Tag Archives: oxycodone

Oxycodone vs Percocet

Oxycodone and Percocet are two of the most common prescription opioid painkillers on the market. While they are not necessarily synonymous, they are closely related. 

Oxycodone is a generic name for an opioid drug that appears under various brand names (e.g. OxyContin). Percocet is a brand name for a drug made up of a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is most often recognized by the brand name Tylenol. 

Both drugs have legal and medical application as pain relievers. However, easy access and cheap (illegal) production combined with their high addictive potential make both Percocet and oxycodone a common culprit in substance abuse cases. 

Oxycodone and Percocet – or “percs,” as the pills are sometimes called – overlap in some areas, but the chemical make-up and symptoms of each make their applications slightly different.  

Chemical Overview of Oxycodone vs Percocet

Both Percocet and oxycodone bind to opioid receptors in the brain. This attachment affects the central nervous system (CNS), essentially blocking pain. 

You may have heard the terms “opiate” and “opioid” used interchangeably. The distinction isn’t always important, but it’s worth noting that “opiates” refer to natural opioids such as heroin, morphine and codeine, while “opioids” refer to all natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opioids.

Opioids cause certain receptors to activate artificially, leading to the pain-numbing effect that opioids are recognized and used for.

Chemistry In the Brain

The end result of almost any opioid is the same: pain suppression.

One specific kind of receptor in the brain, when activated, produces the effects that opioids are known for: the mu opioid peptide receptor (MOP), in its natural state, functions to manage the body’s response to pain.  

Opioids cause the MOP receptors to activate artificially in order to achieve the pain-numbing effect that opioids are prescribed for.

Half Life of Oxycodone vs Percocet

The half life of an opioid refers to the amount of time it takes for an average patient’s body to eliminate half of a dose. If the dose size is 20mg and the half life of the opioid is 5 hours, then there will be around 10mg of the substance in the patient’s system after 5 hours. 

The half life of opioids varies largely from one drug to the next. Length of time for an opioid half-life can be anywhere from 40 minutes to two and a half days. 

Oxycodone can take effect as quickly as one hour after dosage, and reduces by half in about 4 hours. During this time, it binds to MOP receptors and numbs the sensation of pain by reducing communication between cells.

Whether a pain relieving drug is “short-acting” vs “long-acting” and how it is administered are two of the main factors that determine how long opioids remain in a person’s system. 

Abuse Potential

In addition to pain relief, users often describe experiencing a sense of “euphoria” as a side effect of taking opioids. 

This “numbing” or “carefree” feeling often motivates individuals to take oxycodone long after the pain that warranted the prescription is gone

Compared to other euphoria-producing substances, oxycodone and Percocet are both less expensive and relatively easy to obtain. Since the body can build a tolerance to opioids quickly, people also may want to continue taking them to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. 

If a person is experiencing withdrawals, this is a sign that the body has begun to form chemical dependence upon opioids. Dependence forms even more quickly in individuals who abuse opioids, increasing the severity of withdrawals, and the likelihood they will slip into a full-blown addiction. 

Oxycodone vs Percocet Applications 

Doctors prescribe oxycodone most frequently in cases of ongoing moderate-to-severe pain, such as pain associated with cancer.

Percocet can also address this type of pain, but has the added benefit of treating conditions associated with fever. It can also be used to treat intense, flaring pain from a chronic condition when a long-acting pain drug doesn’t provide enough relief.

Oxycodone is not particularly strong when compared to the general scale of opioid strength, but is still a potent painkiller.

Oxycodone vs Percocet Side Effects

Dizziness and feelings of euphoria are more closely associated with oxycodone than with Percocet. Both drugs, however, share most of their side effects in common, such as:

  • feeling relaxed and calm
  • unusual drowsiness or sleepiness
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • motor skill impairment

Serious, but less common side effects include:

  • painful urination
  • vomiting blood
  • skin rash
  • itching
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills

Because of the presence of acetaminophen, Percocet can cause side effects such as upper abdominal pain, black or tarry stools, and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Additionally, long-term use of Percocet is not recommended both due to the possibility of opioid addiction as well as liver damage from the acetaminophen. 

Breaking Oxycodone and Percocet Addiction

Unfortunately, even prescriptions like oxycodone and Percocet come with a risk of abuse. If you find you require the use of opioids to treat pain, it is important to communicate with your doctor about how to properly take it to avoid addiction. 

