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What is oxycodone?

Oxycodone hydrochloride belongs to a group of medicines called opioid analgesics. It is a depressant drug which means it slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Depressant drugs do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin.


Oxycodone is most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve moderate to severe pain. However, there is increasing concern among medical professionals about the risks of using these drugs, particularly when they are used for a long time. 


Types of oxycodone

Oxycodone comes in a number of forms including capsules, tablets, liquid and suppositories. It also comes in a variety of strengths.

Common oxycodone brand names

Oxynorm®, OxyContin®, Endone®, Proladone®, Targin®.


Slang names

Hillbilly heroin, oxy, OC and O.


How are they used?

Oxycodone is usually swallowed but is sometimes injected or used as a suppository. 

To prevent  OxyContin® tablets being injected by people who misuse them, they were reformulated in 2014. The tablets are now resistant to crushing and become a thick gel when added to water. They also have controlled release properties, even as a gel. Read more about this change in the DrugInfo Alert or on the ReGen website.


Effects of oxycodone

Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug and follow your doctor’s prescription. Contact your doctor if you are concerned about the side effects of oxycodone.

Oxycodone affects everyone differently, but the effects may include:

  • Pain relief

  • Dizziness or faintness

  • Tiredness

  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating

  • Euphoria or negative mood

  • Restlessness 

  • Blurred vision

  • Stiff muscles 

  • Constipation 

  • Dry mouth 

  • Stomach ache and nausea 

  • Difficulty urinating 

  • Slow pulse 

  • Excess sweating, flushing and itching 

  • Mild allergic rash or hives


If a large amount of oxycodone is taken, the following may be experienced:

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Small pupils 

  • Decreased awareness or responsiveness 

  • Extreme drowsiness and loss of consciousness 

  • No muscle tone or movement 

  • Slow or irregular heartbeat


Long-term effects

Regular use of oxycodone may cause:

  • Dental problems2

  • Swelling in the arms and legs

  • Mood swings

  • Reduced sex drive and decreased level of testosterone (males)  and menstrual problems  (females)

  • Needing to use more to get the same effect

  • Financial, work or social problems 


Using oxycodone with other drugs

The effects of taking oxycodone with other drugs can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:

Oxycodone + alcohol: increased confusion and clumsiness, and breathing difficulties.

Oxycodone + some antidepressants (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors - MAOIs): delirium, convulsions, respiratory failure, coma and death.(4)



Giving up oxycodone after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. This is why it’s important to seek advice from a health professional when planning to stop taking oxycodone, whether you have been taking it with a prescription or not.

Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and are different depending on the type of oxycodone taken. Symptoms usually last for approximately one week and can include:

  • Watering eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Uncontrollable yawning 

  • Difficulty sleeping and severe restlessness

  • Hot and cold flushes

  • Pains in muscles and joints

  • Muscle spasms and tremors

  • Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure 

  • Uncontrolled kicking movements


Information from














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