Oxycodone is a pain-reliever available by prescription for the management of moderate to severe pain, such as that experienced following injury or surgical procedures. PubMed Health explains that oxycodone is a type of drug called an opioid because it is made from natural precursors found in the opium poppy. It is sometimes combined with other non-opioid pain-relievers such as Tylenol.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The Schaffer Library of Drug Policy explains that the flower Papaver somniferous, or opium poppy, is the source for all drugs called opiates 1. The substances extracted from the plant to manufacture of opioid drugs include morphine, thebaine and codeine. Thebaine is the chemical precursor that is synthesized to create oxycodone hydrochloride, the active analgesic and, therefore, the possibly addictive agent in oxycodone.
How Oxycodone Works
Opiate Drug Strengths in Order
The text "Molecular Neuropharmacology" explains that oxycodone and related drugs work to relieve pain by targeting specific proteins on the surfaces of cells called receptors. There are three different receptors known to bind opiates: mu, kappa and delta. When an opiate drug communicates with a cell, it is able to change the way the cell communicates painful messages to the brain.
The text "Essential Psychopharmacology" explains that the opioid receptor that appears to be targeted the most by drugs like oxycodone is the mu receptor 3. This particular receptor is found on cells that are responsible for communicating messages of pain; it is also found on cells that are responsible for communicating reward. The rewarding feelings that oxycodone conveys to users reinforces the patient's impulse to continue taking the drug.
Opiate Drug Strengths in Order
A List of Prescription Pain Medications
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List of Opiate Prescriptions
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List of Pain Relievers by Strength
Toxicity and Berberine HCL Supplements
Alternatives for Oxycodone
- The Schaffer Library of Drug Policy: Opiates
- "Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (Second Edition)"; Eric J. Nestler et al.; 2009
- "Essential Psychopharmacology (Second Edition)"; Stephen M. Stahl; 2002
- Elliott JA, Smith HS. Handbook of Acute Pain Management. CRC Press; 2016.
- Purdue Pharma L.P. OxyContin (Oxycodone HCl Controlled-Release) Tablets [package insert]. Revised 2009.
- U. S. Food & Drug Administration. Drugs of Abuse Home Use Test. Updated September 27, 2018.
- Food and Drug Administration. Highlights of prescribing information: Xtampza ER. 2016.
- Food and Drug Administration. Package insert OxyconUtin (oxycodone HCI controlled-release) tablets. Updated September 7, 2007.
- Ordóñez gallego A, González barón M, Espinosa arranz E. Oxycodone: A pharmacological and clinical review. Clin Transl Oncol. 2007;9(5):298-307. doi:10.1007/s12094-007-0057-9
- Webster LR, Webster RM. Predicting aberrant behaviors in opioid-treated patients: Preliminary validation of the Opioid Risk Tool. Pain Med. 2005;6(6):432-42. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4637.2005.00072.x
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Drug abuse testing. Updated November 20, 2019.
- Blenheim Pharmacal, Inc. Oxycontin oxycodone hydrochloride tablet, film coated, extended release. Updated January 2010.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are prescription opioids?. Updated June 2019.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drugs of abuse home use test. Updated September 27, 2018.
Rhiannon Clouse has been writing professionally since 2009. She has published several health and science articles online as well as work focusing on pregnancy and fertility. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Master of Science in developmental neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin.