Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction

Oxycodone vs. Oxycontin: What's the Difference?

Oxycodone. vs OxyContin: What's the difference? Our blog explores prescription opioid painkillers, their effects, and their risks.

Oxycodone vs. Oxycontin: What's the Difference? Here's Our Guide to These Prescription Opioids

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 22, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Prescription pain medications help people live normal lives instead of chronic pain. Used as prescribed, opioid pain medications are safe and reliable ways to practice pain management.

When abused, it’s a different story.

Opioid painkillers have acted as a gateway to addiction for millions of Americans. Capable of producing euphoric effects (especially when abused), these medications have made people turn to stronger opioids like heroin when their prescriptions were no longer available. Plus, there’s the ever-present risk of bootleg and counterfeit pills, which can result in opioid overdoses when taken.

One of the questions many people ask us is about oxycodone versus OxyContin. Is there a difference? What are they?

Stats About Oxy Abuse:

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that over 16 million Americans above the age of 12 have been involved in abusing precipitation medication in over a year. About 2 million people are addicted to these misunderstood substances.

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for managing moderate to severe pain. It’s prescribed under many brand names, including:

  • Oxypro

  • Longtec

  • Reltebon

  • Roxicodone

  • Xtampza ER

  • OxyContin

Unlike other opioid drugs, oxycodone is a synthetic opioid. This means it’s made through chemical reactions in a laboratory as opposed to being derived from opium. It is mainly used in cases when other similar medications have proven to be effective. 

There are other oral narcotics that are prescribed for managing pain, such as codeine, morphine, and hydromorphone. Hydromorphone is the most powerful among these prescriptions, while codeine is the least.

The doctors measure the strength of opioids by converting their dose to equivalent doses of morphine. They prescribe an equivalent dose when they change from one prescription painkiller to another. The equivalent ratio of oxycodone to morphine dose is about 1-to-1.

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: How is Oxycodone Used?

Oxycodone is available in both pill form and liquid formulation for those who find it difficult to swallow pills easily. 

Some medications combine oxycodone with other pain relievers. These medications are the popular ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid, and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a medication that can be taken after four to six hours a day as it is an immediate-release tablet. Some people suffer from a chronic form of pain that requires them to have longer-term narcotic therapy.

In such cases, the doctors and physicians generally assign follow-up visitations regularly. These visits focus on evaluating the level of pain and assessing if there are any signs of abuse. 

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: Is Oxycodone Dangerous?

Like all opioid drugs, oxycodone can be dangerous. Mixing oxycodone with other drugs, like alcohol, can cause a person to stop breathing. Crushing and snorting oxycodone pills can cause severe damage to the nasal passages. Oxycodone has a significant risk of potential abuse and addiction. This is why oxycodone's product information clearly warns about the risk of abuse.

Many may not be aware that the usage of oxycodone has been reduced by a great amount. A decade ago, doctors used to prescribe oxycodone generously. This resulted in many people receiving unnecessarily high doses, leading them to become dependent on oxycodone. However, the medical community collectively pulled back once they learned that the medication was contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Now, many doctors are focused on looking for non-narcotic medication, and oxycodone's usage has been limited to severe pain cases involving surgeries, injuries, and terminal diseases like cancer.

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Oxycodone vs OxyContin: What Are Oxycodone Side Effects?

Oxycodone is a classified opioid medication that has a high potential for abuse. This is why the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed it under Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II indicates that the substance has a medical purpose but also carries a significant risk of abuse and addiction.

So, oxycodone has various side effects similar to other narcotic medications. These side effects range from commonly experienced mild to severe ones requiring medical attention. Let's have a look at both of them below.

Common Side Effects

Side effects that oxycodone users commonly experience are dizziness, dry mouth, headache, constipation, drowsiness, vomiting, and nausea. 

Severe Side Effects

Severe side effects of oxycodone should be immediately reported to a physician. People can have allergic reactions such as hives, skin rashes, and itching and swelling of the face, throat, lips, and tongue.

Some people may show signs of depression of the central nervous system with dizziness, confusion, trouble staying awake, shortness of breath, fainting, and shallow breathing. Others may experience lowered adrenal gland functioning, where an individual can experience fatigue, dizziness, vomiting, weakness, nausea, and loss of appetite.

There are also chances of having low blood pressure with symptoms like blurry vision, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: What is OxyContin Used For?

Oxycodone has various brand names, and OxyContin is one of them.

OxyContin (Oxycodone Hydrochloride) is an extended-release opioid analgesic that is predicted to only those patients who require pain relief throughout the day and night. It contains the medical ingredient of Oxycodone. However, unlike being an immediate-release tablet, OxyContin has an extended-release formulation. This means that the active ingredient is released slowly over a long period. Its pain-relieving effect stays for as long as 12 hours, considerably longer than oxycodone medication.

This controlled release mediation works by changing our perception and response to pain. It changes our brain and central nervous system response to the pain signals. 

OxyContin also works on lowering fatigue and anxiety experienced by the user. It also helps you sleep properly without feeling excruciating pain. This FDA-approved medication is mainly employed in knee replacement surgeries, fractured bones, and severe burns. Doctors recommend its usage about twice a day.

The morphine to OxyContin equivalent dose ratio is 2-to-1. This is higher than Oxycodone, whose ratio was 1-to-1. The product information label also mentions the risk of possible abuse and addiction. 

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: What Are Some Oxycontin Side Effects?

