Snorting Oxycodone: Is It Dangerous? (The Science)

Medically Reviewed

You don’t have to go far to hear about the opioid crisis. You may turn on your television, and the top story is how big pharma is being sued for their culpability in the opioid crisis. Maybe you opened your internet browser, and the home screen has a story that 400,000 people have died as a result of the crisis.

Either way, opioids have dominated the headlines for some time now, and prescription drugs like oxycodone have been the main culprit in fueling this never-ending fire. You may wonder for yourself, however, and ask, “How dangerous are opiates?”

Prescription drugs get a bad reputation because they can cause addiction. The reality is that many people can use prescription opioids for years to treat their chronic pain with no problems. The issue lies in those who use the drugs to get high, and it can cause a habit to spiral completely out of control.

The opioid crisis occurred as a result of three distinct waves. The first wave began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical representatives marketed their product to physicians with claims of it not being addictive. Doctors began prescribing the substances freely, and this led to a surge in overdose deaths from prescription drugs.

The next wave came in 2010 when doctors were restricted in how they could prescribe. Once new rules were implemented, those hooked on drugs like oxycodone were forced to get their drugs from the street. An influx of heroin use began, which led to 2013 where fentanyl began emerging on the street.

Those who can obtain oxycodone may use the drug in a manner that generally is not safe. Users describe snorting oxycodone as a means to achieve their desired level of intoxication quicker and with a smaller amount of the drug. Not only does this save them money, but they can get much higher through this method.

Unfortunately, there is a reason why drugs are meant to be ingested instead of snorted. Snorting oxycodone can be dangerous, which can cause adverse effects that leave users fighting for their lives. Below, we will take a closer look at how snorting oxycodone can affect our body and why we should avoid it.

What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone hydrochloride is the active ingredient in Percocet, OxyContin, and several other brand name drugs. It falls into a class of substances known as opioid analgesics. Oxycodone was designed to treat moderate-to-severe pain and is commonly used to treat individuals struggling with chronic pain. Oxycodone is known on the streets as hillbilly heroin because of its resemblance to heroin. It causes similar side effects to heroin as well.

Some of oxycodone’s side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal
  • Addiction

The drug was synthesized in 1916 in Germany as an alternative to heroin or morphine and came to the United States in 1939. It was not put into mass production until 1996 when Purdue Pharma began making OxyContin. It was initially used as an aid to treat chronic pain, but its addictive qualities soon became evident.

Why Do People Snort Oxycodone?

Unfortunately, snorting the drug has become a popular means of self-administration of the medication. When it is snorted, the rapid effect occurs because of the ability to go past the blood-brain barrier at a faster rate. When the drug is crushed and snorted, the nasal membrane absorbs the pill, which skips going through the GI tract. The drug goes directly to the bloodstream, causing an intense high with a rapid onset.

Dangers Of Snorting Oxycodone

Using oxycodone can be dangerous even when used as prescribed. The drug can cause dependence when it is not abused, but snorting the substance increases these dangers exponentially.

Snorting it can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure, seizures, slowed breathing, cardiac arrest, or even death. Those who snort the substance and use other depressants in conjunction, such as benzodiazepines risk fatally overdosing. Other side effects include:


  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Inability to breathe through the nose
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Chest tightening
  • Irritability and mood problems
  • Damage to the septum
  • Erosion of your nasal passage(s)
  • Nasal infections

Damage to the nasal passage can occur when snorting oxycodone, but you can also increase your odds of building a dependence, which means the body will go into withdrawal upon abrupt cessation of the drug.

In addition to the immediate dangers, snorting oxycodone can be a clear cut path to using heroin. Users will also be more inclined to purchase black market pills that can be laced with fentanyl. Statistics show that 80 percent of those who abused prescription opioids moved onto using heroin.

If you or someone you know is snorting oxycodone, it can indicate a potentially deadly road toward heroin addiction. Snorting the drug also increases the chances of a deadly drug overdose since the drug goes straight into the bloodstream. Fortunately, Ocean Breeze Recovery can help you with your drug addiction. Is snorting oxycodone worth your life?

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (844) 318-7500