The Dangers of Snorting Oxycodone

Contributor: Twelve Oaks Recovery Center clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., NCC

oxycontindosagesOxycodone is a prescription opioid painkiller that is designed to provide relief for individuals who suffer from moderate to severe pain. This medication works by binding opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system, which allows the person taking the medication to feel a reduction in the perception of pain, as well as a reduction in his or her emotional response to the pain.

Different forms of Oxycodone

Oxycodone comes in a number of different prescription formulas, including ones that begin working immediately and ones that are extended-release and work over a prolonged period of time. They may come in the form of liquids, tablets, and capsules, and have varying potencies. Additionally, some formulations of Oxycodone include acetaminophen, such as the prescription medication Percocet.

Due to the fact that Oxycodone is very addictive, it is a highly regulated substance that is monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. Despite this strict regulation, however, Oxycodone continues to be a drug that is greatly abused. When people take Oxycodone, it can create a sense of euphoria and an overall state of well-being.

This achieved “high” can be extremely appealing to individuals, which leads to continued use. The longer that a person uses this opioid substance, the higher his or her tolerance level becomes, leading to the need to increase the amount and/or frequency that is being used in order to achieve that same euphoric state of mind.

Using Oxycodone to Get High

crushedoxyPeople who use Oxycodone as a means of getting high will oftentimes begin crushing up the pill, or breaking open the capsule and dispensing its contents, so that they can snort the substance.

In doing so, the effects of the drug cross the blood-brain barrier more quickly, leading to a more rapid onset of pleasurable feelings. While this rapid onset can add to the appeal for users, it can also have extremely detrimental consequences.

The immediate effects of snorting Oxycodone can include lightheadedness and dizziness, as well as elicit sudden changes in mood. Although taking Oxycodone orally and as prescribed can sometimes bring about negative side effects, such as drowsiness and vomiting, when snorting it, the effects become significantly more severe and much more dangerous.

Some such effects may include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Overdose
  • Death

Snorting Oxycodone Increases the Risk of Overdose

oxycontinoverdoseBecause snorting this substance causes an individual’s bloodstream to absorb greater amounts of the drug than it would when taken orally, it puts the user at a much higher risk of overdosing.

This is especially true when users snort crushed extended release tablets of Oxycodone because, as the nature of the drug is to provide long-lasting relief and therefore has a higher potency, people are forcing the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier all at one time instead of allowing it to work as it is designed to in providing extended relief. This sudden rush of Oxycodone entering the bloodstream can cause a person’s body to exceed its limit of tolerance and result in overdose.

However, even when snorting a small dose of Oxycodone, there are a host of possible physical side effects that one can experience.

Examples of these effects can include, but are not limited to:

  • Burning feeling inside of the nose
  • Dry mouth
  • Constriction of the pupils
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Closing of the nostrils, causing one to be unable to breathe through his or her nose
  • Severe headache
  • Shaking / tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Drowsiness

Additional Risks of Snorting Oxycodone

Lady Snorting OxycodoneAdditionally, the process of crushing the pills in order to be able to snort the powder can lead to some residue getting into a person’s eyes or throat, both of which can induce extremely uncomfortable burning sensations.

So, realizing all the risks and negative repercussions of snorting Oxycodone, why would anyone want to do it?

Oxycodone is Similar to Other Addictive Substances

Oxycodone is just like any other illicit substance. The knowledge that it can get a person high causes some individuals to become curious, creating a desire to discover what that high feels like. Some people can try it once and are done with it. Others, however, can try it and become seemingly instantly addicted to the pleasurable feelings it brings about.

Addiction is a disease and, once it has developed, it can be extremely difficult to stop without proper interventions. If you have reason to believe that a family member or loved one has begun abusing Oxycodone in any way, including snorting it, then it is imperative that he or she receives immediate help.

Examples of various symptoms that may indicate that a person has begun abusing Oxycodone and needs to seek help can include things such as:

  • Borrowing or stealing money – When a person does not receive a legitimate prescription for Oxycodone and instead has to buy it from someone else, it can be very expensive, similar to purchasing any other drug.
  • Angry outbursts
  • Variable concentration
  • Intermittent periods of dozing
  • Memory impairment
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Excessive irritability

If you or someone you know has developed a problem with abusing Oxycodone, it is crucial that treatment is received before the consequences of use become fatal. There are numerous options for receiving treatment, including inpatient treatment and detoxification, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs, and traditional outpatient counseling. Addiction is a scary thing, but it can be overcome.


About the Author:

“The Dangers of Snorting Oxycodone” was written by Twelve Oaks Recovery Center clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., NCC. Erica has several years of experience working in the treatment field as a clinical therapist and has her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology.

About the Program:

Located on 5 beautiful acres in Navarre, Florida, Twelve Oaks Recovery Center is a 96-bed recovery center that provides detox, inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment to individuals who are dealing with substance abuse, addiction, and certain co-occurring conditions. The Twelve Oaks treatment philosophy is based upon the understanding that alcoholism, drug addiction and other forms of chemical dependency are treatable diseases with complex physical, behavioral, psychological, social, and spiritual components. Treatment at Twelve Oaks is provided by multidisciplinary teams of dedicated professionals, including master’s level mental health counselors, social workers, nurses, and recreational therapists.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on September 12, 2014
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 13, 2021
Published on