If you don’t know a lot about opioid painkillers, you may have heard the terms OxyContin and oxycodone and thought they were the same thing. In fact, these two drugs sound similar, but there are key differences you need to know. Keep reading for a complete overview on OxyContin vs oxycodone, including why these drugs aren’t interchangeable.
An Overview of OxyContin vs Oxycodone
People feel and experience pain differently. Two people could have the same injury but report different levels of pain. As a result, there are many kinds of pain medication. When prescribing painkillers for severe or chronic pain, the doctor will assess the patient to understand just how strong a drug they need.
At a quick overview, it’s important to understand the differences between oxycodone vs OxyContin. Essentially, both are versions of the same drug. The active ingredient in both drugs is oxycodone.
The main difference between OxyContin and oxycodone is that OxyContin is stronger because it lasts longer. Therefore, OxyContin is known as a “long-acting” or “extended-release” painkiller. Both are used to treat moderate to severe pain, but oxycodone is most commonly used for chronic severe pain.
Oxycodone (the immediate-release painkiller) is available as a generic drug under other names. Conversely, the long-acting OxyContin is only available under its brand name.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an orally available opioid painkiller that’s similar to morphine. This drug is most commonly used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain and has a high potential for becoming addictive. As a result, oxycodone is a DEA-controlled substance and should only be used when prescribed by a doctor.
Oxycodone is available in tablet, solution or capsule form. It offers quick-acting pain relief, with most people feeling the pill’s effects within 20-30 minutes. The pain relief can last between four and six hours. Oxycodone is available under other names, including OxyIR, OxyFast, Roxicodone, Oxaydo and generic oxycodone. Typically patients only take oxycodone on a short-term basis, usually for three days or less.
What Is OxyContin?
OxyContin is a long-lasting type of oxycodone. Patients only need to take this drug twice daily, and it will release oxycodone continuously throughout a 12-hour period. This slow release is achieved in the OxyContin tablet design. The first layer of the pill offers pain relief in the first 20 minutes, while the inner layers of the pill offer slow, continuous pain relief throughout the remaining 12 hours. OxyContin only comes in an extended-tablet release pill.
OxyContin is a stronger version of oxycodone and is only meant for severe and chronic pain. Patients who take OxyContin typically tried oxycodone and found it didn’t provide enough relief. Usually, OxyContin is given to people with severe pain associated with the last stages of conditions or diseases, such as terminal cancer.
As is the case with oxycodone, OxyContin can be addictive and should only be taken as prescribed.
Are They Interchangeable?
So now that you understand the differences between OxyContin vs oxycodone, you might be wondering if they’re interchangeable. The answer is absolutely not. Patients who take OxyContin need to make sure they only take the recommended dose, are careful with other medications and watch the time in between doses. In comparison, oxycodone is less potent, can be taken more frequently and can sometimes be taken with other medications.
Before prescribing you pain medication, your doctor will evaluate factors such as your current health condition, health history and current medications. Changing your medication without consulting a doctor could put your health at risk.
Some of the medications that shouldn’t be taken with OxyContin or oxycodone are:
- Other pain relief drugs
- Sleeping pills
- Skeletal muscle relaxers
- Some antibiotics, antifungal drugs, heart drugs, seizure drugs, HIV drugs and drugs for mental health disorders
Additionally, women who are pregnant and individuals with asthma should avoid both oxycodone and OxyContin.
Interchanging these two medications without doctor input simply isn’t necessary. First, almost no one will willingly go from OxyContin to oxycodone because the pain relief won’t be strong enough. In that case, the most likely situation is someone switching from oxycodone to the long-lasting OxyContin. However, if you’re in so much pain that oxycodone isn’t helping, all you have to do is speak to your doctor. Your doctor will consider switching you to OxyContin if they believe it’s necessary.
OxyContin Addiction in the United States
If you’re struggling with an OxyContin addiction, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone. The United States is dealing with an opioid epidemic that’s impacting hundreds of thousands of people. It’s estimated that between 21-29% of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them. Additionally, between 8-12% of people using opioids for chronic pain end up developing an opioid use disorder. An OxyContin addiction is not something to take lightly — it can lead to heroin use, severe health issues and even death.
The numbers tell a story: OxyContin is a highly addictive substance. And even though a doctor initially prescribes this drug, many patients don’t fully realize the addictive properties of OxyContin until it’s too late. It’s highly recommended that individuals struggling with OxyContin or oxycodone addiction seek professional help. A rehabilitation center can assist with the detox and withdrawal process and the journey to sobriety. You can choose between inpatient residential programs and outpatient treatment. The best choice is the program that fits your life and your needs.
Let FHE Health Help You
If you or someone you know is worried about their use of pain medications, there’s help available. You don’t have to live controlled by a substance any longer. The helpful, professional staff at FHE Health know how to help you make progress towards recovery. Whether it’s inpatient treatment or outpatient support groups, we can help connect you to the resources you need to start moving toward recovery. With decades of experience in addiction treatment, FHE Health can offer you a customized plan that fits your needs. Contact us today by calling (844) 299-0618.