Oxycodone and Acetaminophen Side Effects, Uses, and Interactions
Often opioid prescription painkillers are combined with other medicines to increase their effectiveness. One such common combination is oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone and acetaminophen are most commonly known as the brand name Percocet, although there are other names for this combination.
Some of the other brand names for oxycodone and acetaminophen include:
But again, the most common oxycodone and acetaminophen combination is Percocet. Various combinations of oxycodone and acetaminophen may be available as tablets, solutions, extended release tablets or capsules.
Oxycodone and acetaminophen can be used to treat pain ranging from moderate to severe, and oxycodone is part of a class of medicines called narcotic analgesics. All narcotic analgesics impact the central nervous system by binding to opioid receptors and changing the way the person senses pain. The combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen strengthens the pain-fighting power of Percocet and other similar drugs. The acetaminophen may be an over-the-counter medicine, but when paired with an opioid it makes it even more effective.
With opioids including oxycodone, what happens is that you take it and you may feel a euphoric rush, particularly if you take a stronger dose. Your brain floods your system with dopamine which is a feel-good chemical because of the drug, and then your brain wants to keep that feeling going. That’s why you become addicted to opioids. Your brain is wired to repeat pleasurable things.
This is why oxycodone is Schedule II. According to the DEA, this means that it does have medical uses in the U.S., but it also can lead to addiction.
There’s something else to consider when looking at the side effects of oxycodone and acetaminophen and that’s physical dependence. Physical dependence is separate from addiction, and it can occur with or without a psychological addiction to the drug. Physical dependence means your body has become dependent on the use of a drug, which in this case would be oxycodone. When that happens, and you try to stop using it suddenly, you may have withdrawal symptoms.
Also relevant to discussing oxycodone and acetaminophen are the risks of the acetaminophen alone. Acetaminophen is not habit-forming and available over-the-counter, but it can cause severe liver damage if too much is taken for a period of time. Usually, anything over 4000 mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period can become dangerous and may cause liver failure.
It’s also important that people taking oxycodone and acetaminophen avoid using other central nervous system depressants while they’re on this drug. This is because central nervous depressants including alcohol and benzodiazepines can lead to extreme CNS depression. With marked CNS depression, side effects can include hypotension, profound sedation, coma or death.
It’s also important not to drink when you take oxycodone and acetaminophen because you’re amplifying the potential for liver damage to occur.