Difference between Oxycodone and Oxycontin

Updated on February 15, 2018

A simple headache can be cured by an over-the-counter aspirin. However, for chronic and recurring pain, doctors may prescribe OxyContin or Oxycodone depending on the circumstances. This article aims to highlight the major differences between the two.



Oxycodone is a semisynthetic opioid derived from thebaine, a chemical compound that comes from the opium poppy. In addition to being present in several prescription medications, oxycodone is administered to individuals suffering from moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone medications are typically quick-acting pain killers taken every four to six hours. It is an active component of many branded prescription painkillers (e.g. Percodan, Percocet, Tylox).

Developed in Germany in 1917, oxycodone was an attempt to improve on existing opioid derivatives.

Oxycodone works by altering the way the brain responds to pain. This opioid painkiller is a prescription drug currently classified as a Schedule II drug by the US FDA. This means that although it has a currently accepted medical use, oxycodone is highly addictive and it may create a physical or psychological dependence.

In addition to pain relief, following the prescribed usage of oxycodone can produce short-term effects such as extreme relaxation, euphoria, and reduced anxiety. However, this drug can lead to adverse side effects which include vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, mood swings, constipation, stomach pains, and more. Oxycodone can also cause serious side effects that may require immediate medical attention. These include chest pain, irregular heart rate, rashes, seizures, and difficulty in breathing.


OxyContin is a brand name for an opioid-based medication that is administered to manage prolonged moderate to severe pain. It is prescribed to patients who require 24-hour pain relief. As the potency of OxyContin lasts for longer periods, it is not prescribed on an “as-needed” basis for pain treatment. Moreover, an OxyContin tablet is taken whole and is not to be crushed or chewed to prevent the release of a potentially lethal dose.

OxyContin has been found to cause common side effects such as a headache, drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, mild itching, a dry mouth, and more. This opioid analgesic may induce various serious symptoms such as arrhythmia, hallucinations, muscle stiffness, and agitation. Immediate medical attention is required should these symptoms appear.

Chronic use of OxyContin can lead to increased tolerance as higher doses of the drug is required to achieve the initial effect. OxyContin becomes highly addictive with continuous use. Thus, withdrawal symptoms may appear once the intake of the drug has stopped. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, cold flashes, bone and muscle pains, goose bumps, and more.

Oxycodone vs OxyContin

So what’s the difference between oxycodone and OxyContin? Oxycodone is a fast-acting opioid painkiller found in numerous prescription drugs. It stays in effect for a maximum of 6 hours. OxyContin, on the other hand, is pure oxycodone, administered to individuals suffering from prolonged moderate to severe pain. It is prepared as a time release medication, which means it is gradually released into the blood. Due to this long-lasting effect, OxyContin is administered every twelve hours.

Comparison Chart

Active ingredient in many opioid-based painkillersContains more oxycodone compared to other opioid-based painkillers
Quick-acting effectSustained effect
Administered every four to six hoursAdministered every twelve hours
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