Oxycodone is a prescription pain relief drug that’s available alone and in combination with other pain relievers. There are several brand names including:
Oxycodone is known as an opioid and can be addictive. If someone develops a dependence on oxycodone, it can require a long and uncomfortable withdrawal.
There are physical, psychological, and behavioral signs of oxycodone addiction including:
- using oxycodone too often or in too high a dose, even without the intent of misuse
- an inability to cut back or stop using oxycodone
- spending a large amount of time either acquiring oxycodone, using it, or recovering from it
- craving oxycodone
- an interference of home life, work, school, or recreational activities from the use of oxycodone
- an inability to stop using oxycodone even though the person knows it’s causing interpersonal problems
- continuing to use oxycodone even though the person knows they’re putting themselves in dangerous situations such as driving while under the drug’s influence
- the inability to stop using oxycodone even though the person has physical or psychological difficulties a result of overuse
- developing a tolerance to oxycodone, therefore requiring a higher dose for the required result
- suffering withdrawal symptoms when reducing regular intake of oxycodone
Symptoms of oxycodone misuse can include:
- loss of appetite
- dry mouth
- abnormal thoughts and dreams
When taken for pain relief, oxycodone can also trigger a rush of dopamine in the brain, causing a euphoric high. Although many people use oxycodone to manage pain following injury, illness, or surgery, some find themselves craving the euphoric effects. When their prescription expires, they tell their doctor that they still need oxycodone to deal with the pain, though it might be more about its mood-altering capabilities. This is one of the first indications of dependence.
Oxycodone vs. morphine addiction
Both morphine and oxycodone are drugs that alter the way you perceive pain. Both are highly addictive and both are routinely misused.
- Morphine, like codeine, heroin, and opium — is a natural derivative of the flowering opium poppy plant.
- Oxycodone, like methadone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, is a synthetic drug made to have the effects of the natural drug.
Today, the term “opioid” is used to describe both natural and synthetic types of these drugs. Regardless of their origins, both morphine and oxycodone have identical properties:
- Both work by attaching to proteins called opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are found in your brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. When opiates or opioids attach to opioid receptors, they change the way you experience pain.
- Both also interact with the reward system found in your brain. They activate neurotransmitters which result in a feeling of euphoria.
The nature and symptoms of a dependence on morphine or oxycodone are virtually the same.
Opioids like oxycodone address a medical necessity: persistent pain. Their addictive qualities have caused controversy and confusion about the role they should play in pain management.
If needed, you should only use opioids under the direct supervision of your doctor. They, with your input, will monitor dosage and your response, including the potential for addiction and misuse. You can also monitor your pain levels to see how you’re progressing and let your doctor know if your pain is decreasing.
If you think you or someone you know has an addiction to oxycodone, speak with your doctor. Learn more about the side effects and risks of opioid use disorders, including the signs of intoxication and overdose. Investigate potential treatment options. The more you know about oxycodone and how you react to it, the more likely you may be to avoid addiction.