• Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Oxycodone
Drug Class: Oxycodone > Semi Synthetic Opioid > Opioids > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a semi synthetic opioid (narcotic) that is indicated for the relief of moderate to severe pain. In addition to pain relief, oxycodone can create a powerful high if abused. Misuse can also lead to dependence, addiction or potentially fatal overdose. Because of this, oxycodone should only be taken as directed, according to dosing guidelines set forth by a medical professional.

Oxycodone is marketed under names including Percocet and OxyContin, both powerful analgesics that have helped many people in their time of suffering. This drug can, however, be prone to problems with physical and/or psychological dependence.


Doctors prescribe oxycodone to relieve moderate to severe pain. Pharmacologists offer extended-release versions of oxycodone to provide around-the-clock relief for chronic pain. Oxycodone is not recommended for the treatment of post-operative pain unless you were taking this opioid to treat pain before your surgery.

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Before Taking Oxycodone

Anyone who takes a prescription medication should be fully informed before starting therapy. Taking precautions with medication can help a person to have a positive experience. Some people experience unnecessary complications if they take oxycodone or other medication without knowing all the facts.

Doctors are advised to start patients out on the lowest possible dosage, which can be adjusted if pain relief is not adequate. In most cases, doctors will weigh the benefits and risks before prescribing this medication.

Some side effects are likely with oxycodone although many are short lived. The most common complaint among those on opiate therapy is constipation. Others include nausea, vomiting and sleeplessness.

It's also important to know which drugs will interact with oxycodone. It depresses the central nervous system so other substances of this nature will compound those effects if taken together.

The facts surrounding oxycodone use should be explored fully before patients begin therapy. It can be a very useful tool in the fight against pain as long as precautions are taken.


Brand name oxycodone preparations include Dazidox, OxyContin, Oxyfast, OxyIR, Percolone, Roxicodone, Roxicodone Intensol, M-Oxy, ETH-Oxydose, and Endocodone.

Oxycodone comes in immediate- and extended-release formulas. Doctors typically prescribe a lower initial dose and, later, a higher maintenance dose. This gives your body time to become tolerant to opioids. The usual initial dose for immediate-release oxycodone is 5 mg to 15 mg every four to six hours as needed. The typical maintenance dose for immediate-release oxycodone is 10 mg to 30 mg every four hours. Doses larger than 30 mg are rarely required and should be used with caution.

Physicians normally prescribe an initial dose for extended-release oxycodone of 10 mg every 12 hours. The typical maintenance prescription starts at 20 mg and can be as high as 240 mg per day for people with cancer. The average daily dose is about 105 mg daily; cancer patients may use "rescue" doses to treat breakout pain.

Pediatricians prescribe 0.05 mg to 0.15 mg for babies younger than one year old and who weigh less than 50 kg. Children older than one year and who weigh more than 50 kg may use an initial dose of 5 mg orally every six hours; pediatricians may increase the dose to 10 mg every three to four hours.

Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of oxycodone. Physicians should use care when prescribing oxycodone to elderly patients and monitor this patient closely during the initial doses. The typical initial dose for geriatric patients is 2.5 mg of immediate-release oxycodone every six hours, increasing the dosage as needed. Doses greater than 30 are rarely needed.

Doctors typically prescribe regular oxycodone to be taken only as needed to relieve pain rather than on a regular schedule, so missed doses are not normally an issue. Your doctor may recommend you take extended-release oxycodone formulas on a regular schedule to provide uninterrupted coverage. If you have missed a schedule dose, simply take the missing dose as soon as you remember. If it is nearly time to take another dose, and you can tolerate the symptoms, skip the missed dose and resume your normal schedule. Do not take extra oxycodone in an effort to catch up. Talk with your doctor if you have trouble maintaining your prescribed schedule.

Do not crush or chew extended-release oxycodone tablets; swallow the tablet whole. Breaking up an extended-release tablet may cause too much of the medicine to enter your bloodstream at once, resulting in overdose.

Take oxycodone with plenty of water to prevent choking. If your doctor has prescribed two tablets, take one pill at a time.

Oxycodone may cause constipation. Drink six to eight full glasses of water each day to soften stool. Talk with your doctor or dietician about increasing your intake of dietary fiber, known to be beneficial to your digestive tract. Do not use a stool softener or laxative without first discussing it with your doctor.

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When your body cells are injured by trauma or illness, they release chemicals that bind to pain receptors in your nerve endings. These chemicals send pain signals to your brain. Oxycodone works by binding to pain receptors, sending signals of pleasure and euphoria to your brain instead of signals of pain. Oxycodone changes the way your brain perceives pain.

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Tell your doctor if you are allergic to oxycodone, a narcotic pain medication or to any other drug. Allergic reaction is a serious condition. Seek medical help at the first sign of an allergic reaction.

