Oxycodone Overdose Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Oxycodone is a prescription medication that is part of a class of drugs called semisynthetic opioids. Physicians will often refer to it by its brand name, OxyContin, while users themselves usually prefer the more informal moniker, Oxy. The drug is considered a moderate-to-high painkiller compound, or analgesic, that treats any number of pain-inducing injuries. Many individuals suffering from cancer are prescribed oxycodone as a means to manage their chronic pain. Like other opioids, this drug is plagued by a highly addictive disposition, and it has contributed to the vast opioid epidemic currently ravaging the United States. In fact, oxycodone tops all other opioids in number of recreational uses.

In the past decade, opioid prescriptions have reached rampant proportions. Millions of pills are overprescribed annually, leading to high abuse rates and the massive potential of these drugs finding their way into the hands of those that shouldn’t have them. State and federal governments are making concerted efforts to halt the spread, by introducing pill limits and putting in billions of dollars to combat the problem at every level.

Some trends show prescription opioid overdoses are declining. But this might not be such a cause for celebration. It seems that individuals are not choosing complete drug cessation but, rather, upgrading to cheaper and more potent opioid alternatives such as heroin and fentanyl. Pills like oxycodone are becoming catalysts, a springboard of sorts for future abuse and substance use disorders of deadlier toxins. It’s estimated that four in five heroin users began using with prescription opioids.

As it stands, the issue of prescription opioid overdoses is far from over. For many, oxycodone is the pill that comes to mind when picturing the traditional idea of pills. The hope, then, is that everyone can gain something of value from learning the symptoms of its overuse, just how much is too much, and the dangers oxycodone presents the body and society as a whole.

 Oxycodone Overdose | Oxycodone Overdose Treatment, Signs, & Symptoms
The question to end all oxycodone questions: can you overdose on the drug?

Without a doubt, yes.

There are plenty of ways in which someone might accidentally overdose on oxycodone. They crave additional pain relief and take too many pills. They mistake oxycodone with another medication or less potent opioid. They misread the prescription dosage on their bottle. Or perhaps they take excessive amounts of oxycodone to get high. Whatever the reason may be, overdose is certainly a risk.

Recreational and social users of the drug, some 11 million in this country alone, chase after feelings of euphoria and contentment when taking the drug in order to achieve a high. In the process, tens of thousands of these users find themselves in the emergency room each year because of oxycodone misuse.

Not only can an individual overdose on oxycodone, they can perish from it as well. In 2014, upwards of 19,000 individuals died from opioid prescription drug overdoses, including oxycodone. Those confounding numbers account for half of all opioid fatalities year after year.

As with most prescription medications, side effects may occur. This is always a possibility even when taking the recommended dose. However, when these limits are surpassed, an overdose may occur and certain symptoms may arise. These could include: constipation or unpredictable bowel movements, nausea and vomiting, gastrointestinal spasms or convulsions, drowsiness, erratic or shallow breathing, blue fingernails or lips, limpness, and unreactive pupils.

Opioids such as oxycodone affect parts of the brain that regulate breathing and other basic life functions. Symptoms should be given the attentiveness they deserve and a prompt reaction in response. Contact medical personnel right away if you or a loved exhibit even one of the above indicators.

Tolerance leads to more frequent and higher dosages in an attempt to feel the same effects. However, tolerance means that it takes more to get high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one’s body is tolerant to sudden increasing levels of toxins. Far from it.

Also, if a former user can no longer stay abstinent and relapses, they put themselves at a greater risk for an overdose. This often occurs because their tolerance is gone. A user will mistakenly use the same high dosage amount they were consuming before recovery and accidentally poison themselves in the process.

Clearly, tolerance is a tricky beast in its own right. It is why it can be so difficult to pinpoint just how much oxycodone it would take to fatally overdose. Each person is so different. First-time users can experience detrimental effects after taking more than 15 mg every six hours. More seasoned opioid users might not exhibit overdose symptoms until after several hundred milligrams in a day.

If you’re accompanying someone to the hospital following an oxycodone overdose, always be sure to bring the pill bottle along. Most prescription drugs look alike—doctors need to make sure their patient is overdosing on an opioid and not something else entirely.
Medical staff might administer the anti-opioid drug known as naloxone. This lifesaver suppresses opioid overdoses at the chemical level by blocking the same receptors the drug binds to. During treatment, victims may receive a breathing tube to unblock airways or have activated charcoal pumped into the stomach to neutralize the drug in the system. It may be weeks before an oxycodone overdose victim can return to their normal life.
Oxycodone Overdose Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
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