OxyContin is a brand-name medication with the active ingredient oxycodone. OxyContin medication has different purposes for the treatment of pain, which will be detailed below, as will an overview of the different uses, side effects and dangers of OxyContin medication in liquid form, and as tablets.

What Is OxyContin Medication?

As mentioned, the active ingredient in OxyContin is oxycodone, which is a narcotic pain medication, also classified as an opioid. Opioids are a class of drugs that act on the central nervous system to change how pain sensations are experienced, but they’re also addictive, so they’re either controlled substances available only by prescription, or in the case of opioid street drugs like heroin, they are illegal.

Oxycodone is considered a potent narcotic, and it acts similarly to codeine, morphine and hydrocodone. When someone takes oxycodone in the form of OxyContin medication, it makes them feel more comfortable as opioids eliminate pain signals in the body.

In the process, OxyContin medication can also lead to sedation and respiratory depression. These responses happen because all opioids bind to certain central nervous system receptors and slow down activity there. It’s possible for OxyContin and other opioids to slow respiration to a dangerous level, leading to an overdose or death.

Along with OxyContin, other brand-name versions of oxycodone include Roxicodone and Oxecta.

The uses of oxycodone as a prescription medication include pain management, particularly for severe pain. OxyContin is specifically a time-release version of oxycodone, which means that it can be taken for around-the-clock pain management.

OxyContin, because of its strength and addiction potential, is only supposed to be given to patients whose pain isn’t manageable with other treatment options.

Side Effects of OxyContin Medication

It’s important that a person who is prescribed OxyContin medication take it exactly as their doctor instructs to avoid overdose and also the risk of addiction.

OxyContin is an extended-release medication, so it should have a lower risk of addiction than immediate-release opioids. The drug’s effects are released slowly over a period of about 12 hours or so.

However, some people do abuse OxyContin medications in order to get the full, potent effects all at one time. OxyContin tablets can be crushed and snorted or dissolved and injected, which leads to a feeling of euphoria and an opioid high but also increases the likelihood of risks such as overdosing.

In general, side effects of OxyContin medication include feeling dizzy and lightheaded, drowsiness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, headache, constipation, dry mouth and sweating. Other rare but serious side effects of OxyContin can include depression and abnormalities in heart rate.

Oxycodone does have the risk of depressing breathing abilities, but this often occurs in people with serious lung diseases, and elderly or debilitated patients.

People who take OxyContin may also feel physically and mentally impaired, so they should be aware of this before doing anything like driving a car after taking the medication.

Something else to note about OxyContin medication is the fact that as with other narcotic pain relievers, it shouldn’t be mixed with certain other substances. These substances include alcohol and benzodiazepines because they also slow brain function and the activity of the central nervous system.

OxyContin Liquid

OxyContin commonly comes in tablet form, but there are also OxyContin liquid options available. Two examples are OxyNorm liquid and OxyNorm concentrate. They both have an oxycodone base, and they’re intended for the treatment of severe pain, usually in patients with cancer.

As with oxycodone extended-release tablets, OxyContin liquid is for patients who have already used other types of opioids and are opioid-tolerant. In patients who aren’t opioid-tolerant, the risk of respiratory depression can be high. If a patient isn’t used to the effects of a strong narcotic pain reliever, the risk of side effects is significantly higher.

Key Points: OxyContin Medication

OxyContin is a powerful opioid pain medication that comes in tablet form, and also as an OxyContin liquid. It’s used to change how the body feels, and how the brain responds to pain, and it’s for severe, ongoing pain.

OxyContin is an extended-release medication, and higher strengths of OxyContin medication are only for people who are opioid-tolerant. If OxyContin is given to a patient who’s not opioid-tolerant, particularly in high doses, they may overdose or die.

Also, OxyContin is not meant to be used for occasional pain, or pain that will go away in a few days or that is mild in severity.

It’s important for people to understand the uses, side effects and dangers of OxyContin medication before 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
Yuliya Sagan
Medically Reviewed By – Yuliya Sagan
Yulia is a cell and molecular biologist with expertise using embryonic stem cell models, 3D human tissue models, and animal models to investigate different human disease phenotypes including impaired wound healing, cardiovascular disease, and cancer metastasis. 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.