What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opiate agonist that is the active ingredient in a number of prescription pain medications, including Percocet and OxyContin. Oxycodone is used to relieve moderate to severe pain and can improve quality of life for people that suffer from chronic painful conditions such as injury, cancer, or rheumatoid arthritis. Although the drug provides effective pain relief for many people, its euphoric effects can quickly cause chemical dependence and addiction when abused. People who misuse Oxycodone may grind up the tablets into a fine powder, which can be injected or snorted. Snorting oxycodone is a common form of abuse in which people take a crushed-up pill and forcefully breathe it up into the nasal cavity. Snorting oxycodone speeds up the effects of the narcotic on the central nervous system, producing an intense high that’s comparable to that of heroin.
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Why Do People Snort Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is most commonly snorted for its powerful, concentrated high. People that begin taking Oxycodone orally will often develop a tolerance to the drug and require increasing amounts for the same effects. One way to adjust for tolerance is to switch routes of administration of the drug, i.e. go from oral to non-oral via snorting, smoking, or injecting. Snorting oxycodone allows the drug to enter the bloodstream more quickly, providing a faster and more intense high. Snorting oxycodone causes the drug to affect the brain and body much faster, typically within 15 minutes, whereas it can take over an hour for the drug to take an effect if it’s swallowed.
Snorting Oxycodone allows for more rapid ingestion as it bypasses the digestive tract and goes straight into the bloodstream through blood vessels in the nasal cavity. Upon entering the bloodstream, the drug quickly travels to the brain, causing effects to be felt shortly after snorting. Oxycodone may come in extended-release formulas, such as Oxycontin, that are intended to slowly release the drug throughout the day. By crushing and snorting the pills, the extended-release mechanism is rendered obsolete and the effects are experienced immediately. What initially began as an adjustment for tolerance can quickly turn into an addiction. The likelihood of developing an addiction to Oxycodone is significantly higher when a user administers the drug in ways other than prescribed.
You start to enjoy the drip from snorting your pills, it becomes part of the enjoyment in your high.
Snorting Oxycodone not only produces an amplified high and higher rates of addiction, but also increases the risk of negative side effects and overdose.
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The Risks Of Snorting Oxycodone
Snorting Oxycodone is significantly more dangerous than taking the drug orally, and the effects can even be fatal. Snorting any drug is thought to increase the risk of contracting Hepatitis C due to damage to the blood vessels inside the nose and sharing snorting paraphernalia like dollar bills and straws. The main consequences of snorting Oxycodone is damage to the nose, throat, and respiratory system. The effects of these health risks range from mild to life-threatening, and can include:
- Chronic sinus infections
- Frequent nose bleeds
- Severe headache
- Sleep apnea and snoring
- Loss of sense of smell
- Lung infections
- Sores in the nose and mouth
- Problems swallowing
- Abdominal pain
Because Oxycodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, the risk for overdose is significantly higher when the drug is crushed and snorted due to the profound respiratory depression that can occur. An oxycodone user’s breathing may slow down to a dangerously low rate, which can result in respiratory failure, coma, or death. Additionally, many people will also abuse alcohol and other drugs to amplify or mitigate the effects of snorting oxycodone. Mixing oxycodone with CNS depressants significantly raises the risk of overdose as it can cause increased confusion and respiratory failure.
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Symptoms of an Oxycodone overdose include:
- Constricted pupils
- Bluish tint to the lips and skin
- Stomach spasms
- Low blood pressure
- Slow pulse
- Respiratory depression or failure
- Extreme drowsiness
With proper medical treatment, it is possible to recover from an overdose. However, if left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to the brain and possibly even death.
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Getting Help For Oxycodone Addiction
Oxycodone use, regardless of the method of administration, is a very dangerous and potentially deadly habit. If you or someone that you know is snorting Oxycodone, contact a treatment provider today. People who snort drugs put themselves at a greater risk of drug dependence, overdose, and even death. The sooner you seek treatment, the greater the chances for a successful long-term recovery.
Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature. She has always had a passion for literature and the written word. Upon graduation, Jena found her purpose in educating the public on addiction and helping those that struggle with substance dependency find the best treatment options available.
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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:
Theresa Parisi received her bachelor’s degree in Addiction Science and Psychology from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota in 2010. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.
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- Cicero, Theodore J. (2017). RAPID Analysis of Routes of Administration: Oral to Non-Oral Transitions. Retrieved on 11th March 2019 from https://www.radars.org/system/events/RADARS%20System%202017%20Annual%20Meeting_Cicero.pdf.tmp
- Medline Plus. (2019). Oxycodone. Retrieved on 11th March 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html#why
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Commonly Abused Drugs Charts: Prescription Opioids. Retrieved on 11th March 2018 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs-charts