What Makes Oxycodone Different from other Substances?

What Makes Oxycodone Different from other Substances?


Individuals struggling with drug abuse, addiction and recovery share many experiences even if they never used the same drugs. But, a drug’s chemical properties, along with its social and legal status, impact its risk of addiction and the ways it is abused. Oxycodone shares many properties with other opioids, but its strength and effects differentiate it from other drugs.

How Oxycodone Works

Although oxycodone was not created until 1916, it belongs to an ancient group of drugs called opioids. Chemicals from the poppy plant are used to relieve pain, but they also carry unpleasant side effects and a risk of addiction. Oxycodone and all opioids work by binding with opioid receptors in the brain, which changes the balance of neurotransmitters. The result of this change is reduced pain, but also feelings of euphoria if the dosage is high enough. Recreational oxycodone users are attracted to, and sometimes become addicted to, this euphoria.

Many drug addicts do not use just one drug or even one kind of drug. Someone who gets high with oxycodone may also use other opioids if the opportunity arises. Or, users may take stronger opioids to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Other kinds of drugs—such as marijuana, alcohol or tranquilizers—may also be used by oxycodone addicts to augment a high.

Oxycodone Abuse Effects

Oxycodone is about twice as strong as morphine, and it is about as effective when swallowed as it is when injected or snorted (however, oral ingestion makes the effects develop more slowly). A 2005 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Emergency Medicine found that hydrocodone and oxycodone were equally effective in controlling the pain from broken bones. However, as for getting high many recreational users can still describe differences between the drugs. Oxycodone produces a stronger feeling of euphoria for many users, but tingling and warmth throughout the body is a feeling associated with oxycodone. On the other hand, a hydrocodone high is felt more in the head than the body.

Barriers to Oxycodone Abuse

Oxycodone has been subject to the following policy changes aimed at reducing its abuse:

  • Control status – Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance. More loosely controlled opioids, like Schedule III hydrocodone, are often chosen over oxycodone out of convenience.
  • Formulation – Pills of oxycodone almost always include acetaminophen, which, although helpful for pain, makes a high dose of the pills, as one needed to get high, potentially poisonous.
  • Tamper resistance – Pills which use a crush-resistant polymer base are replacing conventional pills, so the newer pills cannot be pulverized. As a result, methods of removing acetaminophen or preparing the drug for snorting or injection are thwarted.

Despite these restrictions, oxycodone is still sought for recreational abuse, because of its appealing characteristics.

Oxycodone Addiction Help

If you or someone you know has developed an addiction to oxycodone, then call our 24 hour helpline to learn about treatment options. The call is toll free, so reach out right now for professional support.