Can You Overdose on Oxycodone?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of opioid overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like oxycodone has steadily increased in the United States.

  • In 2019, there were 36,359 opioid overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids in the US, which includes oxycodone.
  • In 2018, there were 3,244 overdose deaths involving oxycodone specifically.
  • Between 1999 and 2020, nearly 263,000 people in the US died from overdoses involving prescription opioids, including oxycodone.

Yes, it is possible to overdose on oxycodone. Oxycodone is a powerful opioid painkiller that can depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening. Overdose can occur when too much of the drug is taken or combined with other drugs that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Oxycodone Overdose Symptoms:

  • Slow, shallow breathing, or difficulty breathing.
  • Extreme drowsiness or confusion.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Blue lips and nails.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Weak pulse or low blood pressure.
  • Coma or death.

If you suspect an oxycodone overdose, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioids, may be administered in cases of overdose.

If you or someone you love has a substance use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

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Symptoms & Side Effects of an Oxycodone Overdose

An oxycodone overdose can cause a range of symptoms and side effects, including:

  • Respiratory Depression – One of the most severe side effects of an oxycodone overdose is respiratory depression, which means breathing becomes slow and shallow. This can lead to hypoxia, a condition in which the body doesn’t get enough oxygen, and can be life-threatening.
  • Extreme Drowsiness – Oxycodone can cause drowsiness, but an overdose can cause extreme sedation or even loss of consciousness.
  • Pinpoint Pupils – Oxycodone can cause pupils to constrict or become very small, called pinpoint pupils.
  • Muscle Weakness – Oxycodone overdose can cause muscle weakness or flaccidity, a sign of central nervous system depression.
  • Blue Lips & Nails – In severe cases, oxycodone overdose can cause the skin to turn blue due to a lack of oxygen.
  • Cold & Clammy Skin –- Skin may become cold and clammy due to decreased blood flow.
  • Low Blood Pressure – Oxycodone can cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to dizziness or fainting.
  • Slow Heart Rate – Oxycodone can also slow down the heart rate, which can be dangerous.
  • Coma or Death – In severe cases, an oxycodone overdose can cause a coma or even death.

Risk Factors of Abuse

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of oxycodone abuse, including:

  • Chronic Pain – Oxycodone is often prescribed to people who suffer from chronic pain, which can lead to long-term use and a higher risk of abuse.
  • Previous Substance Abuse – People with a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or other drugs, may be more likely to abuse oxycodone.
  • Mental Health Disorders – People with mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, may be more likely to abuse oxycodone to self-medicate.
  • Genetics – Some people may have a genetic predisposition to addiction, which can increase the risk of oxycodone abuse.
  • Young Age – Young people may be more likely to experiment with drugs, including oxycodone.
  • Socioeconomic Factors – People who live in poverty, lack social support, or have a history of trauma may be more likely to abuse oxycodone.
  • Availability – The availability of oxycodone can also increase the likelihood of abuse, particularly in areas with high prescription rates or where the drug is easy to obtain illegally.

Not everyone who uses oxycodone will develop an addiction, and many who use it for medical reasons will not abuse it. However, understanding the risk factors of oxycodone abuse can help identify individuals at a higher risk and provide appropriate support and resources.

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Can an Oxycodone Overdose Cause Long-Term Damage?

Yes, an oxycodone overdose can cause long-term damage to the body, particularly to the brain and other organs.

The most severe long-term effect of an oxycodone overdose is brain damage due to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia). Hypoxia can cause various cognitive and neurological problems, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and personality changes. Hypoxia can lead to permanent brain damage or even death in severe cases.

An oxycodone overdose can also cause damage to other organs, such as the liver and kidneys, particularly when taken in high doses or over time. Overdosing on oxycodone can also increase the risk of developing chronic health problems such as respiratory or cardiovascular disease later in life.

In addition to the physical effects, an oxycodone overdose can have long-term psychological effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know experiences an oxycodone overdose to minimize the risk of long-term damage. Additionally, seeking treatment for addiction and participating in a comprehensive recovery program can help reduce the risk of future overdose and associated long-term damage.

What Should You Do in the Case of an Overdose?

In case of an oxycodone overdose, it is important to take immediate action to seek medical help. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Call 911 – If you or someone you know has overdosed on oxycodone, call emergency services immediately. Do not wait to see if the overdose symptoms improve.
  • Administer Naloxone – If you have access to naloxone (also known as Narcan), you can administer it to the person experiencing the overdose. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medication that can help reverse the effects of the overdose. Follow the instructions provided with the naloxone product and seek medical help immediately.
  • Monitor Breathing & Vital Signs – While waiting for medical help, monitor the person’s breathing and vital signs (such as pulse rate and blood pressure) and provide any necessary first aid.
  • Provide Information – When medical professionals arrive, provide relevant information, including the person’s medical history, the drug taken, and the amount taken.
  • Follow Medical Instructions – Follow the medical professionals’ instructions and provide any additional information they may request.
  • Seek Addiction Treatment – After the immediate danger has passed, it is necessary to seek addiction treatment to reduce the risk of future overdose.

Naloxone is not a substitute for medical treatment, and seeking professional help for oxycodone addiction is critical to reducing the risk of future overdose.

Preventing an Accidental Overdose When Taking Oxycodone

There are several steps you can take to help prevent an accidental overdose when taking oxycodone:

  • Follow Doctor’s Instructions –  It is important to take oxycodone exactly as your doctor prescribes. Do not take more than the recommended dose or more frequently than prescribed.
  • Never Share Medication – Oxycodone is a prescription medication and should only be taken by the person for whom it was prescribed. Do not share your medication with others, even if they have similar symptoms.
  • Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol can increase the effects of oxycodone and increase the risk of overdose. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking oxycodone.
  • Be Aware of Drug Interactions – Oxycodone can interact with other medications, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements. Be sure to inform your doctor of all medications you are taking, including non-prescription medications.
  • Store Medication Safely – Keep oxycodone in a safe and secure location, out of reach of children and others who should not have access to it.
  • Use a Medication Tracker – Consider using a medication tracker, such as a pillbox or reminder app, to help ensure you take your medication as prescribed.
  • Seek Help – If you are struggling with addiction to oxycodone or other opioids, seek professional help as soon as possible. A comprehensive addiction treatment program can help you safely manage your medication and reduce the risk of overdose.

Overdose Emergency Kit

Creating an overdose emergency kit can be crucial in preparing for an opioid overdose emergency. Here are the steps to create an overdose emergency kit:

  • Obtain Naloxone (Narcan) – Naloxone is an opioid antagonist medication that can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. You can obtain naloxone from a pharmacy, doctor’s office, or community organization.
  • Gather Medical Supplies – Gloves, a CPR face mask or shield, and alcohol wipes.
  • Include Important Phone Numbers – Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, including 911, poison control, and your doctor’s phone number.
  • Include Written Instruction – Include written instructions on how to administer naloxone and how to perform CPR.
  • Keep Kit Accessible – Keep the overdose emergency kit in a secure location, out of reach of children, but easily accessible in case of an emergency.
  • Consider Additional Supplies – You may want to include a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a blanket or other items that could be useful in an emergency.
  • Ensure others know the kit is available: If you live with others, they know where the equipment is located and how to use it.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of oxycodone detox that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While prioritizing a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine the most appropriate level of care for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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