Oxycodone is an opioid medication and is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is often used after surgery and is sometimes used to treat chronic pain that cannot be treated by other medications. Because it is an opioid medication, oxycodone can become addictive and is classified as a controlled substance, making it illegal to sell or use without a doctor’s prescription.

Oxycodone is often over-prescribed, causing more people to become addicted to it. Legislators, law enforcement and healthcare professionals are working toward reducing the use and availability of this drug to help stem the tide of the opioid epidemic.

What Is Oxycodone?

People who have been prescribed oxycodone may wonder, “What is oxycodone?” Oxycodone is an opioid drug that interacts with opioid receptors in the brain. This interaction leads to a decrease in the sensation of pain and may release chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins create a pleasurable sensation and can lead to a high. Repeated highs from oxycodone may create an addiction. The risk of addiction developing increases the longer someone takes oxycodone.

People who learn about oxycodone sometimes ask, “What is oxy?” Oxy is a slang term used to refer to oxycodone. Sometimes oxy will be used as a street name for oxycodone, but healthcare professionals may also refer to oxycodone as oxy.

Another common question people have when learning about oxycodone is, “What is the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone?” This is a good question because those drugs are very similar. Both are strong opioids, are made through a similar process and have similar properties. One study found that both oxycodone and hydrocodone had the same pain-killing effect when the same dose was given. Some studies suggest that oxycodone may be slightly more addictive than hydrocodone, but overall, these two drugs are quite similar in their effect and in their level of addictiveness.

Dosage and Administration

Oxycodone comes in pill or capsule form and is only designed to be used by mouth. Any other way of using oxycodone is unsafe. There are two different forms of oxycodone: immediate-release and extended-release. Immediate-release oxycodone is designed to get into the bloodstream and provide pain relief as soon as possible. Immediate-release oxycodone comes in doses between 5 mg and 30 mg.

Extended-release oxycodone is designed to slowly release the oxycodone into the bloodstream over a long period, typically 12 hours. This function allows for long-term pain treatment and helps to avoid potential addiction by maintaining a low, continuous level of oxycodone. Extended-release oxycodone comes in doses between 10 mg and 80 mg. These two types of oxycodone may come in abuse-deterrent formulations that make it impossible to try to inject or make it unpleasant to use nasally.

There is no specific safe maximum dose of oxycodone to take within 24 hours like there is for some other medications. The amount of oxycodone that can be safely used depends upon several factors including:

  • Age
  • History of opioid use
  • Other medications being used
  • Diseases affecting oxycodone metabolism

People should only use oxycodone as prescribed by a physician because it is very easy to accidentally take a lethal dose of oxycodone. What may be a safe oxycodone max dose for one person can be lethal for someone who is not used to that dose or is taking a medication that makes oxycodone levels higher for them.

What Does Oxycodone Look Like?

People considering buying oxycodone on the street will wonder what oxycodone looks like. No one wants to purchase fake pills that look like oxycodone that may contain other drugs.

Oxycodone is made by several different manufacturers and will look different based on which manufacturer made it. Each manufacturer will also make pills with different shapes, sizes, colors and imprints, depending upon the dose and formulation. There is no single example of what oxycodone pills look like, as there are numerous variations.

One potential way to determine if a pill is actually oxycodone is to look up the shape, color and other identifying features on a reputable pill identifier, but even that can be misleading if a drug dealer makes a pill based on how oxycodone is known to appear. The only safe way to obtain oxycodone is by purchasing it using a valid prescription.

Brand Names

There are several oxycodone brand names. Generic oxycodone will always be called oxycodone, however, different manufacturers will use different brand names to sell oxycodone. Some of the most common brand names include:

  • OxyContin

    OxyContin is the most commonly used brand name for oxycodone and includes multiple doses of immediate-release oxycodone and extended-release oxycodone.

  • Tylox

    Tylox is a brand name for oxycodone that includes a mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol). A Tylox pill includes a small, 5 mg dose of oxycodone mixed with 500 mg of acetaminophen, the same strength as an extra-strength Tylenol. This combination of an opioid medication and Tylenol treats pain by mixing the effects of the two medications and making a stronger pain treatment than each of the two medications added together would make.

  • Percodan

    Percodan treats pain by mixing the effects of oxycodone and aspirin and contains about 5 mg of immediate-release oxycodone and 325 mg of aspirin. This combination allows for a better treatment of pain using a smaller dose of oxycodone.

  • Oxycet

    Oxycet is a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone that has the same dose as Tylox, and is essentially the same as Tylox, but with a different name.

  • Percocet

    Percocet is the most common combination formula that uses oxycodone and mixes oxycodone and acetaminophen. Percocet uses less acetaminophen than Tylox or Oxycet. Percocet can also come with varying doses of oxycodone and comes with 5mg, 7.5mg or 10mg of oxycodone. The doses for Percocet will often be written as 5/325, 7.5/325 or 10/325, depending upon the amount of oxycodone that each one contains.

