Prescription painkillers like OxyContin and oxycodone are highly addictive. But are oxycodone and OxyContin the same thing? What is the drug in OxyContin? Here are some answers to help you understand the difference between OxyContin and oxycodone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of opioid painkillers prescribed by doctors in the U.S. quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, even though there wasn’t a change in the amount of pain suffered by Americans. Prescription opioid overdose deaths also quadrupled, with more than 15,000 overdose deaths in 2010 attributed to prescription pain medications.
Two of the most commonly abused prescription opioids include OxyContin and oxycodone. Because their names are so similar, many people wonder, are oxycodone and OxyContin the same thing? The fact is that while these drugs are similar, there is a distinct difference between OxyContin and oxycodone.
What is the Difference Between OxyContin and Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is the generic name for an opioid pain medication that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. Around 1.5 times more potent than morphine, oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid mediction that’s synthesized from an opioid alkaloid found in the Persian poppy plant.
Oxycodone is available in a variety of formulations. When immediate-release oxycodone is combined with acetaminophen, the result is the drug known as Percocet, among other trade names. When it’s combined with aspirin, it’s known as Percodan. So, what is the drug in OxyContin? It’s also oxycodone.
OxyContin is a brand name of an extended-release version of oxycodone. While immediate-release formulations of oxycodone work for around four to six hours, OxyContin will relieve pain for around 12 hours. This means that someone who is prescribed OxyContin doesn’t have to take it as often as someone who is prescribed other, immediate-release versions of oxycodone.
How Are OxyContin and Oxycodone Similar and Different?
OxyContin and oxycodone are similar in that they’re both versions of the same drug. One main difference between OxyContin and oxycodone is that OxyContin typically contains higher concentrations of oxycodone than other oxycodone-containing drugs like Percocet and Percodan and therefore may pose a higher overdose risk.
Unfortunately, OxyContin is a highly abused opiate painkiller due to its high potency. Since it’s an extended-release version of oxycodone, OxyContin pills are commonly crushed and snorted or dissolved in liquid and injected to bypass the extended-release safeguard. This dramatically increases the risk of overdose, and in fact, OxyContin is one of the most commonly cited drugs in fatal overdoses.
Drugs containing oxycodone are commonly involved in emergency room visits. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, products containing oxycodone were cited in 51,418 emergency department visits in 2004. By 2010, that number had jumped to 182,748 visits. Increased restrictions on prescribing oxycodone, as well as new formulations of OxyContin that help prevent abuse, led to a reduction of ER visits in 2011, when 175,229 people went to the emergency room after abusing oxycodone.
Getting Help for Oxycodone Abuse or Addiction
All told, there’s not a huge difference between OxyContin and oxycodone and the many other opioid medications on the market today. They’re all highly addictive, and they’re all terribly dangerous when not taken as prescribed. If you abuse oxycodone or another opioid painkiller–that is, you use it in a way other than as prescribed by your physician–your risk of overdose increases dramatically, as does your risk of developing an addiction to the drug.
If you abuse any opioid medication and can’t seem to stop even though you want to or have tried to, treatment can help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that recovering from an opioid addiction almost always requires professional treatment. Treatment helps countless individuals end an addiction for the long-term by addressing the complex issues that led to the abuse and addiction and helping them develop the skills they need to prevent a relapse.
Treatment can help you not only end the addiction, but also improve your life on many fronts for a better quality of life, a greater sense of purpose, and a higher level of wellbeing.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.