What Is A Lethal Dose Of Oxycodone (OxyContin)?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023

Oxycodone (OxyContin) is a prescription opioid that can be lethal in high doses. Knowing the signs of overdose and the lethal dose of oxycodone can help prevent fatal outcomes.

What Is The Lethal Dose Of Oxycodone?

Oxycodone, the active ingredient found in narcotics like OxyContin and Percocet, is a powerful prescription opioid. It can be fatal if taken in very high doses or mixed with other drugs, including alcohol.

Taking oxycodone in higher doses than prescribed can lead to fatal respiratory depression. For people who are not opioid tolerant, this can occur after taking more than a single 40 mg dose, or more than 80 mg a day.

Learn more about the lethal dose of commonly abused drugs.

How A Lethal Dose Of Oxycodone Is Determined

Taking more than a single dose of 40 mg, or a total daily dose of 80 mg of oxycodone, may cause fatal respiratory depression in people without opioid tolerance.

Oxycodone is prescribed in the following dosages:

  • 5 mg
  • 7.5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 15 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg
  • 40 mg
  • 60 mg

80 mg may be prescribed for opioid-tolerant patients only.

Respiratory depression is a breathing condition characterized by slow, shallow, or difficult breathing. This can develop after taking too much oxycodone.

Taking a lethal dose of oxycodone may cause very slow or stopped breathing. If someone has stopped breathing or is breathing very slowly after taking oxycodone, call 911 right away.

Oxycodone Overdose Deaths: How Often Does It Happen?

Oxycodone is one of the most common prescription opioids involved in fatal opioid overdoses. It is also one of the most commonly prescribed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 24% of fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 involved prescription opioids like oxycodone.

Between 2019 and 2020, almost half of the states in the Union saw an increase of opioid overdose deaths.

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Risk Factors For Oxycodone Overdose

Oxycodone overdose occurs when someone has taken an excessive dose of oxycodone or has mixed it with other drugs or alcohol. This can be fatal or non-fatal.

Factors that can increase the risk of a fatal oxycodone overdose include:

  • using immediate-release oxycodone
  • crushing and snorting oxycodone tablets
  • being very young (i.e. a child) or very old
  • taking very high doses of oxycodone
  • taking oxycodone with other drugs (e.g. benzodiazepines, alcohol)

Taking OxyContin in any way other than prescribed carries a risk of overdose. With the quick administration of naloxone (Narcan), an OxyContin overdose can be reversed.

Recognizing An Oxycodone Overdose

Knowing the signs and symptoms of an oxycodone overdose can help prevent fatal outcomes. If someone has taken a potentially lethal dose of oxycodone, look for the following signs.

Signs and symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include:

  • slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
  • difficulty breathing
  • awake but unable to talk
  • bluish-purple or ashen skin
  • gurgling or choking sounds
  • clammy skin
  • weak or erratic pulse
  • low body temperature
  • vomiting
  • loss of consciousness

Oxycodone overdose can be a sign of an opioid addiction. If someone has overdosed on OxyContin, treatment for opioid abuse and addiction may be recommended.

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If you or a loved one is facing addiction, you can find opioid addiction treatment near you. Call us to learn more about starting your journey toward sobriety.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 1, 2023
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