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Snorting Oxycodone

Snorting oxycodone can lead to serious long-term health problems and potentially deadly consequences if left untreated. Because the risk of addiction is so high for oxycodone, it is one of the most abused opioids on the market. Learning the signs and effects of oxycodone snorting can be the first step to getting help for yourself or a loved one.

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Oxycodone Overview

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic (pain reliever) that is only available by prescription. The drug is available as a generic under the name OxyContin and through combination products with acetaminophen, like Oxycet® or Percocet®.

Oxycodone is one of the most commonly abused prescription painkillers, along with other opioids such as hydrocodone, methadone, and codeine. Oxycodone is different from some other prescription opioids in that it can stay in the body for up to 12 hours.

Oxycodone is typically abused for its long-lasting, intense high, and euphoric effects. While all methods of drug abuse with oxycodone can have damaging or life-threatening side effects, snorting the drug comes with a unique set of risks.

Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

The potential for abuse and oxycodone addiction is very high. As a Schedule II opioid, oxycodone has medicinal use but also has a high risk for abuse. Not all individuals prescribed oxycodone for moderate or severe pain relief will develop an opioid addiction, but many people will.

Why Would Someone Snort Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is often crushed into a fine powder and snorted through the nasal passages. The purpose of this method is to intensify the opiate’s effects, whether the tablet is immediate release or extended-release.

In many cases, addicts will snort extended-release oxycodone through a practice called dose dumping. Dose dumping works by “dumping” the entire dosage of the crushed oxycodone tablet into the body all at once.

Most extended-release tablets contain bigger doses designed to slowly take effect over many hours. By activating the complete dose all at once, the risk of opioid overdose increases.

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Effects (and Dangers) of Snorting Oxycodone

Oxycodone use through snorting can lead to many health problems and possibly even death in some cases. Because oxycodone is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it can lower your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

In addition to these risks, snorting oxycodone also has dire consequences on sinus health. The nose’s mucus membranes and tissues can’t withstand the damaging effects of powdered oxycodone. Over time, serious damage can occur from prolonged oxycodone snorting.

Common short-term effects of snorting oxycodone include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed breathing (respiratory depression)
  • Constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heightened risk of overdose
  • Coma
  • Death

Common long-term effects of snorting oxycodone include:

  • Worsened mental health conditions
  • Increased risk of developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis (immune system disorder in the lungs) and lung infections
  • Chronic congestion and sinus infections
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Damage or death of tissue in the nasal cavity
  • Sores in the nasal cavity and mouth
  • Tearing of the nasal septum
  • Increased risk of developing Hepatitis C

Signs of Snorting Oxycodone

Snorting oxycodone can heighten the risk of overdose. Therefore, it’s important to know what signs to look out for if you suspect a loved one is snorting oxycodone.

While some of these signs are specific to oxycodone snorting, others can apply to general oxycodone abuse and substance abuse.

Common signs of snorting oxycodone include:

  • Use of straws, credit cards, or mirrors
  • Runny nose or congestion without a clear cause
  • White powder around the nose and mouth
  • Hoarse voice and slurred speech
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Poor hygiene or unkempt appearance
  • Fixating on the next dose of oxycodone
  • Continuing to snort oxycodone despite the negative consequences
  • Hiding evidence of or lying about snorting oxycodone

Treatment for Snorting Oxycodone Abuse and Addiction

The treatment options for oxycodone addiction are essentially the same as the treatment for other opioid use disorders due to the similarities in effects and withdrawal symptoms.

The best addiction treatment for you will depend on many factors, such as age, health status, and substance use history.

Medical Detox and Treatment Programs

Not all opioid abusers will require medical detoxification. For individuals experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, medical detox provides medical supervision and treatments to ease withdrawal symptoms and curb intense cravings.

Some patients may require an inpatient rehab that includes a residential stay, but many people won’t require round-the-clock treatment. Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are more common, with patients only attending treatment for a certain amount of hours per week.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment plans typically include one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and skill-building activities to help drug users get back on their feet after treatment.


Behavioral therapy is a vital part of addiction recovery, often in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

Although therapy is commonly used in treatment centers, many addicts can benefit from ongoing therapy as treatment or a supplement after exiting treatment.

The goal of therapy is to help the addict identify the actions or thoughts that lead to prescription drug abuse in the first place. Therapists can help patients develop strategies to combat temptations and better handle stressors that could trigger a relapse.

