Differences Between Oxycodone and OxyContin: What to Know


Healthcare professionals commonly utilize opioid drugs to treat moderate to severe pain caused by serious conditions like cancer. Currently, two widely used, and unfortunately, sometimes abused opioid medications in America are Oxycodone and OxyContin.

If you have been prescribed one of these medications or have come across news articles about them, you may have a common question:

What are the differences between oxycodone and OxyContin?

Both oxycodone and OxyContin are highly effective pain relievers that are often prescribed when milder drugs fail to adequately control a patient’s pain. They both contain oxycodone as an active ingredient. However, there are variations between these medications, including the duration of their effects and the cost at the pharmacy.

Let’s explore the differences between oxycodone and OxyContin.

Duration of Effects

The most significant difference lies in the duration of action. Oxycodone is an immediate-release medication that takes effect within 10 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Its effects last an average of three to six hours, requiring more frequent dosages for around-the-clock pain relief.

In contrast, OxyContin is an extended-release medication that starts working within an hour after ingestion. It has a controlled release mechanism, slowly releasing oxycodone into the body over a span of 12 hours. As a result, fewer doses are needed throughout the day to manage pain.


OxyContin is a brand-name medication manufactured by Purdue Pharma since 1996. On the other hand, oxycodone is available in generic form produced by various manufacturers. Generic versions tend to be significantly less expensive than brand-name drugs, with savings of up to 79%. Therefore, the cost at the pharmacy for generic oxycodone is generally lower than that for brand-name OxyContin.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an immediate-release narcotic drug used to treat moderate to severe pain resulting from acute or chronic conditions. It is available in capsule and tablet forms.The immediate-release capsules are currently only available in a 5 mg dosage, with a half-life of approximately four hours. Immediate-release tablets come in strengths ranging from 5 mg to 30 mg.Oxycodone can have various side effects, including constipation, headache, itching, vomiting, and more. If you experience uncomfortable side effects, it is essential to consult with your physician before continuing the medication.

What is OxyContin

OxyContin is a controlled-release narcotic that slowly releases oxycodone into the bloodstream over an extended period. It is available in tablet form, with dosage strengths of 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, 80 mg, and 160 mg. The higher dosages should only be used in patients who have developed a high tolerance to opioids.Like oxycodone, OxyContin is prescribed for managing moderate to severe pain that persists over a long period. It is not typically used to treat pain immediately following surgery.Oxycodone and OxyContin can cause similar side effects, including constipation, dizziness, headache, and nausea. However, studies suggest that patients may tolerate OxyContin better than immediate-release pain medications like morphine and oxycodone.

Long-Term Effects, Dependence, and Addiction

Both oxycodone and OxyContin are classified as Schedule II controlled narcotics by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) due to their potential for physical or psychological dependence if abused.Misuse of these drugs, such as crushing and inhaling the powder or injecting them, can lead to severe health effects and even fatal consequences. Taking oxycodone and OxyContin can also result in long-term health issues, including pregnancy complications and serotonin syndrome. Substance use disorder, withdrawal symptoms, and overdose risks are also associated with these medications.If you suspect you have developed a substance use disorder or experience any severe side effects, seeking immediate help from a qualified recovery specialist is crucial.In conclusion, while oxycodone and OxyContin can effectively manage pain, they carry risks and potential for addiction. If you believe you may have a substance use disorder, it is vital to reach out to a helpline or recovery specialist to discuss treatment options and start the journey towards a healthier, opioid-free life.

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