OxyContin is one brand name of the opioid oxycodone. OxyContin more specifically is an extended-release version of oxycodone. It’s intended for around-the-clock pain treatment, particularly for people with severe, chronic pain. With OxyContin, the effects gradually occur over a 12-hour period.

Unfortunately, while the extended-release element of OxyContin should make this drug one that’s harder to abuse, many people crush it up and snort it or inject it. This gives them more rapid and much more powerful effects than if they just swallowed the pill. The result is often a euphoric high and intense relaxation, but these ways of taking OxyContin can also increase the risk of serious side effects like addiction and overdose.

The medication guide for OxyContin highlights the fact that this drug should only be used when other non-opioid pain medicines aren’t effective, nor are immediate-release opioids. OxyContin should not be used to treat pain that isn’t constant.

How Should OxyContin Be Taken?

As with other opioids, OxyContin should be taken exactly as directed and never without a prescription.

Due to the fact that OxyContin is a Schedule II controlled substance (meaning there is a high risk of abuse and addiction), a person should never take more of the medicine than they’re prescribed, take it more often than they’re directed or take it any other way than orally.

When a person speaks to their doctor about OxyContin, they should let them know of any history of substance abuse or if it runs in the family.

The side effects of OxyContin can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Changes in mood

The above are some of the common side effects, and there are more severe OxyContin side effects that are possible as well. These can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Problems breathing
  • Extreme drowsiness

OxyContin Interactions

Many drugs have interactions with other substances, and this can be particularly true with opioids. Opioids can be dangerous or fatal when combined with certain substances. Some of the medications that can interact negatively with OxyContin include:

  • Other narcotics
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety drugs
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sedatives

Alcohol can also have dangerous interactions with OxyContin. It’s important for people to be aware of these interactions, particularly when it comes to combining OxyContin with other central nervous system depressants. Combining drugs can slow down respiration to the point that a person slips into a coma or dies.

OxyContin Dosage

OxyContin should only be prescribed by a health care professional who understands the potency of and risks associated with opioids. A doctor will usually prescribe the lowest possible OxyContin dosage, depending on the individual patient and their level of pain. Also taken into consideration when determining an OxyContin dosage includes previous experience with analgesic treatments, and abuse and addiction risk factors that may be present.

The use of a higher OxyContin dosage such as a single dosage of more than 40 mg or a daily total of more than 80 mg is only intended for patients who already have a tolerance to opioids. For patients who aren’t opioid-tolerant, the recommended introductory OxyContin dosage of 10 mg may be taken every 12 hours. If a non-opioid tolerant patient were to start out with a dose higher than that, it could lead to respiratory depression.

Of course, every person and scenario are unique and someone should never take OxyContin without a prescription, or attempt to deviate from the instructions of their physician when taking it.

Camille Renzoni
Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Christina Caplinger
Medically Reviewed By – Christina Caplinger, RPh
Christina Caplinger is a licensed pharmacist in both Colorado and Idaho and is also a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.