Man who experienced Oxycodone Overdose

Treating Oxycodone Overdose

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Can You Overdose on Oxycodone?

Oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan) is an opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe pain.

A person who overdoses on oxycodone may take more of the drug than what is prescribed, or they may take it more often than prescribed. Other people overdose unintentionally while abusing the drug recreationally or intentionally to harm themselves.


Signs and Symptoms

Some oxycodone overdose signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Faint pulse
  • Shallow breathing, struggling to breathe, or not breathing
  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma 4

What to Do

Woman calling 911 after man falls from oxycodone overdose
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. If you have access to naloxone (an opioid overdose antidote) and have been trained on how to use it, administer it while you wait for emergency medical personnel to arrive.

Get Help Quitting Oxycodone

If you have an oxycodone addiction, call 1-888-319-2606

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First responders may ask the user’s height, weight, amount of medication taken, when it was last taken, and if it was prescribed for the person. If you have the prescription bottle, give it to the first responders. Call 911 whether you have this information or not.4

Risk Factors for Overdose
  • People who are on numerous medications, which increases the potential for adverse drug interactions
  • Combining oxycodone with alcohol, sedatives, or other opioid drugs.
  • New users of oxycodone who are unaware that even a small increase in dose can result in an overdose
  • People who stop using the drug and then start again, not realizing that their previous dose may now be too high due to reduced tolerance 2,3


Oxycodone Overdose Treatment

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An oxycodone overdose is a serious medical emergency. In many cases, a dose of the drug naloxone can be given to stop many of the effects of oxycodone and potentially save the user’s life.

Further testing and overdose treatments in the emergency room can include:

  • Placement of a breathing tube with mechanical ventilation.
  • IV fluids.
  • Urine and blood tests, and toxicology screening (for additional drugs, if present).
  • EKG, pulse oximetry, and other cardiac tests to assess heart functioning (and rule out cardiac causes of loss of consciousness).
  • Other medications as needed.4

Can You Die From an Oxycodone Overdose?

An overdose on oxycodone can be fatal. In 2014, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses on prescription opioids such as oxycodone. 6

Opioids such as oxycodone suppress breathing to the point that it can stop. The risks of dying from an overdose are increased when oxycodone is combined with other drugs, such as alcohol.3


Recovering From an Overdose

Man feeling nauseous
If a person gets timely treatment, he or she is likely to recover from an oxycodone overdose with few long-term effects. One major complication can be brain damage from prolonged lack of oxygen. But most cases of oxycodone overdose resolve without the person suffering from other physical complications.4

However, the very fact that someone overdosed on oxycodone is often a sign that he or she has a problem with substance misuse or abuse. Once the immediate medical needs of an overdose are addressed, the person should consider treatment to address the underlying addiction.

The need for detox is also a possibility since many people who abruptly quit opioids experience withdrawal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, bone pain, chills) when they stop using.

Below are some common types of drug recovery programs:

  • Detox centers can provide a level of support and medical oversight that people need to safely and comfortably withdraw from oxycodone. Detox, however, lasts only a few days at most, and the focus is on the physical symptoms. Addiction to oxycodone needs to be addressed further or the pattern of drug abuse will likely start again.
  • Inpatient treatment often includes supervised detox, therapy, aftercare planning, and access to medical care when needed. Inpatient is often a good choice for people who have a longstanding addiction, are abusing other drugs or alcohol, have comorbid mental or behavioral health issues, or have underlying medical conditions.
  • An outpatient recovery program may be the primary course of substance abuse treatment, or it may be the next step for people who complete an inpatient rehab program. In both cases, this form of treatment allows the recovering oxycodone user to live at home while continuing with his or her rehabilitation.

What to Expect in Addiction Treatment

Treatment can range from a few days to several weeks. Whether inpatient or outpatient, an oxycodone rehabilitation program will usually involve learning coping skills to deal with life stressors, identifying triggers for the use of drugs, and developing tools either to avoid these triggers or to cope with them. Therapy may also help participants work through trauma or other unresolved issues that are contributing to drug abuse.

Medical professionals may also prescribe opioid replacement medications such as methadone or buprenorphine to help users safely detox and remain clean. A doctor or other medical professional will usually taper the person off these medications. Naltrexone is another FDA-approved drug useful for minimizing the chance of relapse and curbing the cravings commonly encountered during recovery from opioid dependence.

It can be helpful to follow up treatment with ongoing participation in a 12-step group that provides the type of support that a recovering person needs. Some people may also benefit from seeing a therapist, and others who are not ready to return to their home environment can stay in a sober living home. Also known as halfway houses, these programs give users a drug-free residence while they look for a job or another place to live.


Find a Recovery Center

If you or your loved one is abusing oxycodone, please call our helpline at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to receive information about available recovery centers that fit your specific needs.

Sources

[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). How do opioids affect the brain and the body?

[2]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Oxycodone hydrochloride.

[3]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Alcohol Involvement in Opioid Pain Reliever and Benzodiazepine Drug Abuse – Related Emergency Department Visits and Drug-Related Deaths – United States, 2010.

[4]. U.S. National Library of Medicine (2015). Hydrocodone/oxycodone overdose.

[5]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Opioids drive continued increase in drug overdose deaths.

[6]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Prescription Opioid Overdose Data.

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You are never too old to improve your health and quality of life!

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