The United States is inescapably caught in the grips of one of the deadliest epidemics that has ever swept our country, and the fires of this epidemic have been fueled and fanned by a recent surge in prescription abuse. The misuse, abuse, and subsequent dependency and addiction that results in just about every small town and big city in the US have cost countless lives of individuals using the substances and of those close to those with addictions. 

The most commonly abused prescription medications are those in the opioid family, either derived directly from the poppy plant or synthesized. While some of these drugs are the most effective pain control medications that modern science has created, they sometimes come at a very high cost to those prescribed. One of the opioids prescribed most frequently is Oxycodone.

Oxycodone is an opioid manufactured in pill form. It is designed and prescribed to help reduce severe pain levels or pain that cannot be effectively managed. It is also frequently used only for very short periods due to its incredibly high potential for dependency and addiction. The potential for dependency is so great due primarily to how Oxycodone acts upon the central nervous system.

Like all known opioids, Oxycodone is only prescribed for limited durations due to the intense chemical dependence that develops with long-term use, whether prescribed or illicit. Along with the potential for addiction, Oxycodone also presents a significant risk of serious and potentially deadly physical side effects and mental side effects that advance along with chronic or other long-term use. The result of abuse is a challenging, uncomfortable, and painful withdrawal stage that may require professional medical supervision.

What is Oxycodone High?

Oxycodone creates significant and intense changes in how the individual feels in the context of pain and sensation, as well as in the neurotransmitter levels and other brain chemistry. For those suffering from intense pain, taking Oxycodone as directed will not result in a “high” feeling or any sensations of euphoria. It will result in a dramatic reduction in the pain sensation the individual feels.

Oxycodone does this by interacting with receptors in the brain that also deal with pain and binds to them, helping to block them out. Simultaneously, it causes depression in the central nervous system, slowing down communication between the brain and body and many other physical processes like respiration. Attaching to these receptors also triggers the brain to release dopamine, a very powerful “feel good” chemical that begins the foundation of the chemical dependency that Oxycodone is known for.

When someone not living with severe or chronic pain takes Oxycodone recreationally or to “get high,” they will often feel a rush of euphoria that will last for a while. In some cases, the Oxycodone will be active in the individual’s system for up to 12 hours from ingestion. The duration and intensity of the Oxycodone can also be altered to an extent by the method of administration that the individual uses. 

Oxycodone comes in a pill, and when taken by mouth per the directions, it needs to enter the digestive system and be broken down enough to enter the bloodstream. When people use Oxycodone for its high, however, they will frequently crush the pills before taking them, or they may even inject the substance.

When users crush the pill and insufflate (snort) it, this allows for a much faster absorption through the blood-brain barrier. Since this allows the drug’s full effects to hit the system at once, this can bypass or circumvent any time-release or extended-release effects, making an overdose situation far more likely for some users. Those who dissolve the Oxycodone into a solution and inject it intravenously experience the most intense effects and the longest duration of effects.

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Signs You May be Addicted to an Oxycodone High

Since Oxycodone is a legitimate prescription medication used daily by millions of Americans, it may be hard to believe that you or someone close to you may become addicted. Nevertheless, it is a distinct possibility once the prescription is issued. Therefore, it is always a good idea to know the signs that may indicate an addiction to an Oxycodone high.

One of the most commonly reported signs of Oxycodone addiction is near-constant constipation due to the reduction in intestinal movement that results from use. This is also sometimes accompanied by stomachaches or cramps that may become painful since opioids increase the occurrence and strength of non-propulsive contractions in the digestive system. Additional signs that you may be addicted to an Oxycodone high include an itching sensation, dry mouth, and altered or abnormal thought patterns.

Behavioral changes you may notice in yourself or others with an Oxycodone addiction often include a reduction in an effort towards personal hygiene and grooming. In addition, the individual will often become secretive or defensive about their activities or whereabouts when they deviate from their normal routine or life activities. 

If the addiction resulted from a legitimate prescription that eventually ran out with no authorized refill, the individual might find themselves doctor shopping for another prescription or attempting to convince friends or family to get a prescription for them. This may advance to asking or begging for money from friends and family, then eventually into the theft of money or other valuables from those close to them. 

Those with an addiction to an Oxycodone high will also find that changes occur to their relationships in not just their personal life but their professional or educational life as well. Eventually, the addiction will cause damage to interpersonal relationships, along with the neglect of the individual’s school, job, and even domestic responsibilities.

Sometimes, there may be drastic changes to how individuals conduct themselves in public. This can include appearing intoxicated in public and participating in activities that would be deemed risky. Examples of this are driving under the influence of Oxycodone or engaging in other dangerous behaviors.

Side Effects of an Oxycodone High

Many side effects result from Oxycodone dependence or addiction. Some common side effects are the immediate reduction of hunger and overall appetite. While this effect is extremely common, its intensity will vary greatly, with some users failing to eat adequately for several months. 

The severity of the side effects experienced will frequently depend on the dosage the individual consumes. Often, users with a dose that is slightly too high can experience serious stomach cramping, nausea, and vomiting. With the strong feelings of personal detachment accompanying Oxycodone use, the individual may not display any visible concern for their behavior or appearance.

Many of the symptoms that users feel and the relative intensity will depend on the method of administration. The three most popular ways are oral administration, insufflation, and injection.

Oral Administration

When the pills are taken as prescribed, new users or those who accidentally misuse their Oxycodone prescription are at a significantly increased risk of overdose. This can be exacerbated by the relatively large delay of onset for the drug when taken by mouth, which may lead some users to take more before it has begun taking effect. 


When the pills are crushed and snorted, they can produce a more immediate and intense effect. However, the risk of infection and tissue damage with snorting is far greater since the fragments of the pill may appear small but can be rather large and jagged. The damage they subsequently cause to the nasal tissue and the sinus cavity can lead to chronic infection and even tissue necrosis.

IV Usage

Injection of a prepared Oxycodone solution is one of the most dangerous ways to administer Oxycodone. Not only is there an incredibly high risk of overdose since the substance is almost instantly introduced at full strength to the brain, but there are also the additional risks that come with intravenous drug use in general. While the onset is immediate and the effects last the longest of all administration methods, drug injection can also carry the constant risk of exposure to hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

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How to Get Help if Addicted to an Oxycodone High

If you or someone that you love may be addicted to an Oxycodone high, the most effective step you can take is to speak to an experienced addiction professional about recovery. Reach out today for a confidential conversation about leveraging qualified help in a safe and clean healthcare environment, where you can complete the detox and withdrawal stage with comfort and dignity.


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Manglik A. Molecular Basis of Opioid Action: From Structures to New Leads. Biological Psychiatry. 2020;87(1):6-14. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.08.028
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed June 30, 2022

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