Learn / What Does OxyContin Look Like?

What Does OxyContin Look Like?

Hannah Friedman
 June 1st, 2023|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Rajnandini Rathod

Key Points

  • OxyContin tablets come in different colors shapes depending on their strength.
  • This strong prescription painkiller can be dangerous if taken improperly.
  • Knowing the difference can help you avoid taking the wrong dosage.

If you’re worried about opioid addiction, it can be helpful to know what OxyContin looks like. This brand of prescription painkillers can be dangerous if you take them improperly. It’s easy to identify OxyContin tablets because they’re all imprinted with either “OC” or “OP.” However, the 7 doses of OxyContin all look a little different from each other. 

The answer to what OxyContin pills look like1 will depend on how strong the dose is. 

10 mg Pill

  • Color: White
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP on one side; 10 on the other side

15 mg Pill

  • Color: Gray
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP; 15

20 mg Pill

  • Color: Light pink
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP; 20

30 mg Pill

  • Color: Brown
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP; 30

40 mg Pill

  • Color: Yellow
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OP or OC; 40

60 mg Pill

  • Color: Red
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP; 60

80 mg Pill

  • Color: Green
  • Shape: Round
  • Imprint: OC or OP; 80

What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, a type of opioid. By definition, all opioids are narcotic painkillers.2 What sets OxyContin apart from similar drugs—like morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone—is its extended release.3 When you take OxyContin, the tablets dissolve slowly and release oxycodone at a steady rate for up to 12 hours. 

What Is OxyContin Used For?

Doctors prescribe OxyContin to treat moderate to severe pain. Because it lasts longer than other pain medications, most people take OxyContin for conditions that require consistent relief over a long period of time. This includes pain resulting from arthritis, serious injuries, cancer, and other conditions. 

Is OxyContin Addictive?

OxyContin has been a subject of concern due to its addictive potential. Initially introduced in 1996, it was marketed as an effective prescription painkiller with a low risk for misuse.4 However, within a few years, the landscape changed dramatically. By 2004, OxyContin had become one of the most widely misused drugs in the United States. 

Despite its intended purpose for chronic pain relief, when people take OxyContin for chronic pain they can quickly become dependent on the drug. Physical dependence isn’t the same as addiction5—it just means your body now relies on certain doses to find relief. Addiction, on the other hand, occurs when you’re no longer able to control behaviors that negatively affect your life. If taking increased amounts of OxyContin is the only way you can get pain relief, your risk of addiction increases. 

It’s important to recognize OxyContin’s addictive potential and use caution when taking this medication. If you have concerns about your OxyContin use or think you may be developing an addiction, consult a healthcare professional for appropriate guidance and support.

OxyContin Prescription Use vs. Misuse

OxyContin, like other prescription medications, has legitimate uses but also carries a risk of misuse. 

Prescription use of OxyContin is when patients who have a legitimate medical need for pain management take the drug under the guidance of a healthcare professional. When used as prescribed, OxyContin can provide relief and improve the quality of life for people with chronic pain.

However, misuse occurs when you use OxyContin in a way that doesn’t follow your doctor’s instructions.6 This can include taking higher doses than recommended, using the medication more frequently than prescribed, or using it without a valid medical reason. Misuse of OxyContin significantly increases the risk of adverse effects, dependency, and addiction.

The line between prescription use and misuse can sometimes become blurred. Some people may initially receive OxyContin for a legitimate medical purpose but gradually veer into misuse because of increased tolerance, desperation for pain relief, or other factors. It’s essential to use OxyContin strictly as directed by a healthcare professional and to promptly communicate any concerns or changes in pain management needs so they can adjust your prescription safely and appropriately.

What Are the Street Names for OxyContin?

OxyContin goes by a variety of street names:7

  • O.C. 
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Oxy
  • Oxycet
  • Oxycotton

Explore Opioids Treatment Centers

How Is OxyContin Abused?

People with opioid addiction may want to bypass OxyContin’s extended release8 by snorting or injecting it. This is extremely unsafe, because then you can’t predict how strong the dose will be, or how quickly it will take effect. 

When you snort OxyContin, it’s absorbed by the membranes of your nostrils. It goes directly into your bloodstream instead of first traveling through your digestive tract. If you inject the drug, it bypasses even your nostrils, so your body absorbs OxyContin even faster.9 This brings on a more intense euphoria. Injecting drugs also puts you at risk of diseases10 like HIV and hepatitis. 

Can You Overdose on Oxycontin?

OxyContin is a potent opioid and can cause overdose if used improperly or in excessive amounts. The specific dosage required to overdose on OxyContin can vary depending on factors such as your tolerance, body weight, and overall health. That’s why it’s crucial to adhere to the prescribed dosage and consult a healthcare professional for guidance throughout the course of OxyContin use.

Overdosing on OxyContin can have severe consequences and may even be life-threatening. Some common symptoms of an OxyContin overdose11 include:

  • Extreme drowsiness or sedation
  • Slow, shallow, or difficult breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Weakness or limpness
  • Slurred speech
  • Bluish tint to lips or fingertips

Overdosing can cause seizures,12 brain damage, heart attack, and respiratory depression—slowed breathing that can become fatal.

If you or your loved one shows signs of an OxyContin overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Risks of overdose increase when you combine OxyContin with other substances like alcohol or other opioids.

What Are the Risks of OxyContin Use?

OxyContin is a powerful opioid. The U.S. opioid crisis13 started in the 1990s and is still a major problem. As doctors overprescribe opioids like OxyContin, more people are at risk of addiction, overdose, and turning to even more potent street drugs. 

Physical Risks

Like any opioid, OxyContin depresses your nervous system.14 In other words, it slows down communication between your brain and body. Your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure all go down. This can cause you to stop breathing, go into shock, or even die. 

Abusing OxyContin also puts you at risk of injuring yourself or someone else.15 That’s because opioids can make you dizzy, confused, or poorly coordinated. Data shows an alarming rise in elderly people injuring themselves16 from falls while using prescription opioids. 

Psychological Risks

Over time, opioid use alters your brain’s reward system.17 You might begin to feel normal when OxyContin is in your system, and abnormal when it’s not. OxyContin also impacts your mental health. People who use opioids have higher rates of anxiety,18 irritability, lack of motivation, and depression

From Prescription to Street Drugs

If you first start taking OxyContin to manage chronic pain, it can become hard to function without it. Over time, you might need higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effect.19 This is a dangerous pattern, and it can quickly lead to addiction. 

If you can’t get a high enough dose of OxyContin from a prescription, you might look for other sources. When it’s sold illegally, OxyContin can be very expensive. But more affordable opioids, like heroin,20 are often impure and even more addictive. 

Following your doctor’s instructions, and bringing up any challenges you’re experiencing with your prescription, can avoid escalating OxyContin use. You can also ask your doctor about non-opioid-based pain management.

Find Treatment Options for OxyContin Addiction

When you’re ready to heal from OxyContin addiction, it’s important to get professional support. OxyContin withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous—and even fatal. The only safe way to detox from opioids is with proper medical care.

To start recovery from OxyContin, learn more about opioid addiction treatment programs here.

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