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Oxycodone Side Effects: Common & Rare Risks to Look For

Elena Hill, MD, MPH profile image
Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated Aug 14, 2023 • 6 cited sources

Oxycodone side effects include constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, excessive sweating and itchiness, among others.

Oxycodone is an opioid painkiller. In 2020 alone, medical professionals wrote 12 million prescriptions for this opioid painkiller.[1]

While oxycodone is common, it’s not entirely safe. Even people who use the drug for short periods as directed by a doctor may face side effects. And those who misuse the drug could experience life-threatening problems. 

What Are Common Side Effects of Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid medication. It comes in pill form. It is prescribed for severe, acute pain. Like all opioid medications, it has a number of common side effects, including: [2]

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Headache
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

What Are Rare but Serious Side Effects?

Uncommon but serious side effects include the following:[3]

  • Fever
  • Changes in mental status 
  • Sedation/drowsiness 
  • Respiratory suppression 
  • Overdose and death

Which Medications Interact With Oxycodone?

Like all opioids, oxycodone is very powerful, and it uses many of the same systems as other drugs. Sometimes, combining medications results in very serious health problems. 

These are substances that can interact with oxycodone:[2]

  • Depressants: Sedatives, tranquilizers, other opioids and alcohol increase oxycodone’s sedation, causing coma or death.
  • CYP450 3A4 medications: The CYP450 3A4 enzyme is involved in breaking down oxycodone. Common drugs like clarithromycin and ketoconazole are in this class. 
  • Opioid agonists: Medications like buprenorphine reduce oxycodone’s impact, and in some cases, they can trigger withdrawal. 
  • Muscle relaxants: Mixing oxycodone with muscle relaxants can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression. 
  • Diuretics: Opioids can block the function of these medications, leading to urine retention. Men with enlarged prostates may have a higher risk of complications from this interaction. 
  • Anticholinergics: Medications like dicyclomine can interact with oxycodone and cause urinary retention and severe constipation. 

If you are going to use oxycodone for short or even more prolonged period of time, ask your doctor about potential side effects or interactions with other medications you are taking. 

Oxycodone Risks & Warnings

Oxycodone is commonly misused. About 1 million Americans 12 and older have misused oxycodone at least once during their lifetime.[3] Anyone who misuses the drug should fully understand the risks involved. 

Oxycodone is a central nervous system suppressant. Taking too much at once can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression. Inexperienced users are at high risk for this problem.[3] But people who misuse oxycodone regularly can also be at risk of overdose. 

After a period of long-term use, brain cells become accustomed to oxycodone. People must take higher doses to get the reactions they used to achieve with lower doses. In time, they can take doses so large that they overdose. They can also become physically dependent on opioids, leading to an opioid use disorder. 

In addition, taking illicit/non-prescription oxycodone can result in contamination with other drugs; many street drugs are laced with the stronger opioid fentanyl. Of those tainted pills 6 in 10 contain a lethal fentanyl dose.[5] 

Lastly, oxycodone use can lead to the development of an opioid use disorder and progression to use of more dangerous drugs. In one study, four out of five heroin users state that they started by first misusing painkillers like oxycodone.[6] 

Get Help for Your Oxycodone Misuse

Some people who misuse oxycodone want to quit, but their crippling withdrawal symptoms keep them hooked. 

In a Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) program, doctors use drugs like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) to address opioid withdrawal and manage opioid use disorder. 

Patients can stay on medications like Suboxone either short term or indefinitely, depending on your needs.. As long as it continues to support your recovery, it should be used.

Telemedicine MAT programs like Bicycle Health bring the therapy to your home in a private, convenient setting. Contact us to find out if this is right for you.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where ... Read More

  1. Oxycodone Drug Use Statistics, United States, 2013 to 2020. ClinCalc. Accessed April 2023.
  2. OxyContin Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. August 2015. Accessed April 2023.
  3. OxyContin Fast Facts. National Drug Intelligence Center. August 2003. Accessed April 2023.
  4. Quick Facts: Oxycodone Trafficking Offenses. United States Sentencing Commission. 2021. Accessed April 2023.
  5. One Pill Can Kill. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed April 2023.
  6. Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures. American Society of Addiction Medicine. Accessed April 2023.
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