Oxycodone Drug Abuse: Signs and Symptoms, Detox and Withdrawal

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid medication prescribed for the relief of severe pain. It is usually available in tablet form, although is also found as a liquid suitable for intravenous or intramuscular injection. Alongside its medicinal uses, as with most opioids oxycodone – provided under brand names including OxyContin and Percocet – has extremely pleasurable euphoric and narcotic qualities, and as a result is used and abused recreationally.

Unfortunately, as is also the case with other opioids, oxycodone is extremely addictive both physically and psychologically; moreover, even one solitary instance of oxycodone consumption can lead to (potentially fatal) overdose. In the UK, oxycodone is a class A controlled substance, with serious penalties including imprisonment for possession, and life imprisonment for supply. Common street names for oxycodone include blues; Oxys; Percs; the OC; kickers; and others.

Effects Of Oxycodone Addiction

For many people, their first contact with oxycodone comes when the drug is prescribed to deal with acute and/or chronic pain conditions; oxycodone’s ability to relieve pain is profound, and many people find themselves becoming reliant upon the drug in order to live even an approximation of a pain-free life. As a result, psychological addiction can develop very quickly – unfortunately, physical dependency also takes hold very rapidly, and a few weeks’ consuming oxycodone is enough to give rise to a firm addiction. Meanwhile those taking the drug recreationally may not require its analgesic benefits, but the extremely pleasurable euphoric “high” can itself cause the compulsion to use oxycodone repeatedly, with a similarly rapid onset of addiction inevitable.

Physical dependency takes hold when the system of someone consuming oxycodone for any length of time becomes adjusted to the presence of the drug; its absence will then produce negative symptoms (see “Withdrawal and Detoxification” below) which can only be dispelled by consuming more oxycodone. When this occurs the user is now an addict, and their life will now become dominated by the procurement and consumption of oxycodone – and in order to get hold of the drug they may resort to extreme measures including criminal activity, so strong is the compulsion to consume oxycodone and so unpleasant is withdrawal from the drug.

Meanwhile, as they become more fixated upon oxycodone consumption, relationships with loved ones, professional life, finances and their health may all suffer. Unless they are able to overcome their addiction, they are likely to become increasingly isolated and extremely likely to suffer serious depression as drug abuse replaces everything they may once have valued and held dear.

Signs And Symptoms Of Abuse

Unless an oxycodone user is injecting the drug, which produces puncture marks and bruises, there may be no immediate visible signs of drug abuse if they have not consumed the drug recently, or if their dosages are relatively low. However past a certain dosage oxycodone abuse causes visible intoxication, including drowsiness and even unconsciousness – which may be a sign of overdose, which can prove fatal if the affected user does not receive immediate medical attention.

If someone is addicted to oxycodone, there may be numerous non-physical signs of their addiction. For example, they may resort to “doctor shopping” (going to numerous different doctors to obtain prescriptions oxycodone so as not to alert any individual doctor to their addiction); engage in frequent deceit to friends and family about the extent of their drug habit; or resort to criminal behaviour, possibly including theft and/or prostitution, in order to obtain money to purchase oxycodone on the black market.

Other signs include: erratic sleep; withdrawal from an active social life and increased isolation; constant money worries; deteriorating performance at work or academically; frequent absenteeism; a loss of interest in activities such as sex or sport which were previously important to them; and the breakdown of key relationships including those with partners, parents or children.

Withdrawal And Detoxification Process

Because oxycodone is physically as well as psychologically addictive, withdrawal – which occurs when an addict stops taking oxycodone and their body readjusts to their absence within their system – can be especially uncomfortable and unpleasant. Any addiction treatment must nevertheless begin with a period of detoxification (“detox”), during which the addict’s body is cleansed of all substances of abuse. Withdrawal can be hazardous for the addict’s physical and mental health – many opioid addicts have become so depressed during withdrawal that they have committed suicide, while others who have relapsed in order to escape the worst symptoms of withdrawal have overdosed fatally because of taking larger doses than their systems could then tolerate – and as a result it is strongly advised that, if you are an oxycodone addict, you do not attempt to go through detox at home and/or by yourself.

