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Oxycodone vs. OxyContin: Similarities, Differences & Dangers

Elena Hill, MD, MPH profile image
Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH • Updated Aug 14, 2023 • 7 cited sources

Oxycodone and OxyContin are the same drug. Oxycodone is the generic drug name Oxycontin is the brand-name.  According to US laws, generic versions of drugs have the same exact chemical content as the brand. Therefore, the chemical makeup of these two products is the same. They should therefore exert the same effects. 

Both Oxycodone and OxyContin share equal risk of overdose and withdrawal. 

What Are Oxycodone & OxyContin?

Oxycodone is a generic drug. OxyContin is a brand-name medication containing oxycodone. Both are opioids prescribed for pain. They have identical chemical makeup and (at equivalent doses) exert the exact same effects. 

Oxycodone has been used for pain for decades, but it became a mainstream solution when developers wrapped the drug in a time-release coating and sold it as OxyContin. Users quickly learned they could crush tablets and snort or inject the powder for a quick and powerful high.[1]

When officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed OxyContin, they found it wasn’t more efficacious than standard oxycodone. [2] But aggressive marketing techniques led to increased prescription of the brand version of the drug. 

By 2001, OxyContin was the most prescribed brand-name medication for moderate or severe pain.[3] 

Comparing the Dangers of Oxycodone vs. OxyContin

While oxycodone and OxyContin are the exact same, users often recognize the brand-name formulation. Some individuals feel that “brand name” medications are “better” or “stronger” or “safer”, although in theory they contain the exact same chemical structure as generic or non-brand medications and should therefore exert the exact same effects, brand or not. They also carry the same risks, including: 

Opioid Use Disorder

Oxycodone and oxycontin are both very addictive. Long term use of either of these formulations can lead to physical dependence, tolerance, and even an opioid use disorder. 


Oxycodone and Oxycontin also both carry risk of physical dependence and subsequent withdrawal. [6] Opioid withdrawal is often compared to a bad case of the flu. Symptoms include sweating, shakiness or tremulousness, anxiety, agitation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and nausea/vomiting. Both OxyContin and oxycodone come with equal risk of withdrawal symptoms. 


Oxycodone and OxyContin are central nervous system depressants that slow breathing and cardiovascular rates. Taking too much can lead to an overdose.In 2020, opioid overdose deaths rose 41% compared to the year prior.[7] Far too many people die due to misuse of both OxyContin and oxycodone. 

How MAT Helps

Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) programs have helped many people recover from opioid use disorders (OUDs) caused by OxyContin and oxycodone. 

Medications like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) latch to the same receptors used by opioids. They ease physical withdrawal symptoms and prevent long term cravings for opioids like oxycodone or oxycontin. 

These days, people struggling with misuse of either oxycodone or oxycontin can access MAT treatments via virtual telehealth. 

Telehealth allows you to join a MAT program virtually. This can be particularly important for individuals living in locations with few in-person providers, or for patients who prefer the anonymity of online or virtual visits. 

Bicycle Health is a leading provider of MAT programs conducted via telemedicine. Contact us to schedule an intake appointment and see if this treatment is right for you. A virtual approach to MAT is making treatment for OUD more accessible than ever before.

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where ... Read More

  1. OxyContin Fast Facts. National Drug Intelligence Center. Accessed April 2023.
  2. The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy. American Public Health Association. February 2009. Accessed April 2023.
  3. Prescription Drugs: OxyContin Abuse and Diversion and Efforts to Address the Problem. U.S Government Accountability Office. January 2004. Accessed April 2023.
  4. OxyContin Package Insert. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2007. Accessed April 2023.
  5. 'You Want a Description of Hell?' OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem. Los Angeles Times. May 2016. Accessed April 2023.
  6. Opioid Withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. January 2023. Accessed April 2023.
  7. Safety Topics: Drug Overdoses. National Safety Council. Accessed April 2023.
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