Allergic drug reactions can cause:

  • Skin Rash or Hives
  • Itchy Skin
  • Wheezing or Other Breathing Problems
  • Swelling of Body Parts
  • Anaphylaxis: A Life-Threatening Allergic Reaction

Your doctor may recommend a different drug or change your oxycodone dosage if you have had a history of certain medical conditions. Your medical condition may interfere with the way oxycodone works, or oxycodone may worsen your condition. Tell your physician about any significant illnesses or conditions, including:

  • Asthma, COPD, Sleep Apnea or Other Breathing Disorders.
  • Liver or Kidney Disease.
  • Underactive Thyroid.
  • Trouble Swallowing
  • Stomach or Intestinal Blockage.
  • Curvature of the Spine.
  • History of Head Injury or Brain Tumor.
  • Epilepsy or Other Seizure Disorder.
  • Low Blood Pressure.
  • Gallbladder Disease.
  • Addison's Disease or Other Adrenal Gland Disorders.
  • Enlarged Prostate or Urination Problems.
  • Mental Illness.
  • History of Drug or Alcohol Addiction.

Oxycodone may make you dizzy or drowsy. It may also affect your ability to make quick decisions. Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how oxycodone affects you.

Do not consume alcohol while taking this drug. Drinking alcohol while taking oxycodone may cause serious side effects or even death. Check the labels of all prescription and over-the-counter medications to be sure the product does not contain alcohol. Ask your pharmacist if you are unsure.

This drug can be habit-forming, especially if you take high doses or use oxycodone for a long time. Tell your doctor if your current prescription stops working to relieve your symptoms; this is a sign that your body is developing a tolerance to oxycodone. Do not take a high dose or use oxycodone more frequently than prescribed to reduce your risk for dependence.

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Do not take oxycodone if you are having an asthma attack or trouble breathing. Oxycodone may cause respiratory depression, a set of breathing problems characterized by slow and shallow breathing.

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has classified oxycodone as a pregnancy category B. This means taking oxycodone during pregnancy is not expected to harm your unborn child but you should still notify your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking oxycodone. Oxycodone can pass into breast milk; do not take oxycodone while breastfeeding your baby.

Do not stop taking oxycodone abruptly unless directed to do so by a doctor. Sudden cessation may cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Try weaning yourself from oxycodone use by taking smaller doses further apart.

Oxycodone may be prescribed for everything from a moderate injury to severe pain from cancer. People who need long-term therapy with oxycodone will likely become physically dependent. This means that withdrawal symptoms will develop once use is stopped. People may continue along their course of therapy after this happens, without further escalation of the problem.

Oxycodone could include both a physical and psychological dependence and most often follows a pattern of abuse. This drug is a controlled substance and is considered to have a high abuse potential. Serious problems can develop for those who misuse the drug. Opioid addiction is very serious and is best treated medically in a supportive environment.

Oxycodone may lead to dependence and addiction which are challenging problems that can affect a person's physical and mental health, finances and relationships. Many people who become addicted are so compelled to take the drug despite negative consequences. This is often because people enjoy the powerful effects they can experience if the drug is abused and because cravings can be overwhelming.

Opioid withdrawal is also very hard to deal with. Fear of this often keeps people using and keeps them from seeking help.

More Warnings About Using Oxycodone

Drug Interactions

Oxycodone may interact with other drugs in unfavorable or unsafe ways. Give your doctor and pharmacist a list of all your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies. Do not start or stop taking any drug without first consulting your physician – this includes over-the-counter preparations.

Do not take oxycodone with other medications that affect your breathing, like sleep aides, other narcotics, tranquilizers and sedatives. Do not take cold or allergy medications while using oxycodone. Dangerous side effects may result if you use oxycodone along with muscle relaxers or medicines for seizures, depression or anxiety.

Tell your doctor if you use pentazocine or nalbuphine, known by their brand names Talwin and Nubain. Notify your physician if you use Stadol, Buprenex or Subutex.

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Side effects

Some patients have reported side effects after taking oxycodone. Most of these side effects are not serious but let your doctor know if common side effects become intolerable or won't go away on their own. Common side effects include difficulty having a bowel movement, drowsiness, loss of strength, relaxed and calm feeling, sleepiness or unusual drowsiness.

Some side effects can be serious or even fatal. Seek medical help if you experience any of these serious side effects:

  • Shallow Breathing or Slow Heartbeat.
  • Seizure.
  • Cold, Clammy Skin.
  • Confusion.
  • Severe Weakness or Dizziness.
  • Feeling Like You Might Pass Out.

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Oxycodone overdose is a serious, potentially life-threatening medical emergency. If you suspect you or someone you know has taken an overdose of oxycodone, contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or go to the emergency room. Doctors and nurses will perform emergency, life-saving treatments including using medicine to lower oxycodone levels in the blood, medicine to reverse the effect of the oxycodone or pumping your stomach. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Change in Consciousness.
  • Chest Pain or Discomfort.
  • Constricted, Pinpoint or Small Pupils.
  • Decreased Awareness or Responsiveness.
  • Extreme Drowsiness.
  • Loss of Consciousness.
  • No Muscle Tone or Movement.
  • Severe Sleepiness.
  • Slow or Irregular Heartbeat.

