Oxycodone is commonly prescribed in tablet form, and oral delivery is the most common means of abuse. However, it can also be crushed into a powder, and the resulting product can be inhaled into the nasal passage, put into a pipe or vaporizer, and smoked.
Both of these other administration methods result in faster transit of the substance to the brain, and the drug will act rapidly on the body, which can ultimately result in severe side effects. When oxycodone is smoked, the drug’s rapid absorption induces a massive release of dopamine, which induces the euphoric “high” and reinforces its addiction potential.
Tolerance and Dependence
Dependence and tolerance can rapidly develop from frequent oxycodone use. When a person becomes oxycodone-dependent, very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will manifest if he or she attempts to cut back or quit “cold turkey.”
The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sure-fire sign that the person’s body cannot function normally without the drug’s presence. These symptoms are emotional and physical and can persist several days after the last dose has been ingested.
Along with dependence, tolerance is highly likely. As a user’s nervous system becomes less sensitive to oxycodone, they will be compelled to take ever-increasing amounts of the drug to achieve this vicious cycle that can rapidly lead to a worsening of the addiction ultimately, potentially lethal effects.
Side effects from ingested large doses of oxycodone, regardless of the administration route, may include the following:
- Respiratory depression
- Low blood pressure
- Heart failure
Effects of Smoking Oxycodone
One of the fastest methods of achieving intoxication by a drug is by smoking it. When oxycodone is ingested in this way, the person rapidly becomes “high.” Effects can include the following:
- Altered mental status
- Slowed breathing
- Lack of alertness
- Pinpoint pupils
- Digestive issues
- Impaired coordination
The feel-good effects of the drug will wane more rapidly when opioids are smoked. For this reason, individuals who smoke oxycodone are more likely to do so in a binge-like fashion. Unfortunately, this cycle can lead to overdose and death.
Overdose is the most severe potential side effect caused by excessive doses of oxycodone. When the drug is tampered with and delivered rapidly, the person may be more likely to consume too much. His or her brain may begin to shut down due to oxygen deprivation and profound respiratory depression.
The chronic smoking of any substance, including oxycodone, can lead to lung infections caused by tissue damage, emphysema, or lung cancer. Death by overdose is the most severe potential side effect caused by exorbitant doses of oxycodone.
Effects of Snorting
The onset of oxycodone intoxication is slower by way of snorting it versus smoking. Crushing the drug into a powder and ingesting it through the nose still allows the individual to avoid the drug’s time-release element and experience the effects more rapidly and intensely than if it were ingested orally as a tablet.
One of the primary side effects of snorting oxycodone is tissue damage to the nose, sinuses, and throat. This damage can lead to chronic nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell or taste, and multiple bacterial infections in the nasal cavity and upper respiratory system.
When oxycodone is insufflated, it is absorbed into the bloodstream through mucous membranes that line the nose and throat. This action allows the opioid to cross the blood-brain barrier more rapidly, meaning that its effects can manifest within as little as two minutes after intranasal ingestion.
Overcoming Oxycodone Addiction
Those who tamper with oxycodone’s administration route, such as smoking or snorting it, place themselves at a higher risk of dependence, addiction, overdose, and death. The abuse of oxycodone in any form wreaks havoc on a person’s life, and those who struggle should seek professional help as soon as possible.
Rehab programs that specialize in helping individuals overcome opioid addiction, such as those offered by Just Believe Recovery, can help manage withdrawal symptoms and promote sustainable recovery. We provide integrated treatment that includes services beneficial for long-term recovery, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.