Oxycontin Addiction: Effects, Signs, and Symptoms

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 9, 2023

Table of Contents

Are you or someone you know struggling with Oxycontin addiction? If so, it’s beneficial to understand the effects, signs, and symptoms of opioid addiction and seek help as soon as possible.

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This guide outlines the various aspects of prescription opioid abuse and the options available for treatment for those addicted to oxycontin.

What is Oxycontin (Oxy) Addiction?

Oxycontin, frequently abbreviated to Oxy, is a prescription opioid pain medication that is used to treat severe pain. Oxy contains oxycodone in extended-release form. While oxycodone is highly effective for short-term pain relief, it is a highly addictive substance that can trigger physical and psychological dependence. For these reasons, OxyContin is a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States.

Oxycontin addiction is clinically described as opioid use disorder, a condition that occurs when an individual continues to use opioids like oxycodone regardless of negative consequences and experiences withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the substance. Addiction can occur even with legitimate Oxycontin use, but the risk of developing opioid use disorder increases when Oxy is misused or taken in higher doses than prescribed.

Addiction to Oxycontin can have severe consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health, as well as their social and occupational functioning. It can also lead to financial problems, legal issues, and strained relationships with friends and family members.

Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to Oxycontin or any other opioids. While there is no cure for opioid use disorder, the condition responds favorably to science-backed interventions. Evidence-based treatment options for Oxycontin addiction include MAT (medication-assisted treatment), individual and group counseling, psychotherapy, and support groups. A personalized treatment plan can help you overcome prescription drug abuse, manage withdrawal symptoms, and improve your overall quality of life.

What Are the Effects of OxyContin on The Body?

Oxycontin abuse and addiction can lead to drastic effects on the body, including:

Respiratory Depression

Oxycontin can suppress breathing, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and ultimately, death.

Nausea & Vomiting

Oxy may provoke nausea and vomiting, especially in high doses or when taken in a way other than prescribed.


Opioids can slow down the digestive system and cause constipation, which can be severe and chronic in some cases.


Oxycontin can lower the seizure threshold, increasing the risk of seizures. Risk factors are greatest in those with a history of epilepsy or seizure disorders.

Liver & Kidney Damage

Taking Oxycontin can cause liver and kidney damage, particularly in cases of prolonged opioid abuse.

Increased Risk of Infections

Oxycontin and other opioids can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infections.

Coma & Death

Severe cases of oxycontin abuse can lead to overdose, coma, and death, especially when combined with other forms of substance abuse.

Signs of Oxycontin Addiction

Oxycontin addictive signs can be grouped as follows:

Physical Symptoms

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion

Psychological Symptoms

  • Increased irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Memory problems and forgetfulness
  • Hallucinations or delusion

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Hiding pill bottles or prescriptions to conceal drug abuse
  • Engaging in risky behaviors to obtain or use the drug
  • Secretive behavior
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased performance at work or school


Mood Changes

  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of well-being
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Depression or apathy
  • Mood swings or emotional instability


If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these signs of Oxycontin addiction, early intervention and treatment can prevent severe consequences and improve the chances of sustained recovery from opioid addiction.

Symptoms of Oxycontin Addiction

Medicine like OxyContin can be extremely addictive. Opioid use disorder (Oxycontin addiction) can be diagnosed using the oxycontin addiction symptoms outlined in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

Oxy addictive symptoms include:

  1. Taking Oxycontin in larger quantities than prescribed  or for longer than intended.
  2. Unsuccessful attempts to moderate or discontinue use of Oxycontin
  3. Spending lots of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Oxycontin.
  4. Cravings for Oxycontin.
  5. Ongoing Oxycontin use despite persistent social or interpersonal problems caused or inflamed by the effects of opioids.
  6. Failing to meet personal or professional commitments due to opioid abuse.
  7. Giving up or reducing important activities because of Oxycontin use.
  8. Using Oxycontin in situations where it is physically dangerous.
  9. Continued Oxycontin use despite knowing that a recurrent physical or psychological problem has been caused or exacerbated by Oxy.
  10. Tolerance, so that increased amounts of Oxycontin are required to achieve the desired effect.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms manifesting in the absence of Oxy.

If you or a loved one is experiencing these physical or behavioral symptoms of opioid addiction, it’s vital to seek professional help as soon as possible. A qualified addiction specialist can provide a comprehensive assessment and recommend an appropriate treatment plan for Oxycontin addiction. Like all addictions, opioid addiction is a progressive condition, so the sooner you get help, the more straightforward your recovery is likely to be.

Oxycontin Addiction Statistics

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report that over 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States between 2000 and 2019, with OxyContin being one of the most commonly involved prescription opioids.  

According to data from NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), an estimated 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers, including Oxycontin, for the first time in 2019. The most current NSDUH data indicate that of 14.3 million U.S. adults who misused prescription drugs in 2021, 8.7 million reported using opioids like Oxy.

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) state that almost 80% of those who use heroin previously abused prescription opioid painkillers like Oxycontin.

Oxycontin Addiction Treatment

Oxycontin addiction is a complex and aggravating condition that can have serious consequences if left untreated. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available that can help individuals overcome their addiction and achieve long-term recovery.


The first step in treating Oxycontin addiction is typically a comprehensive assessment by a qualified addiction specialist. This may include a physical exam, blood tests, and a review of your medical and substance use history. The specialist may also use diagnostic tools such as the DSM-5-TR criteria to evaluate the severity of the Oxy addiction and develop an appropriate treatment plan. 

The most effective treatment for Oxycontin addiction typically involves a combination of behavioral therapies, MAT (medication-assisted treatment), and support groups.

Behavioral Therapy for Oxycontin Abuse

Behavioral therapy can help you to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to your Oxy addiction. CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), motivational interviewing, and contingency management are some examples of effective behavioral interventions for Oxycontin addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

MAT is an integral component of Oxycontin addiction treatment. MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to help individuals manage cravings and symptoms of Oxycontin withdrawal. These medications are most effective when combined with behavioral therapy.

Support Groups

Support groups such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and Smart Recovery can also supplement evidence-based Oxycontin addiction treatment. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can connect with others who are also in recovery and receive ongoing support and encouragement.

In addition to these treatments, those struggling with Oxycontin addiction should address any underlying mental health issues that may be contributing to their addiction. Co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are common in individuals with substance use disorders and can be effectively treated through therapy, medication management, and integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

Oxycontin Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

Oxycontin addiction is a serious condition that requires professional treatment. If you or someone you know is battling opioid use disorder, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. An addiction specialist can provide a comprehensive assessment and recommend an appropriate treatment plan that addresses the individual’s unique needs and circumstances. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to overcome Oxycontin addiction and achieve lasting recovery.

Shortcut the process by engaging with our partial hospitalization program in Southern California. At Renaissance Recovery in Huntington Beach, we specialize in treating Oxycontin addiction in an outpatient setting. We offer a range of evidence-based treatments, including medication-assisted therapy, individual and group therapy, and support groups. Our comfortable and safe environment provides the necessary support for you to initiate a lasting recovery from OxyContin addiction.

Don’t let prescription drug addiction control your life. Contact Renaissance Recovery Center today to learn more about our Oxycontin rehab in California by calling 866.330.9449.



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.

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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