OxyContin vs Oxycodone: What’s the Difference?

Learn about the similarities and differences between OxyContin vs oxycodone.

OxyContin and oxycodone are two of the most commonly cited medications in opioid overdose deaths. But few people understand the differences between OxyContin vs oxycodone and wonder, are oxycodone and OxyContin the same thing? Here, we help you understand OxyContin vs oxycodone.

What Is the Drug in OxyContin and Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is the generic name for an opioid pain reliever that’s prescribed to treat pain that’s moderate to severe. It’s a semi-synthetic opioid, made from an opium alkaloid found in some varieties of the poppy plant. Oxycodone is one-and-a-half times stronger than morphine, and it’s available in a variety of formulas. For example, oxycodone mixed with aspirin is sold under the trade name Percodan, and oxycodone mixed with acetaminophen is sold under the brand name Percocet. By the same virtue, oxycodone that’s produced as an extended-release pain medication is sold under the trade name OxyContin.

So what is the drug in OxyContin? It’s oxycodone.

Similarities and Differences Between OxyContin vs Oxycodone

Are oxycodone and OxyContin the same thing? Almost, but not quite. They’re similar because they’re both different versions of the same drug.

The differences between OxyContin vs oxycodone include the fact that OxyContin is an extended-release drug, which means that it dissolves into your body more slowly, delivering up to 12 hours of effective pain relief. It also has higher concentrations of oxycodone than other drugs that contain oxycodone. Oxycodone, on the other hand, is an immediate-release drug that works to relieve pain for around four to six hours.

Because OxyContin is an extended-release drug, it’s often abused by crushing it up and snorting it, or dissolving it in water and injecting it. When this occurs, the full power of the drug is released all at once instead of over time. This dramatically increases the risk of overdose and death. In fact, OxyContin, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is one of the most commonly cited drugs in overdose deaths.

The Dangers of Oxycodone and OxyContin Abuse

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, abusing oxycodone and products containing it causes numerous emergency department visits every year.

In 2004, oxycodone-containing drugs were responsible for over 51,000 visits to the emergency department. By 2010, that number had increased to nearly 183,000 visits. As a result, increased restrictions were put on prescribing these medications, and new formulations of OxyContin and other oxycodone drugs made them more difficult to abuse. This led to a reduction in ER visits for 2011, when just over 175,000 people were admitted to the ER.

Treating Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Using opioid pain medications, including oxycodone and OxyContin, in a way other than as prescribed by your physician can lead to addiction, dependence, and devastating physical and mental illnesses down the road. If you abuse opioids and find you can’t stop even though you want to or try to, you may be addicted. And if withdrawal symptoms set in when you try to stop using, you may be dependent.

If a dependence has developed, treating an opioid addiction first requires medical detox or medication-assisted treatment. Medical detox involves letting all traces of opioids leave your body to break the physical dependence. Alternatively, medication-assisted treatment involves administering a less-psychoactive opioid medication that prevents withdrawal, blocks cravings, and helps to normalize brain function so that you can concentrate on recovering from the addiction.

Detox that’s not followed with addiction treatment leads to relapse for 91 percent of people who go to detox but don’t seek help for the addiction. Addiction is treated by addressing a range of underlying issues, helping individuals develop essential coping skills, and addressing any co-occurring mental illnesses. High quality, holistic drug treatment programs help individuals find purpose and meaning in a life without drugs as well as learn to relax and have fun without needing to be high.

Treatment works for most people who engage with their treatment plan, and it can help you end an opioid addiction for good while improving your overall wellbeing and quality of life.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.