Get Help & Answers Now

How can we help?

I'm ready to sign up! I have a few questions I want to refer someone Quiz: is Suboxone for me?

What Are the Side Effects of Oxycodone?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Mar 22, 2024 • 9 cited sources

Oxycodone can have a number of side effects, many of which aren’t serious unless especially severe. However, you should talk to a doctor right away if using the medication and you experience symptoms associated with hypotension, overdose, or allergic reaction.[1] 

Oxycodone is a powerful prescription painkiller and should only be used as prescribed. It can be addictive and has significant misuse potential, although it also has legitimate medical uses.[2]

Common Oxycodone Side Effects

Oxycodone has several side effects associated with its use, which can occur even if taken only as prescribed. The most common side effects include the following:[1]

Gastrointestinal Effects

Fairly common symptoms of opioid use, including prescribed opioid use, are nausea, vomiting and constipation. This can occur because opioids affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such that the amount of fluid normally present in the GI tract is reduced. This impedes the ability of the bowels to empty themselves.[3] 

If these issues are significant, talk with a doctor rather than trying to solve the problems yourself with OTC medications like laxatives. Some treatment options will be more helpful than others, and it isn’t always intuitive what medications might help you.

Central Nervous System Effects

Oxycodone can affect the central nervous system (CNS), potentially making an individual dizzy or drowsy. They may also experience a headache. This occurs because opioids interfere with the ability of the CNS to send signals to key parts of the brain and body.[4] 

These symptoms may occur even if the drug is only used as prescribed. In some cases, they may affect a person’s ability to safely drive and perform other tasks. You should typically wait a little to see how oxycodone affects you before attempting to drive, operate heavy machinery or otherwise perform tasks that require precision or alertness. 

Respiratory Effects

Opioids are depressants, with one of the most notable effects of depressants being that they can weaken breathing. In severe cases, this can lead to especially shallow breathing and shortness of breath, which can be life-threatening in the case of an overdose.[5] If these serious respiratory system effects occur, contact a medical professional immediately.

Allergic Reactions

In some users, oxycodone use can cause an allergic reaction.[6] The severity of allergic reactions can vary significantly. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include itchiness, a rash and swelling. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms, treat the situation as a medical emergency and contact a healthcare provider:[1]

  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin, tongue or lips turning blue, gray or pale (with this discoloration easier to see on the palms for individuals with darker skin)
  • Sudden confusion, disorientation or drowsiness
  • Fainting, often with difficulty being woken up
  • A rash that’s swollen, raised, itchy, blistered or peeling

Other Common Side Effects

Some other common side effects associated with oxycodone use include sweating, dry mouth and changes to mood.[1] To help make up for fluids lost while sweating and to stay hydrated, drink more water while on oxycodone to compensate. 

Mood changes can be trickier to manage. If severe, talk to a doctor about potential solutions.

Less Common but Serious Side Effects of Oxycodone

Some less common but potentially very serious effects of oxycodone include the following:[1]

Respiratory Depression

Oxycodone causes respiratory depression. At prescribed doses, this shouldn’t usually be dangerous as long as the medical professionals treating you are aware you’re on the drug and of any health conditions you might have that affect respiration. 

However, at high doses, this depression can become so severe that the body physically cannot draw in enough air to support its needs. This can lead to severe medical issues, including brain damage and death if the overdose is not swiftly reversed.[1]

Cardiovascular Effects

Opioids are known to have cardiovascular effects, leading to bradycardia and vasodilation.[7] Their use can lead to edema, hypotension, orthostatic hypotension and syncope in rare cases. 

While the pool of data is admittedly limited, studies have suggested that at the very least, people already at risk of heart problems need to be especially careful when using drugs like oxycodone.[7]

Gastrointestinal Complications

While not common, gastrointestinal issues caused by opioid use can sometimes become so severe that medical intervention is necessary.[3] For example, stool may become overly dried and hardened, potentially leading the bowels to become obstructed. 

