Oxycontin Addiction: The Dangers of Oxycodone

What Is OxyContin

OxyContin (oxycodone) is a powerful opioid painkiller that can be highly effective but is also associated with abuse and addiction.

This guide outlines the dangers of oxycodone abuse. Discover how addiction to OxyContin can develop rapidly and learn how to detox and recover from opioid abuse.

OxyContin is a branded form of oxycodone, an opioid and the primary ingredient in many painkillers designed to manage moderate and severe pain.

One of the most abused prescription drugs in the United States and one of the primary drivers of the U.S. opioid epidemic, OxyContin goes by many street names, including:

  • Oxy
  • OCs
  • Hillbilly heroin
  • Oxycotton
  • Killers


OxyContin is available in tablet form. The size and color of the tablets varies to reflect dosage. OxyContin comes in the following strengths:

  • 20mg
  • 40mg
  • 80mg


The tablets are intended to be swallowed whole to ensure that the controlled-release feature of OxyContin remains intact. Those who abuse OxyContin often bypass the time-release action of the opioid by crushing the tablets and snorting the powder. Alternatively, the tablets may be dissolved in water so that the solution can be injected intravenously. Both forms of abuse can be deadly with the full effects of the drug coming at once.

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance. Despite the medical utility of the substance, it also has a high abuse and addiction potential.

What Is Oxycodone Used For?

Due to the large dose of oxycodone in OxyContin that is gradually released over 12 hours, the medication is typically prescribed for long-term relief of severe chronic pain.

OxyContin is commonly prescribed to treat:

  • Cancer-related pain
  • Pain following surgery
  • Severe arthritis-related pain
  • Pain that is uncontrollable by weaker opioids like codeine or hydrocodone


Like all opioids, OxyContin can be highly addictive. Addiction (opioid use disorder) may develop even if you take oxycodone products as directed by your prescribing  physician.

A man sits on a couch with his hand on his head to represent Percocet withdrawal symptoms.

Oxycontin Addiction Symptoms

Taking opioids like oxycodone causes tolerance to form rapidly. This will diminish the effects of OxyContin. If you take more OxyContin or more frequent doses of the opioid in order to counteract tolerance, this will accelerate the development of dependence. Becoming physically dependent on oxycodone will lead to the presentation of intense withdrawal symptoms if you discontinue use.

OxyContin addiction can develop quickly, with the risk rising sharply after one month of use. The risk of OxyContin addiction is further heightened if you use more than one opioid like OxyContin.

The main factors that influence the development of OxyContin addiction and the rate at which it develops include:

  • OxyContin dosage: The amount of OxyContin you are prescribed, and the route of administration can heighten the risk of opioid use disorder developing. If you use more OxyContin than prescribed, this will hasten the onset of opioid use disorder.

  • Frequency of OxyContin use: Taking frequent doses of OxyContin can also increase the risk of opioid addiction developing.

  • History of substance abuse or mental health conditions: Those with a history of substance abuse issues will be at increased risk of developing OxyContin addiction. Individuals with a history of mental health issues are also at heightened risk of becoming addicted to OxyContin.

If you are concerned about oxycodone addiction, consult your prescribing physician.

Clinical Diagnosis

OxyContin addiction is clinically diagnosed as opioid use disorder according to the criteria in DSM-5-TR. DSM-5-TR is the revised text of the fifth edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This benchmark diagnostic tool contains the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders (drug addictions) including opioid use disorder.

These are the eleven symptoms of opioid use disorder:

  1. Are you spending lots of time obtaining and using OxyContin, recovering from its effects?


  2. Have you tried and failed to moderate or discontinue use of OxyContin?


  3. Have you often taken more OxyContin than planned, or have you used OxyContin for longer than intended?


  4. Have you experienced intense cravings for OxyContin?


  5. Are you neglecting personal and professional commitments as a result of OxyContin use?


  6. Are you continuing to use OxyContin even though it is causing problems in your personal relationships?


  7. Has tolerance to OxyContin developed so that you require more of the opioid to achieve the same effects?


  8. Are you spending less time doing things you once enjoyed in favor of using OxyContin?


  9. Have you used OxyContin in potentially hazardous situations?


  10. Have you experienced withdrawal symptoms when the effects of OxyContin subside?


  11. Are you still using OxyContin even though it is causing or worsening a mental or physical health condition?


OxyContin addiction (opioid use disorder) is diagnosed according to the number of criteria that present as mild (2 to 3 criteria), moderate (4 to 5 criteria), or severe (6 criteria or more).

Signs Of Addiction

OxyContin addiction signs will vary from person to person. Some markers for opioid abuse may be detectable soon after the initiation of opioid therapy. Other signs may not become apparent for months.

If you notice a cluster of these signs in a loved one, monitor for the development of addiction in the form of opioid use disorder.

These signs may indicate OxyContin abuse:

Side Effects of Oxycontin

If OxyContin is abused, there is a risk of respiratory depression and seizure. Other side effects of opioid abuse may include:

Long-Term Side Effects

If you need to take opioids like OxyContin long-term, you are likely to develop physical dependence on opioids. This means that dosage may need to be increased to manage pain over time.

