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Oxycodone vs. OxyContin: Is One More Addictive?

Neither OxyContin nor oxycodone is more addictive or effective. At a chemical level, they are the same potent opioid with both legitimate medical uses and dangers. You should only take these drugs if they are prescribed by a doctor, and you should only use them as prescribed.

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Oxycodone and OxyContin are essentially the same drug. OxyContin is one of several brand names for oxycodone.[1]

Brand Name vs. Generic

Oxycodone and OxyContin refer to the same thing for most purposes. OxyContin is a brand-name medication of the drug oxycodone hydrochloride. 

Some people understandably wonder if brand-name medications are superior in some way to generic versions of the same medication (or other brand-name medications). These types of questions can be important because brand-name medication can cost significantly more than generic options.

Generic drugs are designed to match already marketed brand-name drugs in these ways:

  • Form
  • Safety
  • Strength
  • Route of administration
  • Quality
  • Performance characteristics 
  • Intended use

The goal when creating a generic drug is bioequivalence. This term means a drug works in the exact way and with the same clinical benefits as a brand-name medication.[2] 

Effectiveness: Which Medication Works Better?

As a generic medication, oxycodone should be chemically identical to OxyContin. It will thus affect a user just as OxyContin would. These drugs are interchangeable, assuming one takes an equivalent dose. 

Generic oxycodone, other brand names for the drug, and OxyContin should be treated as narcotics with legitimate medical uses. They also have notable abuse and addiction potential, especially if they are not used exactly as prescribed. 

Side Effects & Warnings

Oxycodone is a potent pain medication that can have various side effects. It has the potential to be dangerous, even if taken as prescribed. 

Here are some common side effects that may occur while taking oxycodone:[3,4]

  • Constipation: Opioids can slow down bowel movements by weakening some relevant muscles, resulting in constipation.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals may experience feelings of nausea or vomiting when using oxycodone. This side effect generally dissipates with continued use.
  • Drowsiness and sedation: Oxycodone can cause drowsiness and impair motor functions. This is one reason you shouldn’t drive when first starting on oxycodone until you know it affects you.
  • Dizziness: Certain people may feel lightheaded or woozy while using oxycodone.
  • Itchiness: This is a relatively common side effect of oxycodone and other opioids. If itchiness (also known as pruritus), persists, alternative treatments may be recommended.[5]
  • Dry mouth: Oxycodone can decrease saliva production, leading to a dry mouth.
  • Mood changes: Oxycodone has the potential to affect mood and emotions, causing euphoria, anxiety, or mood swings.
  • Reduced appetite: Oxycodone might cause decreased appetite for some users, leading to weight loss with repeated use.
  • Respiratory depression: High doses or misuse of oxycodone can result in slow or shallow breathing, which is a severe and potentially life-threatening side effect. If respiratory depression occurs, emergency medical attention is needed.
  • Overdose: Misuse of oxycodone can lead to overdose, and this risk increases if oxycodone is combined with other substances of abuse. Naltrexone (Narcan) can immediately reverse an opioid overdose if it is administered in time.[6]

When to Get Help for OxyContin or Oxycodone Misuse

Remember that it’s crucial to take oxycodone and OxyContin exactly as prescribed by a healthcare professional and be aware of the drug’s side effects. These drugs can be very dangerous if misused and have the potential to cause addiction. 

If you’ve been taking oxycodone or any opioid for a sustained period, don’t stop taking it suddenly on your own. Even if you’ve been taking it as prescribed, you’ll need to taper off the medication. If you’ve been misusing it, you may benefit from the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to address your opioid use disorder (OUD).

Updated November 6, 2023
  1. Oxycodone (marketed as OxyContin) Information. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Published July 7, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  2. Generic Drugs: Questions & Answers. FDA. Published March 16, 2021. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  3. OxyContin Fast Facts. National Drug Intelligence Center. Accessed August 14, 2023.
  4. Benyamin R, Trescot AM, Datta S, Buenaventura R, Adlaka R, Sehgal N, Glaser SE, Vallejo R. Opioid Complications and Side Effects. Pain Physician. 2008 Mar;11(2 Suppl):S105-20. PMID: 18443635
  5. Okutani H, Lo Vecchio S, Arendt‐Nielsen L. Mechanisms and treatment of opioid‐induced pruritus: Peripheral and central pathways. European Journal of Pain. Published 2023. doi:10.1002/ejp.2180
  6. Naloxone for opioid overdose: Life-saving science. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published March 30, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2023.
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