Oxycodone is in an opiate class of medications used to treat moderate to severe pain, according to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Oxycodone is also popular among prescription drug abusers. According to research conducted by Sandra Comer published in “Drug and Alcohol Dependence” in 2010, non-abusers self-administer active doses of oxycodone only when they are in pain, whereas abusers self-administer oxycodone regardless of their pain condition. The effects of oxycodone vary by dose.
According to MedlinePlus, oxycodone is available in tablet, extended-release tablet, capsule and liquid concentrate solution. The drug is taken orally with or without food every four to six hours, and the extended-release tablets are taken every 12 hours.
Oxycodone is available in doses that range from 10 mg to 160 mg. For example, oxycontin, a brand-name prescription drug containing oxycodone, comes in controlled-release tablets of 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg and 180 mg for oral administration. According to both MedlinePlus and the product label for oxycontin, oxycodone in a single dose above 40 mg or a total daily dose above 80 mg are only for opioid-tolerant patients, since these high dosage levels of oxycodone can cause breathing difficulties and fatal respiratory depression in those patients not tolerant to the sedating effects of narcotics. Moreover, 160 mg tablets are not available in the United States.
Doses in Treatment
Research by H. Gaskell published in “Cochrane Database System Review” in 2009 found that oxycodone is effective in treating postoperative pain in doses over 5 mg, and that efficacy increases when combined with another analgesic. Research published in the “Journal of Pain Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy” in 2006 discovered that high-dose controlled-release oxycodone is safe and effective for management of terminal cancer pain; the mean daily dose of oxycodone was 79 mg per day for all patients, and a mean daily dose of 231 mg per day for almost 20 percent of patients.
Oxycodone should be taken exactly as physician directed. Oxycodone should not be taken to treat occasional episodes of pain or on an as-needed basis, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Oxycodone extended-release tablets should be consumed whole and not broken, crushed, cut or chewed because the drug could become absorbed into the body too fast and cause an overdose or death.
Oxycodone can be addictive, particularly after several weeks of use at higher doses, according to AddictionSearch.com. Oxycodone, considered a class II narcotic, is among the leading prescription drugs that are abused, and it is a popular drug on the black market, selling from $25 to $50 for a 50 mg tablet.