info on alcohol test strip info on amphetamines info on barbiturates info on buprenorphine info on benzodiazepines info on cocaine info on cotinine info on eddp info on fentanyl info on k2-spice info on ketamine info on mdma-ecstasy info on methamphetamines info on methadone info on opiates info on oxycodone info on phencyclidine info on propoxyphene info on tricyclic anti-depressants info on thc-marijuana info on tramadol

Oxycodone

OxyContin® is a prescription painkiller used for moderate to high pain relief associated with injuries, bursitis, dislocations, fractures, neuralgia, arthritis, lower back pain, and pain associated with cancer.1 OxyContin® contains oxycodone, the medication’s active ingredient, in a timed-release tablet. Oxycodone products have been illicitly abused for the past 30 years.2

Oxycodone is a Schedule II narcotic analgesic and is widely used in clinical medicine. It is marketed either alone as controlled release (OxyContin®) and immediate release formulations (OxyIR®, OxyFast®), or in combination with other nonnarcotic analgesics such as aspirin (Percodan®) or acetaminophen (Percocet®). The introduction in 1996 of OxyContin®, commonly known on the street as OC, OX, Oxy, Oxycotton, Hillbilly heroin, and kicker, led to a marked escalation of its abuse as reported by drug abuse treatment centers, law enforcement personnel, and health care professionals. Although the diversion and abuse of OxyContin® appeared initially in the eastern US, it has now spread to the western US including Alaska and Hawaii. Oxycodone-related adverse health effects increased markedly in recent years. In 2004, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for marketing generic forms of controlled release oxycodone products.3

Control Status

Oxycodone products are in Schedule II of the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970.4

Street Names

Kicker, OC, Oxy, OX, Blue, Oxycotton, Hillbilly Heroin

Short-term Effects

Pharmacological effects include analgesia, sedation, euphoria, feelings of relaxation, respiratory depression, constipation, papillary constriction, and cough suppression. A 10 mg dose of orally-administered oxycodone is equivalent to a 10 mg dose of subcutaneously administered morphine as an analgesic in a normal population. Oxycodone’s behavioral effects can last up to 5 hours. The drug is most often administered orally. The controlled-release product, OxyContin®, has a longer duration of action (8-12 hours).5

The most serious risk associated with opioids, including OxyContin®, is respiratory depression. Common opioid side effects are constipation, nausea, sedation, dizziness, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, sweating, and weakness. Taking a large single dose of an opioid could cause severe respiratory depression that can lead to death.6

Long-term Effects

As with most opiates, oxycodone abuse may lead to dependence and tolerance. Acute overdose of oxycodone can produce severe respiratory depression, skeletal muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin, reduction in blood pressure and heart rate, coma, respiratory arrest, and death.7

Chronic use of opioids can result in tolerance for the drugs, which means that users must take higher doses to achieve the same initial effects. Long-term use also can lead to physical dependence and addiction — the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. Properly managed medical use of pain relievers is safe and rarely causes clinical addiction, defined as compulsive, often uncontrollable use of drugs. Taken exactly as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain effectively.8

1. National Drug Intelligence Center, Information Bulletin: OxyContin® Diversion and Abuse, January 2001
2. Drug Enforcement Administration, Congressional Testimony, Statement by Terrance W. Woodworth, Deputy Director, Officer of Diversion Control, Before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, August 28, 2001
3. DEA Office of Diversion Control, Oxycodone
4-5. Ibid.
6. Partnership for a Drug-Free America
7. DEA Office of Diversion Control, Oxycodone
8. Partnership for a Drug-Free America