% of the current dose at each increase, once every day or two.

How much oxycodone can you take at once?

Again, the answer to this question will depend upon how opioid tolerant your body is and how much/what type of opioids you are currently taking. There are, however, a few guidelines doctors follow when dosing oxycodone. Doctors know how long it takes for oxycodone tablets to dissolve in the stomach, release drugs to the bloodstream, and reach the brain. So not only does oxycodone dosing take into account the general metabolism of the drug, but doctors also consider a person’s weight, how long they’ve been prescribed the medication, and what other medications they are taking.

Immediate release oxycodone single doses

It is important to follow prescription guidelines for immediate release oxycodone tablets to ensure safe dosing. Because immediate release oxycodone effects wear off 4-6 hours after use, these tablets are taken as needed and dosage strength and frequency are both important to follow in order to avoid toxicity. Single doses of immediate release oxycodone start at 5 to 15 mg every 4 to 6 hours and are increased according to need and doctor discretion as opioid tolerance builds. So safe dosing for opioid naive people is between 5 to 15 mg of immediate release oxycodone at once.

Controlled release oxycodone single doses

Single doses of oxycodone controlled release tablets are designed to provide longer term pain relief over a period of 12 hours. But controlled release oxycodone tablets SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN in doses greater than 40 mg to people just starting oxycodone. Instead, A reasonable initial dose of oxycodone controlled release tablet in patients who are not opioid-tolerant is 10 mg every 12 hours. Furthermore, 80 mg and 160 mg tablets ARE FOR USE IN OPIOID-TOLERANT PEOPLE ONLY. Safe dosing of controlled release oxycodone starts at 10 mg but always occurs in doses of less than 40 mg at once for “beginners” and then increases as opioid tolerance builds. Low initial doses are also indicated in special patient populations (older than 65, liver and kidney problems) and in people taking other central nervous system depressants.

How much oxycodone is too much?

Toxic levels of oxycodone in the system can cause your breathing and circulation to slow to the point where you heart just stops. Oxycodone overdose can occur by simply taking oxycodone too frequently or in too much quantity. But overdose on oxycodone can also occur by taking oxycodone other than prescribed (chewing oxycodone, snorting oxycodone, injecting oxycodone). When abused this way, these routes of administration change the way oxycodone act in the body.

Abuse of any kind of oxycodone poses a risk of overdose, but especially the controlled release tablets. When you facilitate the immediate release of a controlled release form of oxycodone (OxyContin) and crush/snort/inject the pills, a 12-hour dose hits the central nervous system all at once. In fact, thousands of deaths due to oxycodone overdose have been reported annually with abuse and misuse of Oxycodone HCl controlled release tablets. So if you are chewing, crushing, inhaling, snorting or injecting crushed oxycodone tablets, you put yourself at risk of oxycodone overdose.

How much oxycodone is fatal?

As with the above questions, the answer is relative to how tolerant your body already is to oxycodone, opiates or opioids. However, a single dose of controlled release oxycodone greater than 40 mg, or total daily doses of of controlled release oxycodone greater than 80 mg, may cause fatal respiratory depression when given to people new to oxycodone. And to repeat, abuse of any kind of oxycodone poses a risk of death. Both immediate and controlled release versions of oxycodone are meant to be swallowed. Chewing, crushing, snorting or injecting oxycodone leads to rapid release and potentially fatal doses of oxycodone in the body. So snorting, inhaling, chewing or injecting oxycodone (especially controlled release versions) can kill you.

How much oxycodone should I take?

This may sound obviously, but you should take the amount of oxycodone prescribed to you by your doctor. Your doctor understands your medical history, knows what other types of medications you are taking, and understands the way that oxycodone works in the body. So, follow your doctors suggestions. If however, you think that you are taking less or more oxycodone than you should, only adjust doses after a clinical evaluation. Self-adjusting doses of oxycodone is not recommended and can trigger unwanted side effects, including withdrawal symptoms and/or overdose.

How much oxycodone questions

Do you still have questions related to oxycodone dosing? Please leave your questions below. We will be happy to respond to you with a personal and prompt reply ASAP.

Reference sources: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Criteria for Use of Controlled-release Oxycodone
Daily Med: Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Daily Med: OxyContin
Daily Med: Percocet
Daily Med: Percodan
NIDA for Teens: Facts on Drugs – Prescription Drug Abuse
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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