It can also become harder for the body to expel waste. Some people experience particularly severe constipation that may require the use of a prescription of laxatives or some change to be made to a person’s oxycodone prescription.[8]

Neurological Effects

Oxycodone use can lead to certain neurological effects, including confusion and seizures. These symptoms should be taken very seriously and aren’t typical of oxycodone use. If a person experiences these symptoms, it should be treated as a medical emergency.

Managing & Reporting Oxycodone Side Effects

The following is some advice for managing your side effects while on oxycodone and information on why you need to report adverse reactions to a medical professional:

Managing Side Effects

Experiencing side effects while on oxycodone can be frustrating, especially if the medication is working well at reducing the pain you’re experiencing. If your symptoms aren’t severe, lifestyle changes can sometimes help to reduce the negative impact your medication might be having. 

For example, adjusting to a healthier diet and increasing your water intake can reduce gastrointestinal effects. Changing the activities you engage in can help to make issues like dizziness and drowsiness less dangerous and noticeable. Some activities, like exercise, can help increase energy levels and alertness.

Reporting Adverse Reactions

As a rule, it is good practice to report any side effects or reactions you experience while taking a prescribed medication to the professional who prescribed it, especially if those symptoms may be impacting your quality of life. The professional can better identify what is normal and what may signal something dangerous. They also have the ability to adjust your treatment, so you can better manage side effects that are bothersome. 


Oxycodone is a prescription opioid and needs to be used with care. It has significant misuse and addiction potential, and it can cause a number of side effects even if only used legitimately. 

If you experience unwanted side effects while on the medication, talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce them. 

Stay alert for signs your medication may be causing more serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. It is often a good idea to have naloxone (brand name Narcan) in a house that has significant quantities of opioids. Naloxone can counteract the effects of opioids like oxycodone and reverse a fatal overdose, making it a life-saving medication.[9]

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Sadiq NM, Dice TJ, Mead T. Oxycodone. StatPearls. Published August 22, 2022. Accessed February 14, 2024.
  2. Kosten T, George T. The neurobiology of opioid dependence: Implications for treatment. Science & Practice Perspectives. 2002;1(1):13-20. 
  3. Khansari M, Sohrabi M, Zamani F. The useage of opioids and their adverse effects in gastrointestinal practice: A review. Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases. 2013;5(1):5-16. 
  4. Lee C, Wanson A, Frangou S, Chong D, Halpape K. Opioid toxicity due to CNS depressant polypharmacy: A case report. The Mental Health Clinician. 2021;11(2):70-74. 
  5. Gupta K, Prasad A, Nagappa M, Wong J, Abrahamyan L, Chung F. Risk factors for opioid-induced respiratory depression and failure to rescue. Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology. 2017;31(1):1. 
  6. Li PH, Ue KL, Wagner A, Rutkowski R, Rutkowski K. Opioid hypersensitivity: Predictors of allergy and role of drug provocation testing. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2017;5(6):1601-1606. 
  7. Chen A, Ashburn MA. Cardiac effects of opioid therapy. Pain Medicine. 2015;16(suppl 1):S27-S31. 
  8. Lang-Illievich K, Bornemann-Cimenti H. Opioid-induced constipation: a narrative review of therapeutic options in clinical management. The Korean Journal of Pain. 2019;32(2):69-78. 
  9. Hanson BL, Porter RR, Zöld AL, Terhorst-Miller H. Preventing opioid overdose with peer-administered naloxone: findings from a rural state. Harm Reduction Journal. 2020;17(1).

Download Our Free Program Guide

Learn about our program, its effectiveness and what to expect

Safe, effective Suboxone treatment from home. Learn More

Imagine what’s possible on the other side of opioid use disorder.

Our science-backed approach boasts 95% of patients reporting no withdrawal symptoms at 7 days. We can help you achieve easier days and a happier future.