Having the assistance of qualified medical professionals is considered absolutely indispensable. Partly because of this – alongside a host of other reasons – residential rehabilitation for Oxycodone (“rehab”) is considered the safest and most effective environment in which to go through detox. The presence of highly qualified medical team providing 24/7 therapeutic support can make withdrawal immeasurably more comfortable and infinitely safer.

Oxycodone Detox Timeline

Every case of addiction is different, and the process of withdrawal will vary from one addict to another depending on a range of factors including the length and severity of addiction, the dosages being consumed, and the physiology of the addict. Therefore it is impossible to provide a “one size fits all” withdrawal timeline that describes all cases. Nevertheless the following may be considered a rough guide to what to expect from oxycodone withdrawal.

  • 1-2 days: Cravings for more oxycodone may begin a few hours after the last dose. After a day or so you will start feeling extremely irritable, even aggressive, and increasingly anxious as you crave more drugs. You will start feeling a sore throat and flu-like symptoms; fatigue will set in.
  • 2-5 days: The peak of withdrawal will see pronounced flu-like symptoms – nausea and vomiting, sweating and shivering – and extreme restlessness and agitation. Insomnia and muscle spasms and pains will contribute to a very low mood and extreme fatigue and lethargy, and potentially suicidal ideation. Cravings will be intense.
  • 5-14 days: The worst will have passed, and the above symptoms will decline in severity and frequency although fatigue insomnia and depression will likely persist. Cravings will re-occur although they will be less intense.
  • If symptoms persist past two weeks you may be suffering from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which may require therapy.

Treating Oxycodone Addiction

Since the proliferation of opioid abuse and addiction worldwide a large number of different treatment methods have emerged. Some of these are not endorsed by the medical community, and may be extremely dangerous to the user; do not embark on a course of treatment – especially one which you have found online without a recommendation from a doctor or addiction specialist – without consulting your GP.

Your GP should always be your first port of call and you may wish to discuss with them options such as private addiction counselling, NHS services and support groups. However, the consensus amongst the medical community is that rehab is the most effective treatment option for long-term recovery as only rehab provides a holistic combination of medically assisted detox, a variety of therapy models, dietary and fitness plans, peer group support and reliable confidentiality.

Detox & Rehab Benefits

Rehab has proven extraordinarily successful in helping countless oxycodone addicts to achieve long-term recovery. As opioids have become more and more prevalent and damaging across the UK, an ever-greater number of addicts are finding the help they need in rehab.

Some of the advantages of rehab include:

  • A medical detox, where highly qualified professionals will make the addict’s journey through withdrawal as comfortable and safe as possible.
  • Pleasant, peaceful surroundings in which an addict can focus wholly on his or her recovery.
  • A broad range of therapy options to ensure the most appropriate therapeutic care for each patient.
  • Group therapy, providing patients with a peer group of those who have been through similar experiences and can share advice and support.
  • Bespoke dietary and fitness plans, working on the principle of “healthy body, healthy mind”.
  • Complete confidentiality to ensure that patients need not be concerned about details of their condition becoming public knowledge.
  • One year’s free aftercare, providing supplementary support as the recovering addict readjusts to a drug-free life.

Getting Help

Over the last couple of years, the opioid epidemic in the Western world has come under the spotlight, and the extent of damage being caused by drugs including oxycodone has become clear. Thousands of people are dying each year as a result of opioid abuse, and countless more are suffering from the dramatic deterioration of their lives and the loss of treasured relationships. It is easy to despair if you are suffering from an addiction to oxycodone, as you see no way out and fear becoming just one more statistic.

However, do not despair consume you: there is help only a phone call away. If you are ready to acknowledge the addiction that has seized you and dedicate yourself to your recovery, our addiction specialists are waiting to take your call, and our world-class medical team at Primrose Lodge are ready to help you get back onto the path towards a happy healthy life. Call us today us and begin to turn your life around.

close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 9263