A Guide to Oxycodone

By The Fix staff 08/02/14

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic (a painkiller) that is created by modifying the chemical thebaine that is found in opium. Prescription brand names for it are Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicodone, Endocet, Tylox, Oxyfast, Oxynorm, Percodan, Roxicet. Street names of the drug include: Oxy, O.C.'s, Roxies, Percs, 80s/greens, 40s/yellows, 20s/pinks or Hillbilly Heroin. Routes of administration include: oral, intramuscular, intravenous, inhalation, insufflation (blowing into a body cavity), subcutaneous, and rectal. 

Oxycodone is Intended for long-term relief of moderate to severe pain and is sometimes used to treat discomfort of cancer and arthritis. It is occasionally used to control withdrawal symptoms of heroin or morphine addiction. It is highly addictive.

How it affects the brain

Oxycodone's chemical structure is similar to codeine and almost as potent as morphine. It creates a euphoric rush by raising levels of dopamine. Considered an "opiate agonist" (meaning it binds to a receptor and causes a biological response in it), it effectively alters the perception of pain at the spinal cord and higher central nervous system levels, thus limiting emotional responses to pain. It also slows breathing via direct action on brain stem respiratory cells, making it easy to overdose on, and inhibits the cough reflex by affecting the cough center of the medulla. Other side effects include dizziness, nausea, headaches, seizures, increased pressure of spinal and cerebral fluid.

Addictive Properties

All opiods are highly addictive and oxycodone is no exception. Abusers early on learned that by crushing time-release capsules, the full dosage intended for a 12-hour period could be felt all at once. Oxycontin, the most widely recognized form of oxycodone, was so extensively abused that the FDA forced changes in its delivery form after evidence mounted that huge numbers of individuals for whom it was prescribed for pain relief became addicted while Oxy simultaneously became a drug of choice for many heroin addicts. The drug builds up in the user’s system, requiring a higher dosage each time to achieve the initial high experience.

Long term effects

These include physical and psychological dependence, liver/renal damage, increasing tolerance to dosages, nausea and constipation, and high potential for overdose.


Symptoms include extreme sleepiness (it will be nearly impossible to stay awake), breathing problems and extremely constricted pupils. Death from overdose is typically due to cardiac arrest or dramatically impaired breathing. 

Legal Status

Oxycodone is a Schedule II drug in the United States.








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