Oxycodone is used for pain relief. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Oxycodone is also called Oxynorm, Oxycontin or Oxydone.
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What is oxycodone?
Oxycodone is used for the relief of moderate to severe pain such as after an injury, or operation or pain caused by a terminal illness such as cancer. It is usually used when other milder painkillers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) don’t work well enough.
- Oxycodone belongs to a group of medicines called opioid painkillers. They act on your brain and nervous system to reduce pain.
- Other pain relievers such as paracetamol and NSAIDs (ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen) may also be used with oxycodone.
- Oxycodone is not very effective for nerve pain.
- In New Zealand, oxycodone is available as capsules, tablets and in a liquid form.
- Read more about pain, pain-relief medication, opioid painkillers.
- The dose of oxycodone will be different for different people.
- Always take your oxycodone exactly as your doctor has told you. Depending on the reason you are taking it, your doctor may advise that you take regular doses or take oxycodone only when you need it for pain relief. Make sure you know which is right for you.
- The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much oxycodone to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.
My dose is:
How to take oxycodone
- You can take oxycodone with or without food.
- Oxycodone is available as tablets and capsules. There are also oral liquid and injections but these are mostly used in hospital.
- Some types of oxycodone are short-acting or immediate release and others are long-acting or slow release. Ask your pharmacist if you are not sure about the type you are taking.
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- Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking oxycodone. Taking oxycodone with alcohol can make you more sleepy, drowsy or dizzy.
- If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the amount.
Precautions before starting oxycodone
- Do you have liver or kidney problems?
- Do you have breathing problems such as asthma, COPD or sleep apnoea?
- Do you have epilepsy?
- Have you had an accident or a head injury?
- Do you have problems with your bowel such as constipation?
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Are you taking any other medicines? This includes any medicines you buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you start oxycodone. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
What are the side effects of oxycodone?
Like all medicines, oxycodone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
Addiction is an excessive craving. If you are addicted to oxycodone, it means you are not able to control your use of it. It is unusual for people who are prescribed oxycodone for a short time or for a terminal illness to become addicted to it.
Some people are more likely to develop addiction than others and seem to be very sensitive to the cravings. You may be at risk for addiction if you have mental health problems such as depression or a history of substance abuse, including alcohol and recreational drugs.
To reduce your risk of addiction, oxycodone for short-term pain relief should be used for the shortest possible time, at the lowest effective dose, with a plan in place to reduce and withdraw treatment.
Other side effects
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|Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product|
Oxycodone interacts with some other medications and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting oxycodone or before starting any new medicines. It may interact with medicines available without a prescription such as cough suppressants (for example, Benadryl Dry Forte®, Duro-Tuss®) and sedating antihistamines (such as Phenergan®).
Medsafe Consumer Information sheets: Oxycontin; Oxycodone; Oxynorm capsules
New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: oxycodone (short acting)
oxycodone (long acting)
- Oxycodone: how did we get here and how do we fix it? BPAC, 2014
- Oxycodone hydrochloride New Zealand Formulary
Additional resources for healthcare professionals
Oxycodone hydrochloride NZ Formulary
Oxycodone modified release tablet Medsafe, NZ
OxyNorm capsule and liquid Medsafe, NZ
OxyContin modified release tablet Medsafe, NZ
Oxycodone — sometimes more pain than gain? Medsafe, NZ, 2015
Upfront – oxycodone – did we fix it? BPAC, NZ, 2020
Oxycodone – how did we get here and how do we fix it? BPAC, NZ, 2014
Making strong opioids safer for patients OPEN Health Quality & Safety Commission, NZ, 2016