OxyContin is an opiate pain reliever that acts on opioid receptors in our brains and body. It decreases Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity and increases dopamine concentration. Dopamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter that perceives pleasure and rewards feelings. This increase in the release of dopamine can lead to the development of addiction. There are both short-term and long-term effects associated with OxyContin. Let's have a detailed look into it. 

Short-Term Effects of OxyContin

The possible side effects of using OxyContin may include dry mouth, nausea, constipation, and vomiting. The early signs of its abuse will include intermittent dozing off, slowed reaction time, constricted pupils, constipation, and lowered reflexes that can make it dangerous for the user to drive or operate heavy machinery. 

Long-Term Effects of OxyContin

The long-term consequences of using OxyContin are low blood pressure, respiratory depression, slowed breathing, and addiction. Opioid usage can lead to severe health complications such as muscle spasms, jerky and uncoordinated motor movement, reduced oxygen delivery to the brain and organs, possible infection and inflammation in the heart and lungs, and infected track marks increasing the risk of septicemia. 

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Oxycodone vs OxyContin: What is the Difference between Oxycontin and Oxycodone? 

The biggest distinction between oxycodone and OxyContin medication is the rate of release. A drug’s rate of release includes the drug's duration in the body and how quickly it shows its effects. Oxycodone has an immediate-release formula, while OxyContin has a controlled-release formula. The controlled-release formula gets released in a specific amount over time.

So, OxyContin will release the pain-relieving effect in a consistent dose. It is preferred when the patient needs relief for an extended period. It is not recommended for acute forms of pain experienced after surgery. Rather, it is used as a constant form of chronic pain. Oxycodone, on the other hand, has an onset period of 10 to 30 minutes after taking it. Its immediate-release formulation is meant to dissolve quickly without prolonging the effect. The drug is absorbed quickly and is mostly recommended to relieve acute pain.

Another difference between the two is that both children and adults can take oxycodone. This is not the case with OxyContin. It can be taken by both adults and children but with an age limit of 11. It is given to kids who have attained age 11 or above with the condition that they are already receiving a minimum dose of 20 mg of Oxycodone orally or any other equivalent opioid medication.

This condition is set due to the tolerance of medication in a child. The risk of opioid addiction is one similarity between both medications. The body can easily tolerate the narcotic doses, and extended use can risk addiction. This is especially the case with OxyContin. 

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: Oxycodone vs. Oxycontin: Which is Stronger?

Both OxyContin and oxycodone are analgesics that are used in managing pain. They both are opioids, so they act on the central nervous system by binding on opioid receptors throughout our body. However, it is important to note that they are both used for different purposes, so Oxycodone is considered superior.

Oxycodone can treat the pain experienced by cancer patients and bone-related pain. Clinical trials have also suggested that it can replace medication like morphine and hydromorphone in case of pain caused by cancer. 

Oxycodone vs OxyContin: Treating Oxycodone & OxyContin Abuse

The treatment for OxyContin and oxycodone abuse and addiction is similar. Despite having differences, they both are classified as opioids. The addiction treatment of opioids often begins with medical detox. It is then followed by a structured recovery program formulated with the help of doctors and patient input. Finally, behavioral counseling is provided to the patients as they need to learn healthy coping skills. 

Drug Detox

It is dangerous to attempt the drug detox process without the assistance or presence of any medical doctors. Withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids can be severe and painful. Therefore, it is necessary to have professional supervision over the process. Medical detox involves round-the-clock care from experienced care professionals.

They will eliminate opioid drugs from your system and clean the body. In addition, the addiction specialists will carefully manage the withdrawal symptoms with or without using medications. 

Addiction Center Treatment Programs

A treatment program will begin once opioids are eliminated from your system. It will include recovery activities and behavioral counseling sessions. Here, the patients will learn new and healthy methods to deal with the triggers that can create a risk of relapse.

Many patients with severe addiction symptoms prefer inpatient facilities over outpatient ones. This is because they like to feel safe and secure within the walls of an addiction center.

Outpatient Care

Patients who complete their inpatient programs are often transitioned to outpatient facilities. This allows them to secure their sobriety foundation and gain motivation to return to living a normal life like before. In addition, behavioral therapies like individual sessions, group meetings, Cognitive behavioral therapy, alternative treatment, and trauma therapies can continue. 

Aftercare

Recovery does not end with the completion of drug programs. It is a lifelong process, as relapse can always happen to anyone. Aftercare plans are for this purpose only. They help the patient to stay on the right path and lower the chances of relapse. Aftercare plans include individual counseling sessions, peer group meetings, support group programs, alumni group activities, and sober living residences. 

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Oxycodone versus OxyContin: Both are Addictive. The Forge Recovery Center Will Help

Substance abuse is a leading healthcare issue all around the world. The number of drug users is growing at a rapid rate. Be it underage kids, teenagers, older adults, or elderly individuals, drug addiction has become a common occurrence.

People who struggle with this disorder find it hard to accept the truth. Many are oblivious that their body is slowly becoming dependent on drugs. They refuse to acknowledge it out of fear, shame, or embarrassment and overlook their condition.

The Forge Recovery Center understands how hard admitting powerlessness in front of addiction can be. It’s why we’ve carefully curated a warm, nonjudgmental addiction center where real healing can take place. Guided by a trauma-guided philosophy and a deep understanding of opioid addiction, we offer proven, evidence-based care for opioid addiction.

If you want to learn more about our prescription opioid treatment program, please reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today.

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