Oxycodone and OxyContin are both popular painkillers, and their similar composition and names may make it easy to mix up the two. Here’s what you need to know about both medications to ensure that you don’t make a possibly fatal mistake.

Oxycodone is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is the active ingredient in brand medication OxyContin, as well as the active ingredient in other pain medications such as Percocet, Percodan, and Tylox, Narconon.com reported. Because OxyContin contains oxycodone, in the pharmaceutical world, “oxycodone” is interchangeably used as a generic name for the brand OxyContin, but there are important differences between the two. Unlike oxycodone, OxyContin has a time-release mechanism that allows the drug to be released over a period of time in the body. As a result, patients often have to take less of the drug.

Both drugs work by altering your perception of and emotional response to pain by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. The most common results are pain relief and euphoria.

OxyContin has stronger effects because it contains a more pure concentration of oxycodone, and the formulation makes the drug highly addictive.

Those who abuse prescription drugs usually prefer OxyContin because it has a stronger dosage than oxycodone. In addition, those who abuse OxyContin will often tamper with or remove the time release by crushing, snorting, or diluting the pill in water in order to get a very strong amount of the medication right away.

Both drugs are addictive, but the effects of Oxycontin tend to be stronger without the user realizing it. As a result, the risks are also greater, and abusing Oxycontin is more likely to precipitate respiratory failure, especially when used with other drugs like alcohol.

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