In addition, many addicts have co-occurring behavioral health disorders they weren’t aware of before treatment. By addressing overall mental health concerns, many addicts have better recovery outcomes and are less likely to relapse.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatments are FDA-approved drugs that are proven highly effective in the treatment of opioid use disorder. Some MATs work by preventing the addict from feeling the effects of opioids, while others help curb cravings and other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

MATs have proven to help safely improve treatment outcomes by lowering the risk of relapse and overdose, with most MAT plans lasting from one to two years.

Common medication-assisted treatments for opioid drug use include:

Self-Help Groups and Support Groups

Peer support is a huge part of opioid addiction recovery. The difference between self-help and support groups is determined by who leads the group. For self-help groups, they are usually led by fellow peers or group members.

On the other hand, support groups are often run by a mental health professional, health care provider, or community leader. These options are often considered a supplement to treatment, although some oxycodone addicts may find great success with these groups on their own.

Common support groups and self-help groups for oxycodone abuse treatment include:

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Find Treatment for Oxycodone Snorting

Getting help for oxycodone snorting can feel like an overwhelming, even embarrassing, task.

Thankfully, there are many treatment options available for addicts who are ready to enter sobriety. Because the risk of overdose is higher for those who snort oxycodone, seeking treatment could save a life.

Talk to a doctor or addiction specialist about what treatment options may best suit your situation. If you don’t have a doctor or don’t know where to start, you still have options.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a 24-hour, confidential hotline and treatment locator to help you find local treatment centers.

Visit SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-800-662-4357 (HELP) to find a treatment program in your area.

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FAQs About Snorting Oxycodone

Why do people snort oxycodone?

People snort oxycodone in order to intensify their high. However, the nose and nasal cavity were not designed to absorb so much powder, leading to irritation, damage, and even death of nasal tissues over time.

Why is it dangerous to snort drugs like oxycodone?

Snorting oxycodone is dangerous due to a common method of drug abuse called “dose dumping.” Dose dumping works by introducing the entire dose of an extended-release tablet all at once instead of spread over many hours.

Extended-release oxycodone is meant to last up to 12 hours and, therefore, contains a bigger dose. By dose-dumping oxycodone through snorting, addicts will experience a more intense and dangerous high. The risk of overdose is much higher for those who snort oxycodone.

In addition, some oxycodone users may obtain their drugs from an illicit source, who may lace the tablet or powder with other drugs like fentanyl. Fentanyl is an incredibly synthetic opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can easily lead to a fatal overdose.

What are the risks of snorting oxycodone?

Snorting oxycodone can do serious and permanent damage to the nasal cavity, as well as increase the risk of lung infections.

Other risks of snorting oxycodone include:

  • Slowed breathing (respiratory depression)
  • Damage or death of tissue in the nasal cavity
  • Tearing in nasal tissues, nasal septum, and the soft palate (roof of the mouth)
  • Developing hypersensitivity pneumonitis (immune system disorder of the lungs)
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Liver damage when using combination products containing acetaminophen
  • Death by accidental overdose

Will snorting oxycodone cause an overdose?

Snorting oxycodone can cause an overdose, especially when snorting an extended-release tablet that contains a high dose. In addition, illegally obtained oxycodone could contain other dangerous drugs without the addict’s knowledge and lead to an overdose.

What should I do for an oxycodone overdose?

If you think someone around you is having an oxycodone overdose, call 911 immediately, as an overdose is a medical emergency. While waiting for help, stay near the victim and make sure they’re breathing.

Let the EMTs know any information you might have about the individual, including how much they took and any pre-existing health concerns.

Common signs of an oxycodone overdose include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Extreme narrowing or widening of the pupils
  • Weak muscles
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Unable to respond or wake up
Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Lofwall, M. R., Moody, D. E., Fang, W. B., Nuzzo, P. A., & Walsh, S. L. (2012, April). Pharmacokinetics of Intranasal Crushed Oxycontin and Intravenous Oxycodone in Nondependent Prescription Opioid Abusers. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
  2. Oxycodone. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2022, October).
  3. Radke, J. B., Owen, K. P., Sutter, M. E., Ford, J. B., & Albertson, T. E. (2013, May 1). The Effects of Opioids on the Lung. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology.
  4. Sadiq, N. M. (2022, August 22). Oxycodone. StatPearls.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, April 13). How Do Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Work? National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023, May 25). Prescription Opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2023, May 15). Oxycodone. MedlinePlus.

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