The Difference Between Oxycodone and Other Painkillers

The Difference Between Oxycodone and Other Painkillers

Oxycodone is different from other opiates in that it is used for extended pain relief

The Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland at College Park defines oxycodone as a semi-synthetic opiate. The drug is manufactured by modifying thebaine, the organic substance found in opium. Oxycodone changes the way the body perceives pain as it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, so it reduces how the brain reacts to pain. This drug also produces feelings of euphoria, so strong cravings for these feelings can lead to addiction.

Opiate Basics

Oxycodone is an opiate narcotic, a substance that changes how the body perceives pain due to how it works in the central nervous system. Unfortunately, this type of drug is highly habit forming, so using it in larger amounts or for longer than prescribed can lead to addiction. Oxycodone abuse can cause tolerance, meaning the user needs more of drug to produce the same level of relief. The drug can also cause dependence as it takes over the brain’s work. Dependence creates a sense of needing the drug to feel and function normally; addiction forms from dependence. When taken as prescribed, opiates can fight acute and chronic pain, but they are some of the most highly addictive painkillers on the market.

Oxycodone is different from other opiates in that it is used for extended pain relief. Certain types and intensities of pain require constant regulation so they never get out of control—once pain is out of control, more drugs are needed to break the pain cycle. Preventing the pain from getting to this point is the primary purpose of oxycodone, so using this particular drug in ways other than prescribed is incredibly dangerous. Oxycodone tablets should never be crushed or broken, nor should capsules ever be opened, as such activity can cause a fatal overdose. The drug can slow or even stop breathing, especially when the dosage is changed, so immediately report any symptom changes to your doctor when using this drug.

History of Oxycodone Abuse

The Center for Substance Abuse reports that oxycodone was considered a dangerous drug in as early as 1960. It was then that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime listed it as part of the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Ordinance. When OxyContin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995, illicit abuse of the drug rose almost immediately. The amount of oxycodone produced worldwide has dramatically increased since 1996: over 11 tons of the drug were manufactured in 1998, but 135.9 tons were in 2009. Oxycodone continues to be one of the most widely prescribed and abused narcotics in the world.

Differences Between Oxycodone and Other Opiates

The main difference between oxycodone and other opiates is how the substance is used. Most opiates are designed to treat pain on an as-needed basis—doses are typically given at four or six hour intervals based on the patient’s pain. However, oxycodone is given once every 12 hours, because the medication is a time-released formula that keeps pain under control for the duration of the dose. The drug manages pain from cancer and other conditions that require round-the-clock treatment. Because of its design, it is very dangerous to use oxycodone in ways other than prescribed.

Oxycodone Addiction Help

Oxycodone addiction means the body is dependent upon the drug to feel and function “normally.” Addicts need the euphoria the drug produces, so consider yourself an addict if you use oxycodone and recognize the following signs in yourself:

  • Needing more of the drug before the next dose is due
  • Withdrawal symptoms when oxycodone is stopped
  • Becoming preoccupied with getting and using the drug
  • Going into debt to get and use oxycodone
  • “Doctor shopping” to get new prescriptions for the drug
  • Engaging in illegal behaviors while under the influence of oxycodone
  • Participating in dangerous behaviors, like driving, while using the drug

Even one of these symptoms can indicate oxycodone dependence. If you or your loved one is struggling with this drug, then it’s time to get help.

Find Help for Oxycodone Abuse

Oxycodone can be an important part of managing chronic pain, but using the drug inappropriately can be dangerous and lead to addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with oxycodone abuse, we are here to help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.