OxyContin (oxycodone) is a pain medication available by prescription in the United States. It is part of a class of drugs known as opioids.

A person needs to use medications, such as OxyContin, only as a healthcare professional has directed. They should not take them more often or in higher quantities than doctors recommend. These medications have the potential to be habit-forming, so people should not take them over the long term.

This article discusses OxyContin as an opioid. It also explains the uses and side effects of the medication. Finally, it explores how OxyContin may be habit-forming and how to find help for opioid dependence.

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Opioids are a class of drugs encompassing both illegal and prescription medications. Illegal forms of opioids include heroin and fentanyl.

Prescription opioids include:

While opioids, such as OxyContin, are generally only available through prescription, people can find them illegally. However, it is important to only use opioids for their intended uses and only as a healthcare professional has directed.

OxyContin is a type of medication that people can use to help manage moderate to severe pain. A doctor may prescribe this medication for the following reasons:

  • after surgery
  • following a serious injury
  • to help manage pain from cancer
  • to help manage long-term pain that has not responded to other forms of treatment

OxyContin is available in various forms, including:

  • liquid
  • concentrated solution
  • tablets or capsules
  • extended-release tablets or capsules

A person typically takes liquid, concentrated solution, tablets, or capsules every 4 to 6 hours with or without food. This is generally either as necessary for pain or as a regularly scheduled medication. Individuals generally take extended-release tablets every 12 hours with or without food, while they can take extended-release capsules every 12 hours with food.

It is important to read prescription labels carefully and speak with a healthcare professional or pharmacist about any questions or concerns.

OxyContin can cause some side effects. Common side effects of OxyContin include:

Individuals need to speak with their healthcare professional if these symptoms worsen or do not go away.

OxyContin can also cause serious side effects. If a person experiences any of the following symptoms, they need to contact emergency services or a healthcare professional right away:

  • changes in heartbeat or chest pain
  • hallucinations
  • agitation
  • fever or shivers
  • sweating
  • confusion
  • muscle twitching or stiffness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness or dizziness
  • changes to menstrual cycle
  • decreased sexual desire
  • hives, itching, or rash
  • swelling anywhere on the body, including the face, throat, or hands
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Anyone who takes opioid medications, such as OxyContin, can develop a dependence on them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 1 in 4 people who have a long-term opioid prescription also experience opioid dependence.

Once someone becomes dependent on opioids, it can be difficult to stop taking them. More than 11.5 million people reported missing opioids in the United States in 2016.

Dependence on OxyContin can lead to overdose or taking too much at one time. Signs of overdose include:

In 2021, around 80,411 people died due to an overdose of opioids.

If an individual is experiencing a dependence on OxyContin or other opioids, it is important they seek help right away.

Learn more about the risks of opioid use.

If a person is experiencing dependence on opioids, such as OxyContin, there are various ways they can find support. They can reach out to their healthcare professional or a mental health professional.

Other ways they can find support include:

If an individual feels they may be in crisis and in need of immediate support, they can call or text 988 to speak with a trained counselor any time of day.

If someone is experiencing a medical emergency or signs of an overdose, they or someone near them must call 911 immediately.

Learn about opioid use disorder.

The following are some answers to common questions about OxyContin.

What level of narcotic is OxyContin?

Law enforcement agencies consider oxycodone products, such as OxyContin, Schedule II narcotics in the Controlled Substance Act.

Schedule II narcotics means that the substance has a high potential for misuse and can lead to physical or psychological dependence.

Why are opioids addictive?

Opioids bind to certain receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems in the body. This helps relieve pain, cough, and diarrhea. However, it also causes a sense of euphoria. This can lead to some people continuing to use these types of drugs to recreate that initial euphoric feeling.

OxyContin is a type of medication that falls into the category of opioids. People commonly use them to help treat pain, but doctors do not recommend them for long-term use. However, some may prescribe it to people for a longer term if other medications and treatments have been ineffective.

OxyContin can cause various side effects, some of which may be serious. It also has a high risk of causing a person to develop a dependence on it.

An individual may be able to reduce this risk by only taking OxyContin as a healthcare professional has directed. If they believe they are experiencing opioid dependence, they must seek help from a healthcare or mental health professional. They could also contact an organization specializing in supporting those with substance misuse.