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Snorting Oxycodone: Side Effects and Dangers

Snorting Oxycodone: Side Effects and Dangers

Snorting OxyContin: Know the Risks

Altering the dosage release form of OxyContin®, whether by misuse or abuse, causes immediate, uncontrolled release of the opioid—resulting in the risk of a potentially fatal overdose.1 Therefore, snorting, chewing, crushing, or injecting the dispersed ingredients may lead to various medical complications.

Medical complications may include the following:1

  • Severe sudden drop in blood pressure, hypotension
  • Respiratory depression, slow or irregular breathing
  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing
  • Cardiac arrest and death
  • Addiction

What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription opioid pain reliever often sold under the brand names OxyContin, Percodan, and Percocet.2,3 The formulation of OxyContin® is as a long-acting, delayed-release prescription opioid analgesic used in the treatment of moderately severe to severe pain.4

The opium poppy is the precursor for the synthesis of OxyContin®.5 It is reserved for individuals  who have chronic conditions contributing to high levels of pain.  These include situations requiring:3,5

  • Around-the-clock, long-term opioid therapy.
  • Conditions of cancer and degenerative arthritis.
  • Opioid-tolerant patients.
  • Where the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Quality of life issues.

There is an extremely high risk of abuse, misuse, and addiction with OxyContin® Therefore, it is used for individuals who have been failed by regular chronic pain treatment options.

When the drug is abused, it may quickly cause chemical dependence and addiction. Similar to other opioids, oxycodone may cause life-threatening respiratory depression and fatal overdoses.

Because of the dangers of abuse and overdose, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies oxycodone and the drugs that contain as Schedule II controlled substances.6

The Dangers of Snorting (Insufflating) Oxycodone

The ingredient oxycodone is found in a number of commonly prescribed pain relievers, including Percocet®, Percodan®, Roxicet® and OxyContin®.6 People who abuse oxycodone may grind up the tablets into a fine powder, which is then  injected or snorted. Snorting, or insufflating, accelerates the drug’s absorption into the bloodstream. It effects your central nervous system, producing a high that is comparable to the intensity of heroin.7

Oxycodone is often snorted for its intense high, generating an immediate surge of euphoria Snorting allows rapid absorption through the mucosal membranes in the nose. This augments the effects of the drug and exacerbates the danger of overdose and dependence.8

If you drink alcohol or take other central nervous system depressants when you snort oxycodone, the chances of a deadly overdose increase exponentially.8

Helping Someone Who’s Addicted to Oxycodone

Since oxycodone’s inception in 1996, the incidence of abuse and the number of overdoses continually rises.6

If someone you love is snorting oxycodone, feeling helpless, frustrated and scared is normal. People who are addicted to opioids can have a high level of denial and may refuse to admit they have a problem. They might insist that they only use the drug recreationally or that they are in control of their drug use. However, over time, repeated abuse of oxycodone may lead to physical dependence or addiction. Ask yourself the following questions if you or someone close to you is in danger of oxycodone dependence:

  • Do you need larger doses of the drug to get the same pleasurable high?
  • Do you experience nausea, headaches, chills, sweats, tremors, or agitation when you cannot get access to the drug or you try to quit?
  • Do you engage in unethical or illegal activities, like stealing money or forging prescriptions, in order to get the drug?
  • Do you feel angry or defensive when people in your life tell you that you have a problem with oxycodone?

Oxycodone abuse is a serious problem that jeopardizes your health, your relationships, your finances, and your future. The sooner you seek treatment, the greater your chances in making a full recovery.


  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). PubChem: Oxycodone.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Commonly abused drugs chart.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). MedlinePlus: Oxycodone.
  4. Food and Drug Administration. (2007). Oxycontin.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Prescription Opioids.
  6. The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR). (2013). Oxycodone.
  7. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (2018). OxyContin.
  8. Lofwall, M.R., Moody, D.E., Fang, W.B., Nuzzo, P.A., Walsh, S.L. (2014). Pharmacokinetics of intranasal Crushed OxyContin and Intravenous Oxycodone in Nondependent Prescription Opioid Abusers. J Clin Pharmacol, 52(4), 600-606.

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