Oxycodone Pharmacology

Oxycodone is widely known as an effective pain reliever for moderate to severe pain. This opioid (narcotic) agonist is marketed under such well-known names as Percocet and OxyContin. Percocet is an immediate release formulation and OxyContin is designed to fight pain over a 12-hour period. The potency of these drugs does bring some risks, but taking it strictly as prescribed can help prevent these.

In addition to pain relief, oxycodone can produce effects including euphoria, respiratory depression, feelings of relaxation, cough suppression and constipation. Oxycodone was first synthesized in the early 1900s as a replacement for heroin, which was the preferred pain reliever at the time but had too many side effects. The pain relieving effects of oxycodone work when the ingredient attaches to pain receptors in the brain and body.

How Oxycodone Works to Bring About Effects

Oxycodone works directly on respiratory centers in the brain stem to cause respiratory depression. It depresses the central nervous system so patients have to be careful when taking other substances that have this effect (alcohol, other narcotics, sedatives).

Some people take opioids for cough suppression. This is possible because they work on the cough center in the brain's medulla. This may happen at a lower dosage than what's needed for analgesia. Many people who take oxycodone or other opioids experience constipation. This is among the chief complaints of opioid therapy. This happens because the drug reduces motility in the body and hampers food digestion in the small intestine.

Dependency and Addiction Are Possible Hazards Involved with Oxycodone Use

Despite being prized for its analgesic abilities, oxycodone and other opioids can lead to dependency and addiction. It is considered to be a drug of abuse and needs to be taken carefully and according to specifications outlined in the medication's insert. This informational paper spells out precautions, warnings and guidelines for safe use.

Long-term opioid use can cause dysfunction of nerve cells in the brain. In a healthy body, these nerve cells would produce endogenous opioids, which are endorphins, or natural painkillers. The body eventually stops producing these endorphins because they are receiving opioids. This degeneration of nerve cells is what's responsible for the physical dependency. Physical and psychological dependence constitute addiction. This is best treated with professional detox and follow up programs to assist with the transition to wellness.