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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 12, 2024 (Originally Published)

May 21, 2024 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

Oxycodone is prescribed for severe pain that requires opioid therapy, especially when other pain medications have proved ineffective or are not well-tolerated. Oxycodone is a narcotic analgesic that works by affecting the CNS (central nervous system) to alleviate pain.

Extended-release forms of oxycodone are not suitable for short-term pain management, like that experienced following surgery, nor should they be used for minor pain or when non-opioid pain relievers could suffice. It’s also not appropriate for intermittent pain or for as-needed use.

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Like all opioids, there are side effects of oxycodone, some of which can be severe, including potentially fatal respiratory issues. The effects of oxycodone can be intensified under certain conditions, such as when starting treatment, following a dose increase, in older adults, or in individuals with pre-existing pulmonary conditions. Read on to learn more about oxycodone effects and find out how to connect with compassionate and effective addiction treatment.

Common Side Effects of Oxycodone

Typical side effects of oxycodone can include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Eye redness
  • Facial flushing

Short-Term Effects of Oxycodone

The short-term side effects of oxycodone are mainly related to its pain-relieving properties, as it is designed to manage severe pain. That said, alongside pain relief, individuals may experience a range of effects due to its action on the CNS. These may include:

  • Sedation: Feelings of drowsiness or sleepiness, making it difficult to stay awake or alert.
  • Euphoria: A sense of well-being or happiness that can contribute to the drug’s potential for misuse.
  • Respiratory depression: Slowed breathing rate, which can be dangerous at high doses.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting, especially when beginning opioid therapy or after a dose increase.
  • Constipation: A frequent side effect due to the slowing of intestinal motility.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness: May occur as the body adjusts to the medication.

These effects can vary based on the individual’s health, dosage, and whether oxycodone is taken according to medical advice.

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Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone

The long term side effects of oxycodone, especially when the medication is misused or taken in ways not prescribed by a healthcare provider, can provoke serious health issues, including:

  • Physical dependence: The body may become accustomed to the presence of oxycodone, triggering the presentation of withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.
  • Cravings: Powerful urges to continue using oxycodone despite harmful consequences to health and well-being.
  • Tolerance: Needing higher doses of oxycodone to achieve the same level of pain relief or euphoria, increasing the risk of overdose.
  • Liver damage: Prolonged use of oxycodone can harm the liver, especially when oxycodone is combined with acetaminophen.
  • Mental health issues: Long-term use can cause or inflame mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.
  • Respiratory problems: Chronic use can lead to long-term breathing difficulties, especially in those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
  • Opioid use disorder: Addiction to oxycodone is described clinically as opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorder is a chronic medical condition that requires ongoing treatment and management. Central to oxycodone addiction is an inability to control opioid use.

Always follow medical guidance closely to minimize risks when taking oxycodone or any other opioid.

Treatment for Oxycodone Side Effects

Managing the side effects of oxycodone involves a combination of preventative strategies, medical interventions, and lifestyle adjustments.

Preventative measures and immediate relief

  • Constipation: Increase dietary fiber intake, stay hydrated, and initiate or maintain regular physical activity. Over-the-counter or prescribed stool softeners and laxatives may also be recommended by a healthcare provider.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding heavy or fatty foods can help. Ginger or prescribed antiemetic medications might provide relief.
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, and lightheadedness: Avoid operating heavy machinery or driving. Gradually sit or stand to prevent dizziness. If these symptoms persist, consult with a healthcare provider as a dosage adjustment may be necessary.
  • Itching, red eyes, or flushing: OTC antihistamines can alleviate itching. For red eyes, lubricating eye drops may offer some relief. If symptoms are severe or persist, seek medical advice.

Long-term management strategies

  • Dependence and addiction: Treatment may involve medically supervised withdrawal (detoxification) and participation in addiction treatment programs, including MAT (medication-assisted treatment), counseling, and support groups.
  • Tolerance: Regular review by a healthcare provider to adjust dosage or explore alternative pain management strategies can help manage tolerance.
  • Respiratory problems: Monitoring by healthcare professionals, especially in those with existing lung problems, to adjust dosage or switch medications if necessary.
  • Mental health support: Access to mental health professionals for managing depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues exacerbated by long-term oxycodone use.

Lifestyle and support

  • Healthy lifestyle: Focusing on a healthy lifestyle that includes balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest can improve overall well-being and help mitigate some side effects triggered by oxycodone.
  • Open communication with healthcare providers: Regularly discussing side effects and concerns with healthcare providers ensures that the treatment plan remains effective and safe.
  • Support networks: Leveraging support from friends, family, or support groups for individuals with substance use disorders can provide emotional support and encouragement throughout treatment.

Anyone taking oxycodone should closely follow their healthcare provider’s instructions and report any side effects or concerns promptly to adjust treatment plans as needed and ensure safe, effective pain management.

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Get Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

Oxycodone addiction can be disruptive and damaging, but it’s also highly treatable. We can help you achieve and maintain long-term abstinence from opioids like oxycodone at Renaissance Recovery in Southern California.

If you require assistance detoxing from opioids, we can connect you with detox facilities near you, enabling you to address the issue of physical dependence and prepare yourself for ongoing treatment at our rehab center in Huntington Beach, CA.

The outpatient nature of our treatment programs allows you to meet your everyday commitments while engaging with evidence-based opioid addiction treatment.

All Renaissance Recovery treatment programs offer a personalized blend of treatments that include:

Call admissions at 866.330.9449 and begin your recovery from opioid addiction right away.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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