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Are OxyContin And Oxycodone The Same Thing?

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 5, 2019

OxyContin is a brand name of Oxycodone that is prescribed for the treatment of severe pain. These medications are essentially the same drug, but Oxycodone is also sold under several other brand names that may have varying strengths or release methods.

Currently, within the United States, we are experiencing opioid abuse of epidemic proportions. In order to better protect ourselves against this and offer complete education, treatment, and prevention, it is key that we fully understand every aspect of the problem, including the drugs of abuse. Due to the greater number being prescribed, hence their greater availability, prescription painkiller abuse is on the rise, fueling this epidemic. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that in 2012, 16 million individuals aged 12 and older within the U.S. reported nonmedical use of an oxycodone product at some point in their life.

Understanding The Makeup Of Oxycontin And Oxycodone

In answer to the question—yes, these drugs are essentially the same, or rather OxyContin is always oxycodone, whereas, oxycodone is not always only OxyContin.

To start off with, OxyContin is a brand of drug, whereas oxycodone is the type of drug itself. OxyContin contains only oxycodone which is within the opioid class of drugs and is a semi-synthetic opioid narcotic analgesic or pain medicine. This drug is used to treat moderate to severe pain. There are other brand name drugs which exist also containing only oxycodone, including Oxaydo and others. These drugs have varying degrees of release, ranging from immediate (Oxaydo), to long-acting, the latter of which is OxyContin’s mechanism of action.

On the other hand, oxycodone is available in other preparations beyond OxyContin. This is because oxycodone is often mixed with other non-narcotic painkillers. Oxycodone may be mixed with acetaminophen (Percocet) and aspirin (Percodan). The significant difference between combination medications with oxycodone, versus straight oxycodone, as with OxyContin, is the amount of oxycodone. Generally speaking, the combination drugs have, at most, roughly 9 mg, nearly equivalent to the amount in the lowest dose of OxyContin, whereas the highest dose of OxyContin has 80 mg. It is for this reason that OxyContin has such widespread patterns of abuse.

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A Significant Risk Of Oxycodone Drug Abuse – Back Pain and Chronic Pain Challenges

Despite their application and significant benefit within the medical field when used properly, each carry high potential for abuse and addiction. Oxycodone, and any medication containing it, is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Controlled Substance Act, meaning that it has “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” The potential for abuse is so high, in fact, that there previously existed a 160 mg. tablet which has since been suspended.

Opioid drugs, including opioid pain medications, work by exerting a chemical impact on a person’s central nervous system. One side effect of this, especially when the drug is taken in a greater frequency or quantity or by a different delivery method other than orally (as with OxyContin, such as snorting, chewing it, inserting it rectally, or injecting it), is euphoria. This is the feeling people most commonly seek when abusing these drugs.

When an individual alters the means of administration, it is typically because they’re seeking to overcome the time-released nature of the drug, instead, flooding their body with it fairly instantaneously.

The most notable drug of concern is OxyContin, as it is an extended-release tablet, which can contain the highest amount of oxycodone that is available in prescription. This is highly dangerous, as the amount of drug that enters your system is that which was designed to be released slowly and incrementally over time. For example, OxyContin is meant to be delivered over twelve hours. In the case of abuse, the same amount of drug is rushing into your system in a fraction of this time. Because of this, the potential for overdose increases exponentially.

Opioid abuse, including that of drugs containing oxycodone, can cause a slew of risks and damage to the user. An individual who chooses to abuse these drugs may experience, in the most severe cases, addiction, a greater chance of experiencing a heart attack, coma, and even death. In order to alleviate these concerns, if you or someone you love is abusing these drugs, seek help immediately.

Treatment For Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse and addiction are critical matters, and when severe, they require rigorous and intensive treatment. In more serious cases, a person may require treatment at an inpatient drug rehab program, during which time he’ll receive a full spectrum of care geared towards helping him obtain and learn how to live a drug-free life.

A good facility for opioid addiction should offer a medical detox. After you’ve cleansed your body from the harmful toxins of these drugs, you may then engage in individual, group, or family therapies, psychotherapy, medication-assisted treatment, dual diagnosis care, pain management techniques, and aftercare support and relapse prevention.

Don’t Let These Drugs Ruin Your Life

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem. If you find that you’re using your drug in a way other than intended, or if you’re using another person’s prescription, you may be at risk of developing an addiction or already be suffering from one. If this is the case, please don’t let this continue—we can help you find ways to become sober. Contact us now at, and learn about the treatment options that exist to treat prescription drug abuse.

Center for Substance Abuse Research - Oxycodone

Drug Enforcement Administration - Oxycodone

Medline Plus - Oxycodone

Foundation for a Drug-Free World - OxyContin The "Hillbilly Heroin"

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