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Oxycodone is a favorite among recreational users because of the oxycodone because of the euphoric feeling associated with narcotic use. Abusers use oxycodone to get high. Abusers get oxycodone on the street, by presenting fake prescriptions to pharmacies, getting prescriptions from multiple doctors or by stealing from friends, family members or even pharmacies and hospitals.

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Withdrawal is a symptom of physiological process; withdrawal symptoms do not represent a person's moral character. Your body can become physically dependent on oxycodone whether you have been taking it legally or illegally. You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking oxycodone, especially if you have been using high doses or taking the opioid for a long time. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. Withdrawal symptoms may be severe enough to prevent you from quitting oxycodone without the help of a rehabilitative professional.

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Dependence and addiction to oxycodone is often difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you have been taking large doses or using these opioids for a long time. Detoxification can be a challenging and extremely unpleasant experience. Rapid detox programs offer a humane alternative to standard detoxification programs. During rapid detox, a physician sedates and anesthetizes you, simultaneously administering medications that hasten the detoxification process. You will be unaware of the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. You will awaken refreshed, your body cleansed from oxycodone.

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Store oxycodone at room temperature, away from moisture, heat and light. Keep oxycodone away from children and pets. Put this opioid where adults cannot consume it by accident or on purpose.

Flush unused oxycodone down the toilet. Discard any liquid oxycodone more than 90 days old.

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Oxycodone History

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid used to manage moderate to severe pain. It has been around since 1916, when it was synthesized in Germany. This medication was developed from thebaine to improve upon analgesics available at the time. Heroin was a popular pain treatment in the years prior to this, but was phased out because of harsh side effects that included addiction.

It was hoped that oxycodone, introduced to the U.S. market in 1939, would provide the same powerful pain relief with fewer side effects. This was achieved in part, as it doesn't have the same immediate effect as heroin or morphine and doesn't last as long.

For years, oxycodone was used by people for pain relief but not at the levels it is now. Today, problems of addiction and accidental death due to oxycodone overdose have plagued communities across the country. This is especially true of OxyContin, a controlled release version of oxycodone that has caused problems for many people who have become dependent through prolonged therapy or abuse.

OxyContin was introduced to the U.S. market in 1996 and prescriptions for this drug have skyrocketed since. Recreational use, abuse and diversion of OxyContin have increased dramatically since its introduction. It has a huge black market presence, with some experts saying it can command up to $1 per milligram. Interestingly, more and more people are turning to heroin because it is cheaper and sometimes easier to find on the street.

The availability of oxycodone on the black market is due to a number of factors including prescription falsification, doctor shopping and pharmacy theft. The overprescribing of this drug has also contributed to the problem. Oxycodone is a Schedule II Controlled Substance, classified this way because of its high potential to lead to abuse.

Oxycodone Substance Abuse in U.S.: Controlled Substances Act

The potent narcotic painkiller oxycodone is classified in the United States based on its medical use and high potential for abuse. This classification falls under the Controlled Substances Act, which establishes a 5-tiered classification for prescription drugs. Oxycodone is the opioid component in Percocet and OxyContin. These medications can be used safely but are considered drugs with a high potential for abuse and other problems. OxyContin in particular has been linked with numerous cases of addiction, overdose and accidental death.

The Controlled Substances Act, enacted in 1970, allows the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to regulate pharmaceutical controlled substances. This allows the agency to try and "prevent, detect and investigate the diversion of legally manufactured controlled substances while, at the same time, ensuring that there are adequate supplies to meet the legitimate medical needs in the United States."

Breakdown of Federal Drug Schedules Explained

Drugs that fall under the Schedule I category of the Controlled Substances Act are deemed to have no established medical use and a very high potential for abuse. Heroin, which is illegal, falls under this category. Schedule II drugs, including oxycodone, have a very high potential to be abused but are approved for medical use. Drugs under schedules III, IV and V are approved for medical use and have less potential for abuse.

Schedule III drugs include some stimulants and depressants. Schedule IV drugs include some sedatives and non-narcotic analgesics. Schedule V drugs include some cough medicines or anti-diarrhea preparations.

Wide Availability of Oxycodone Leads to Saturation of Black Market

Prescription medications are supposed to be dispensed by licensed professionals but opioids including oxycodone are highly subject to diversion and theft. This makes them widely available on the black market. In addition, some doctors will over-prescribe the medication, making it a target for illegal sale and distribution. There are also some pain management clinics throughout the country that dole out large quantities of oxycodone, often without requiring a prescription.

All of this feeds the escalating problem of oxycodone abuse. Law enforcement agencies are having trouble staying on top of the mounting cases of pharmacy theft, prescription fraud, personal and property crimes, illegal distribution and other crimes. Addiction to this drug has skyrocketed in recent years and this presents significant social, criminal and health challenges.

What You Need to Know if You Suspect Oxycodone Addiction

Abuse or misuse of any kind can lead quickly to oxycodone addiction. Signs of abuse can include: running out of medication before the prescription is due to be refilled; preoccupation with getting or taking the drug; and mood, personality and/or motivation changes.

Oxycodone addiction requires swift, professional intervention that's available through detox and rehab programs. Rapid opiate detox offers patients the chance to detox quickly in a medical environment.