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What Does Oxycontin High Look Like?

By Kyle Kirkland
Medically Reviewed by Yilang Tang, MD, PhD on June 28, 2021
OxyContin is a powerful opioid, and anyone who uses it is at risk for addiction. Here are the signs to look for in someone who is high on OxyContin.

OxyContin, the brand name for the drug oxycodone, is an opioid prescribed to treat severe, constant pain. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even if you are prescribed OxyContin and take it as directed by your doctor, you can develop addiction and may be at risk for overdose and death. Here is what you should look for if you think you or someone you know may be high on OxyContin.

Signs of OxyContin Intoxication

OxyContin works in the brain by changing how your body feels and responds to pain. It is typically prescribed for patients dealing with severe pain due to ailments like cancer, and it is not a drug you use “as needed” or occasionally. The drug’s strength and intended method of consistent use contributes to the risk of addiction.

“The appearance of someone who’s recently used oxycodone, the active agent in OxyContin, will resemble those of other opioids,” Ian McLaughlin, PhD, specialist in neurobiology related to addiction, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

McLaughlin says signs of an OxyContin high may include the following:

  • Feeling slow, weak, or detached
  • Sleepiness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Slurred speech
  • Itching that is not related to a known skin issue

According to American Addiction Centers, taking too much OxyContin could cause nausea and vomiting, which could lead to sudden weight loss.

An OxyContin high's symptoms can appear rapidly after you ingest the drug. 

“The average high of immediate release OxyContin will be felt within 30 minutes of ingestion, and the high will last up to between 3 to 6 hours,” Aaron Sternlicht, addiction specialist at Family Addiction Specialists, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Since the drug is designed to be used consistently, you may develop a tolerance to the medication. This could lead to the desire for increased doses of OxyContin, which could lead to addiction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid abuse is over $70 billion a year. That’s a count of all the time, money, and energy spent on dealing with the abuse of drugs like OxyContin. If you abuse OxyContin, it doesn’t just affect you; it affects everyone around you.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help. 


Editor's Note: Many advocates have moved away from the term "abuse" in an effort to destigmatize addiction and conditions related to it. However, those experiencing addiction who are interested in locating treatment may encounter the term occasionally.

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