Oxycodone is a highly-addictive opioid medication that is prescribed to relieve pain. Oxycodone overdoses can cause slow breathing, coma, or death.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone belongs to a class of prescription painkillers called opiate (narcotic) analgesics. It works by changing the way the brain and body responds to pain signals.
List of Medications That Contain Oxycodone
The FDA approved oxycodone in 1976 and it is sold in a variety of brand-name and generic medications. Oxycodone is sold alone (OxyContin®); in combination with acetaminophen (Oxycet, Percocet, Roxicet, Xartemis XR, and more); aspirin (Percodan); and ibuprofen.
What is the Problem?
Oxycodone may be habit-forming. Anyone who takes more of it, more often, or in a different way than specifically directed by a doctor, can become addicted to oxycodone. There is a greater risk of accidentally overdosing on oxycodone when it is combined with alcohol or other medications that slow down breathing and brain activity.
Oxycodone can cause serious or deadly breathing problems, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours of starting treatment with oxycodone, and any time the dose is increased. An overdose of oxycodone can cause a person to stop breathing and suffer death.
How Does Oxycodone Work?
Oxycodone is similar to morphine and other opiates. It does not cure pain, but decreases discomfort by increasing pain tolerance and producing feelings of well-being and pleasure. A person will eventually become dependent on oxycodone if they use it continuously. If they stop using oxycodone, they will experience symptoms of withdrawal.
Symptoms of a Oxycodone Overdose
- Slow, shallow breathing or stopped breathing
- Smaller pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Decreased urge to breathe
Oxycodone is one of the most popular opiate painkillers, with over 58 million prescriptions filled in 2013. When a person takes too much oxycodone for several days or weeks, they may experience cravings for the drug. Over time, oxycodone changes brain chemistry in a way the leads to addiction. People who are addicted to oxycodone are typically unable to stop using it without rehabilitation and withdrawal.