A long-term effect of OxyContin in some people is hyperalgesia – heightened sensitivity to pain. If this occurs, consult your physician so that your dose can be tapered gradually to mitigate these symptoms.

Perhaps the most damaging of the long-term effects of oxycontin is addiction in the form of opioid use disorder.

Short-Term Side EFfects

The short term effects of OxyContin are much less damaging, even though they are aggravating. They may include:


  • Itchiness
  • Rash
  • Sickness
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Confusion

Don’t Let OxyContin Addiction Hold You Back

Recover from OXycoNtin Addiction with Gratitude Lodge

OxyContin Withdrawal

If you have been using oxycodone products like OxyContin long-term, it is probable that you are physically dependent on the substance. When you moderate or discontinue use, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will present.

OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are a physical and psychological response from your system as it struggles to cope in the absence of opioids.

Factors such as the scope and severity of OxyContin abuse will influence the onset and duration of OxyContin withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms will typically manifest from six hours to thirty hours after the last use.

Complications from dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea can be dangerous in a non-clinical environment. There is also a high risk of relapse during home detox. A supervised medical detox will mitigate the intensity of OxyContin cravings and withdrawal symptoms, while also providing continuous clinical and emotional care.

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Withdrawal Symptoms

Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Sweating
  • Tearing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose

Detox Program

OxyContin detox is the first vital stage in the recovery process, and it is always advisable to withdraw from oxycodone under medical supervision.

An OxyContin detox program can help in the following ways:

  • Addressing physical dependence on OxyContin

  • Streamlining OxyContin withdrawal

  • Identifying and monitoring underlying medical conditions

  • Preventing relapse by reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and by providing a bridge to ongoing therapy

  • Offering education about relapse and overdose during early recovery

  • Enabling MAT (medication-assisted treatment) for OxyContin addiction in ongoing treatment

OxyContin Abuse Treatment

The most effective Oxycontin drug rehab involves a combination of FDA-approved medications and behavioral interventions.

Detox addresses the issue of physical dependence on OxyContin. Ongoing treatment allows you to tackle the psychological component of opioid use disorder. What happens during OxyContin treatment, then?

What Happens During Treatment?

OxyContin addiction can be challenging to unpack. The overarching goals of OxyContin addiction treatment include improving both physical and mental health while encouraging ongoing abstinence from opioids.

Treatment begins with detox, a process that typically lasts for one week. Treatment then continues in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment) is proven effective for treating opioid use disorders like OxyContin addiction. MAT is likely to be a central component of most people in recovery from OxyContin addiction. Methadone or Suboxone may be effective for alleviating the intensity of withdrawal symptoms during OxyContin detox. Methadone may also be beneficial throughout ongoing treatment for opioid addiction.

Medication-assisted treatment will be combined with behavioral interventions like counseling and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). You will learn how to identify what triggers you into using opioids. You will also discover how to implement positive coping mechanisms, guiding you toward the positive behavioral change you can achieve by moving beyond opioids.


Our Partners


Drug and alcohol detox should be accessible to everyone. At Gratitude Lodge,
we work with most insurance plans to cover the costs of treatment.

Our Oxycontin Rehab

If you need Oxycontin addiction treatment, we can help you at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. We have pet-friendly rehabs located in San Diego, Long Beach, and Newport Beach.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment centers offer supervised medical detox programs. Take advantage of this to withdraw from OxyContin at our accredited opioid detox center. You can then move directly into ongoing treatment. Choose from the following treatment programs:

  • 30-day inpatient program (residential rehab)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment program
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Heal from OXyCodone Abuse and Start Fresh

Gratitude Lodge Treatment Programs

All Gratitude Lodge opioid addiction treatment programs involve personalized treatment that may include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy


Due to the high relapse rates of opioid use disorder, your treatment team will equip you with a comprehensive aftercare plan.

Call admissions today at 888-861-1658 for immediate assistance with OxyContin detox and ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment in Southern California.

OxyContin Addiction FAQs

Opioids like OxyContin, morphine, heroin, and fentanyl work similarly in the brain. Opioids bind to receptors in the spinal cord and brain. These receptors are known as:

  • Mu opioid receptors
  • Delta opioid receptors
  • Kappa opioid receptors

When these receptors in the brain are activated, perception of pain is reduced and feelings of euphoria are triggered.

OxyContin is a time-release formulation of oxycodone that contains higher concentrations of oxycodone than immediate-release formulations. If OxyContin is used in ways inconsistent with the intended use – snorting or injecting the substance, for example – this will intensify effects, and will also accelerate the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

When comparing OxyContin vs oxycodone, OxyContin is a branded version of the generic oxycodone. OxyContin is a long-acting formulation, with the active ingredient being gradually released, providing up to 12 hours of pain relief from a single dose. Oxycodone is a generic opioid medication that comes in many formulas, including immediate-release, extended release, and combination products.