Can You Become Addicted to Oxygen Use?

Some patients require a greater concentration of oxygen.
Some patients require a greater concentration of oxygen. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Some medical conditions require patients to receive medical oxygen rather than relying on the amount of oxygen received by breathing regular air. Like most other medical treatments, the use of oxygen often requires a prescription. One concern that some patients have when prescribed oxygen is whether its use can be addictive.


Some people who are prescribed oxygen are under the impression that they will be receiving 100 percent oxygen to ensure that they are getting the levels they need in their blood. However, this is not true. In fact, the percentages are not all that different between room air and tank air. Room air typically consists of around 21 percent oxygen levels. The air that comes out of a tank contains oxygen levels between 24 and 30 percent, which provides the higher levels required for patients.

Risks of Use

The risks of the use of oxygen are also often misunderstood by patients. Some patients think that if they use their oxygen for an extended period of time, their bodies will become addicted to it. Some also feel that if they only use their oxygen on a part-time basis, their bodies will eventually require its use full-time. Neither of these scenarios is true. Oxygen is completely safe to use under a doctor's supervision for any period of time at any rate of use without the risk of addiction or increased use.

Side Effects

Even though oxygen cannot become physically addictive to your body, there are possible side effects patients can experience while using oxygen. These side effects may become even more pronounced if oxygen levels become too high. One of the most noticeable side effect of too much oxygen is fatigue. Using oxygen at levels that are too high for a long period of time can also cause damage to the lungs. This potential damage means that patients should be followed closely by their doctors while using oxygen.

Oxygen Levels

Because the body is dependent upon oxygen to function correctly, making sure patients get the right amount of oxygen in their blood is important. This dependency is also why oxygen cannot be addictive; it is a requirement for life. When a patient has a medical condition, such as lung disease or heart disease, in which less oxygen makes it into the bloodstream, higher levels of oxygen are required to ensure the proper amount is present in the blood. In some patients, the use of oxygen for a period of time can correct the underlying medical condition, allowing the patient to stop oxygen use. In other cases, the patient's body may deteriorate further, requiring higher levels of oxygen as time progresses. This does not indicate an addiction, rather it just means that the medical condition is worsening.

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