If you find you or a loved one already exhibits signs of a chemical dependency, there is still hope. Addiction doesn’t have to take over their life. Contact us today to find out how we can help you re-learn to live life free from substance abuse.

Oxycodone and Alcohol

Prescribed primarily as a sedating painkiller, oxycodone falls into the drug classification of “opioid”. It is, however, unique within this classification due to its partially natural and partially synthetic production.

Oxycodone is the generic term for the substance that appears under brand names such as Oxycontin, Oxaydo, and Roxicodone/Roxycodone. As with all polysubstance abuse combinations, this drug interacts poorly if combined with alcohol.

How Does Oxycodone Work?

Before understanding how oxycodone and alcohol interact, it can be helpful to get a sense of the opioid’s action in the brain. Knowing how substances affect the brain and recognizing similar substances can reduce the number of accidental interactions.

Like most all opioids, oxycodone affects the brain’s pain-sensing pathways. Specifically, it effects the brain’s receptors, decreasing neuron excitability, and reducing communication between brain cells.

In doing so, the substance decreases neuron excitability, and reduces communication between brain cells.

In terms of potency, oxycodone parallels the strength of morphine–another opioid. 

Oxycodone has, however, been found to be less toxic in the long-term than morphine. For patients suffering from moderate-to-severe pain, therefore, oxycodone can be an excellent help for managing it. 

Unfortunately, ease of access to oxycodone means individuals often abuse this opioid. Substance abuse almost always naturally progresses to dependence, creating a heightened tolerance to the drug that leads to addiction.

Consequences of Oxycodone Misuse

While opioids can be a literal life-saver in the medical field, they can also be life-threatening when misused. The likelihood of discomfort, pain, or even death increases in the case that a user ingest incompatible substances at the same time. 

Individuals who misuse opioids may experience some unpleasant symptoms, and might also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop. Even with prescribed use, the symptoms of oxycodone generally include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Pain Relief
  • Slowed Breathing

Some kinds of oxycodone leave the user with liver damage after an extended use time. Habitually taking too much oxycodone can cause a tolerance to form, where the user must then progressively ingest more of the substance in order to experience its effects. 

This increased dose-size can put them at risk of an overdose, which exhibits symptoms such as:

  • Extreme Sleepiness
  • Light Breathing
  • Cold or Clammy Skin
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Coma
  • Death

If you think a loved one is experiencing an overdose, call emergency services immediately.

oxycodone overdose symptoms

Opioids and Ethanol – A Deadly Pair

The effects of oxycodone are remarkably similar to those of most sedatives: pain-killing and drowsiness are common effects of such substances. While these can be helpful when applied to individuals suffering from pain or other conditions, abuse of the prescriptions for the effects can lead to devastating outcomes.

Unfortunately, one of the most widely used and abused substances is also one that reacts dangerously with oxycodone: alcohol.

As a sedative, the symptoms of alcohol use commonly include drowsiness, unconsciousness, muddy thoughts, or slow speech. If these effects pair with oxycodone’s sedative-like effects, the symptoms can result in dangerously slowed body processes.

oxycodone and alcohol can dangerously slow body processes

Combined, these substances often produce effects similar to a life-threatening overdose. While many believe they understand the risk and take adequate lengths to avoid combining substances, alcohol’s tendency to impair the decision-making process can lead to accidental mixing.

Other Dangerous Interactions

Alcohol is likely the most common substance mixed in the body with oxycodone. However, other interactions can also be dangerous for an individual on a prescription or suffering from an addiction.

One other commonly used substance–marijuana–can be dangerous to combine with oxycodone. Studies examining the combination in the human body found that individuals experienced a compounded pain-killing effect. 

This effect is markedly less dangerous than alcohol and oxycodone, but the dual-enhanced sedative effect of the two may amount to a dangerous dosage size. 

A similar situation arises if oxycodone and stimulants are combined. Stimulants, like amphetamines (e.g. Adderall, Concerta, etc.) are substances that increase energy or activity processes in the body. Taking the two drugs together enhances the painkilling effects of the opioid, and the individual may end up taking too much of either.

Most of the time, combining any prescription with another–or even with an OTC medication–results in a dangerous combination. In the case of mixing oxycodone and alcohol together, the combination can be fatal.

Finding Freedom from Polysubstance Abuse

Opioid misuse can be a dangerous road, and combinations with other substances can yield unpredictable, often dangerous, effects. If you think a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, contact us today. 

Connecting to knowledgeable resources can help you make a decision about where to go from here. Understanding the options is a crucial first step in helping a loved one overcome a substance abuse disorder.