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Oxycodone Patient Tips

How it works

Oxycodone is a morphine-like, strong pain-relief medicine used for the relief of severe pain that is unresponsive to less potent pain-relief medicines.


  • Effective against moderate to severe pain, including cancer-related pain.
  • Longer-lasting (extended-release) tablets available; also available in combination with acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin for added pain control.
  • Less likely to cause an itchy rash compared to other opioid-like substances (e.g. morphine).
  • Abuse-deterrent form available (OxyContin).


If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Sedation can impair reaction skills and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcohol as the combination can lead to dangerous or fatal side effects.
  • Other common side effects include constipation, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.
  • May be habit-forming, even at regular doses.
  • Can lead to or worsen breathing (respiratory depression). Do not crush or chew the extended-release medicine as this could release a fatal dose of medicine.
  • Not for use in patients with severe asthma or other breathing problems, or a blockage in the stomach or intestines.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Oxycodone is a potent pain-relieving medicine; however, use is limited by its potential for addiction and side effects such as respiratory depression and constipation.


  • Absorption or effect not influenced by food.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (muscle and bone pain, diarrhea, insomnia, vomiting) may occur if long-term oxycodone is stopped abruptly; discontinue slowly on a doctor's advice.
  • Avoid alcohol while taking this medicine; fatal breathing problems may occur.
  • Longer acting formulations should not be cut, chewed or crushed.
  • Do not use during pregnancy and breastfeeding unless specifically recommended by your doctor.
  • Constipation may be treated with laxatives; nausea and vomiting may be treated with antiemetics.
  • May lower blood pressure on standing; take your time when going from a lying down to a standing up position.
  • Avoid grapefruit juice and grapefruit products and seville oranges (used to make orange marmalade) and tangelos (a tangerine-grapefruit cross) due to possible food-drug interactions.
  • If you take oxycodone extended-release tablets, swallow them whole. Do not chew, break, divide, crush, or dissolve the tablets.
  • Need for continued treatment should be assessed at regular intervals.
  • Keep this medicine out of the reach of children and pets; accidental ingestion of even one dose of OxyContin (extended-release oxycodone), especially by children, can result in a fatal overdose of oxycodone.

Response and Effectiveness

  • For immediate-release formulation, peak concentrations reached in 1-2 hours and duration of effect lasts for 3-4 hours. Effects may vary individually.
  • Longer-acting formulations should not be initiated without a trial of shorter-acting formulations first.


Oxycodone tablets [package insert]. Revised 10/2015.Epic Pharma, LLC. Accessed 02/2016 Nieminen TH, Hagelberg NM, Saari TI, et al. Grapefruit juice enhances the exposure to oral oxycodone. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2010 Oct;107(4):782-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2010.00582.x.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Oxycodone only for the indication prescribed.

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Revision Date: 2015-12-16 23:05:18