Can Oxycodone Cause Anxiety?

Oxycodone is an opioid that is typically prescribed for the treatment of pain. Taking oxycodone according to a doctor’s instructions should only lead to minimal side effects, but even this comes with risks. Recreational or non-prescription use of oxycodone can lead to a number of serious physical and mental health issues including moderate to severe anxiety.

Oxycodone Use and Anxiety

Oxycodone use or abuse can cause anxiety as a side effect. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “found that mood and anxiety disorders are highly associated with non-medical prescription opioid use.”1 This isn’t a surprise, as anxiety puts individuals at risk for dependence and addiction.

Psychiatric Times shares, “The odds of alcohol dependence being diagnosed are 2 to 3 times greater among patients with an anxiety disorder; these correlations are even greater for drug dependence.”2 You may struggle with anxiety as a result of oxycodone use, or you may struggle with drug dependence because of anxiety. These two issues support one another and create an unhealthy, escalating cycle.

Oxycodone and Withdrawal

Oxycodone can cause anxiety while it is being used. It can also cause anxiety when someone stops using it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shares, “Opioid craving, depression, anxiety, and anhedonia are triggers for relapse.”3 Individuals experiencing withdrawal-related anxiety symptoms or panic attacks may return to oxycodone to find temporary relief. However, this isn’t a real solution, and in the long-term it will create more anxiety problems than it masks.

When Anxiety Occurs at the Same Time as Oxycodone Use

Anxiety may exist before oxycodone use begins. It may develop independently of addiction. It may not simply be a symptom of use or withdrawal. Even if anxiety is its own, co-occurring issue, it is not separate from drug use. This Dual Diagnosis needs integrated treatment that addresses both issues at once. These two linked issues fuel one another, and leaving one untreated means both are likely to reappear in the future.

Treating a Dual Diagnosis

Integrated treatment begins with an in-depth assessment. Professionals then work with patients to create a customized plan. Many treatment methods that work for one actually benefit the other. For example Cognitive Behavior Therapy teaches tool, tips and strategies that help patients manage their complete mental health.

This is why Social Work in Public Health explains, “Cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs) are among the most efficacious psychosocial treatments that social workers can use to treat individuals with anxiety disorders and SUDs.”4

Treating co-occurring anxiety and oxycodone use issues is complex, but it is certainly doable. CBT is just one of many treatment approaches professionals can take to address co-occurring anxiety and oxycodone use disorder.

Integrated treatment comes with many benefits. As long as a person is in rehab, he or she can see multiple professionals in the same location rather than visiting one doctor for oxycodone addiction help and another for anxiety treatment. Inpatient integrated treatment provides consistent care, accountability and compassion.

Medical professionals can assess how well treatment is working on an individual basis and make necessary changes to the treatment plan. Inpatient facilities stress personal, individualized care and offer the range of resources needed for a solid foundation for long-term recovery.


“Opioid Abuse Linked to Mood and Anxiety Disorder.” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 13 Dec. 2011.

Kushner, Matt and Specker, Sheila. “Substance Use Disorders in Patients with Anxiety Disorders.” Psychiatric Times. 7 Sep. 2011.

Krupitsky, Evgeny. “Anhedonia, Depression, Anxiety, and Craving for Opiates in Opiate Addicts Stabilized on Oral Naltrexone and Long-Acting Naltrexone Implant.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2015.

Brady, Kathleen, et al. “Substance Use Disorders and Anxiety: A Treatment Challenge for Social Workers.” Social Work in Public Health. 2013.

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