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Oxycodone Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Posted by Dr Terry Spokes
on 17 Jan 2022

Abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers is a growing problem. In fact, it’s estimated up to 12% of people who take strong opioids misuse them and as many as 29% develop an addiction. Known by the brand names Roxicodone®, Oxynorm® and OxyContin®, oxycodone is an opioid usually prescribed for severe or chronic pain following an accident, surgery or for advanced cancer. As well as delivering effective pain-relief, it also provides a euphoric effect, which can put users at high risk of developing an oxycodone addiction.  

Dependence on painkillers requires expert treatment by trained addiction specialists. Delamere residential wellness clinic in Cheshire helps guests to overcome the challenges of oxycodone addiction in a supportive and welcoming environment. Our holistic therapists offer a range of evidence-based therapies to treat prescription drug addiction, from clinically supported drug detox to one-to-one counselling. Here, we’ll discuss some of the common signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction to help you identify if you, or someone you care about, may need help. 

How common is oxycodone addiction? 

Opiate drugs are narcotic analgesics (painkillers) naturally derived from the poppy plant. Oxycodone is an opioid, which means it acts like an opiate in the body but is partly or wholly synthetic. Increasing use of opioids over the last 15 years has led to a rise in opioid addiction and related deaths. In the USA, approximately 130 patients die from an overdose of prescription opioids each day and, whilst fewer data are available in Europe, studies show painkiller abuse and misuse is also on the rise. 

The over prescription and aggressive marketing of opioid painkillers over the last 30 years correlates with increased use, abuse and addiction. In the 90s, opioids were only thought to be addictive when misused. Oxycodone has since been classed as a Schedule 2 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that although it can be possessed lawfully by anyone with a prescription, it has been identified as being potentially highly addictive. 

In recent years, the multi-disciplinary team at Delamere has seen a rising number of cases of  prescription drug addiction and have a proven, holistic approach to helping people overcome oxycodone addiction. Our clinical team are highly experienced at guiding people safely out of addiction in a non-judgemental and empathic way. All addictions start somewhere. We are here to help you find out why and plan the best path to recovery.  

How does oxycodone addiction happen? 

Like all opioids, oxycodone works by stopping pain signals to your brain and, at the same time, triggers the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters that make you feel good. When taken over time, a person may build up a tolerance to oxycodone and need to increase their dose to feel the same benefits. What begins as recreational use can quickly progress to a drug dependence. You may start craving oxycodone, feeling ‘not yourself’ without it or experiencing withdrawal symptoms. When oxycodone becomes a priority, starts to interfere with your personal relationships or affects your work, this is the point at which a short-term solution might become a life-threatening addiction.  

There are many other reasons a person may be more susceptible to developing an oxycodone addiction. Known risk factors include: 

  • Low income 
  • Unemployment 
  • Previous history of substance abuse 
  • Prior drug or alcohol rehabilitation  
  • Adolescence  
  • Female sex 
  • History of criminal or risk-taking behaviour 
  • Heavy tobacco use 
  • Severe depression or anxiety 

Anyone who regularly uses opioid painkillers is at risk of becoming addicted, but there is help available. If you feel like your reliance on oxycodone is getting out of control, always seek medical help.  

Worried about oxycodone addiction? Speak to the team Contact Delamere

Signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction 

Oxycodone is a legitimate prescription drug. It only begins to be abused when people take more than the prescribed dose or don’t take it in the method intended. For instance, someone might crush tablets to snort or inject them to achieve a bigger ‘high’. If you suspect a friend or loved one may be addicted to oxycodone you might notice they are obtaining more of it than they need. An oxycodone addict may resort to stealing, forging prescriptions or use several different doctors to top up their supplies. 

These behaviours may indicate the beginning of an oxycodone addiction: 

  • Taking too much oxycodone too often 
  • An inability to stop taking oxycodone 
  • Worrying about running out of oxycodone 
  • Experiencing regular cravings for oxycodone 
  • Using oxycodone in dangerous situations e.g. driving 
  • Needing more oxycodone to function 

Side effects of oxycodone abuse  

As an opioid, oxycodone delivers a similar effect to heroin leaving the user feeling happy, relaxed, confident and less anxious, however it can also cause drowsiness and dizziness. A person who is taking oxycodone in high doses might start to display physical side effects of oxycodone addiction, such as: 

  • Itching 
  • Sweating 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Confusion 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Breathing problems 

Long-term abuse of oxycodone can lead to psychiatric problems such as abnormal thoughts and strange dreams, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, depression, agitation and hallucinations. If you recognise any of these signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction in yourself or a loved one, it’s important that you seek professional help.  

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms 

Never stop taking prescription painkillers suddenly after taking them for a long time without consulting a medical professional. Around 12 hours after you quit oxycodone you may experience some unwelcome symptoms. The severity of your side effects will depend on many factors such as your dosage, treatment plan, current state of health and whether or not you are taking other medication. You may have any or all of these oxycodone withdrawal symptoms for up to 2 weeks: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Body aches 
  • Sweating 
  • Shakes or seizures 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • High blood pressure  

How can Delamere help with oxycodone addiction?  

At Delamere, we have a trained team of addiction specialists who are here to listen and help with any problems you may have. Recognising you have a problem with prescription painkillers is the first step to recovery.  

If you have been taking oxycodone in high doses, it’s important that you reduce quantities gradually to avoid dangerous, and sometimes life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms. We can assist with a safe, medically supported drug detox in our purpose-built treatment facility in Cheshire followed up with one-to-one therapy and group sessions to help you understand the source of your addiction. 

We are firm believers in taking a holistic approach to treatment for painkiller addiction. We understand every case is different and will help you to identify the root cause of your problems, identify any potential triggers and develop coping mechanisms to help you or your family member break free from oxycodone addiction.  

Call us confidentially to speak to our team today Contact Delamere


Vowles KE, McEntee ML, Julnes PS, Frohe T, Ney JP, van der Goes DN. Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis. Pain. 2015;156(4):569-576. doi:10.1097/01.j.pain.0000460357.01998.f1.  

What is the U.S. opioid epidemic? United States Department of Health and Human Services, Jan 22, 2019.  

About the author: Dr Terry Spokes

Dr Terry Spokes, Outcomes Director and Head of Recovery. Terry, a clinical psychologist tracks outcomes here at Delamere and heads up our therapy team.

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