  • Roxicet

    Roxicet is another combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen and comes in either a tablet or as a solution. Roxicet contains 5 mg of oxycodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen.

  • Roxicodone

    Roxicodone is a brand name for oxycodone by itself and includes 5 mg, 15 mg and 30 mg immediate-release oxycodone.

Street Names for Oxycodone

There are several street names for oxycodone that are slang terms used when selling, using or discussing oxycodone. An oxycodone street name will often be related to the dose of that particular oxycodone. For example, an oxycodone 15 mg street name may be “perk 15”. Other common street names for oxycodone include:

  • Oxy
  • OC
  • Oxy Cotton
  • Oxy 80
  • Oxy 40
  • Oxy 30
  • 30s
  • 15s
  • Greenies
  • Blues
  • Percs
  • Hillbilly Heroin

Street names frequently change, with new ones being developed constantly and old ones falling out of use. Purchasing street drugs should be avoided.

Oxycodone Side Effects

While learning about oxycodone, people often wonder, “What are the side effects of oxycodone?” While there are many oxycodone side effects that may be experienced, most oxycodone effects are due to the fact that it depresses nerve transmission. This decreased nerve transmission decreases the sensation of pain. It also changes and slows many important functions in the body.

Oxycodone’s side effects in the elderly are not different from the side effects that younger people experience, but they can be more extreme. As people age, their bodies metabolizes slower, kidneys slow down and there is less protein in the blood. All these factors work together to make the amount of oxycodone in the bloodstream higher for longer than would be the case for a younger person.

Physical side effects of oxycodone are all due to the slower nerve transmissions that occur with oxycodone use. Some physical side effects of oxycodone include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Decreased rate and depth of breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Decreased responsiveness
  • Slurred speech
  • Constricted pupils

In severe cases, especially during an overdose, the decreased rate and depth of breathing may become so severe that it causes the person who is overdosing to stop breathing. People who die during an oxycodone overdose often die because of the decreased rate of breathing.

The long-term psychological effects of oxycodone are caused when addiction develops. Addiction is often caused by a substance use disorder and leads to the development of psychological problems. This result can lead to decreased socialization, increased focus on obtaining or using oxycodone and financial or legal problems related to oxycodone use. Someone with a substance use disorder may not realize that they have this disorder until they begin taking a potentially addictive substance, such as oxycodone.

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Because Oxycodone can impair a person’s ability to drive, operate machinery or perform other important tasks, those who are taking oxycodone will often wonder how long does oxy stay in the body?

Oxycodone will stay in the bloodstream for about 24 hours and will continue to have some effect on you while it is in your bloodstream. The length of the effect of oxycodone will depend, too, upon whether the oxycodone is an immediate-release formula or an extended-release formula. Some of the ways that oxycodone is tested include:

  • Blood

    Most of the time, oxycodone will be detectable in the bloodstream for about 24 hours.

  • Urine

    Oxycodone can be detected in urine for approximately three to four days.

  • Hair

    Hair retains traces of drugs for longer than any other element. Hair tests for oxycodone may detect use of the drug for up to 90 days after the last time it was used.

  • Saliva

    Saliva testing is less common, but oxycodone may show up in saliva tests for up to four days.

  • Breastmilk

    Taking oxycodone and breastfeeding has been shown to cause the oxycodone to cross over to the breast milk and affect the baby. This effect can lead to the baby experiencing some of the previously mentioned side effects of oxycodone use and can even lead to the baby developing respiratory symptoms.

Oxycodone Overdose

An oxycodone overdose occurs when someone takes more oxycodone than is safe to take. This amount varies based on age, medications being used and other factors. Sometimes an oxycodone overdose can occur when the prescribed instructions are followed. Someone who has overdosed on oxycodone may not be responsive, may have pinpoint pupils and may stop breathing. Overdose becomes fatal when breathing is slowed to the point that it is unable to provide the oxygen necessary to sustain life.

If an overdose is suspected, call 911 immediately.

Is Oxycodone Addictive?

Oxycodone is very addictive, and many people inappropriately use oxycodone for recreational purposes. Those who struggle with and addiction to oxycodone may wonder, “why Is oxycodone addictive?” The addictiveness of oxycodone is due to the chemical changes that it creates in the brain. Oxycodone releases endorphins which create a sensation of pleasure. This sensation, when sustained over a prolonged period of time, can lead to the development of an addiction.

Patients who are prescribed oxycodone by their doctor will often wonder, “how long does it take to get addicted to oxycodone?” This is definitely a valid concern, as many people who become addicted to opioids initially become addicted to legally obtained prescription medication. The rate of addiction for opioids is low when they are used for three or less days, but the risk of opioid addiction starts to increase each day after the third day. Use of oxycodone for more than 30 days is associated with higher rates of addiction. The longer that someone takes an opioid, the more at risk they are for developing an opioid addiction.

If you or a loved one struggle with oxycodone, professional help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can address a substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Take the first step toward a healthier future by calling today.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.