Percocet Vs. OxyContin | Differences & Similarities
Percocet and OxyContin are similar medications in terms of drug class, side effects, and opioid ingredient—oxycodone. They’re different because Percocet is a combination medication that also contains acetaminophen, and OxyContin contains oxycodone alone.
One of the reasons they are so similar is because both prescription drugs contain the semi-synthetic opioid oxycodone. However, Percocet and OxyContin are two distinct drugs.
Differences Between Percocet & OxyContin
While OxyContin and Percocet are very similar, they do have a few differences that may cause a healthcare provider to prescribe one over the other.
The big difference between Percocet and OxyContin is what they contain. OxyContin is the brand name for oxycodone, while Percocet is the brand name for the combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen.
Another area where the two drugs differ is in their formulations. Percocet only comes as an immediate-release formulation while OxyContin is typically found as an extended-release tablet or capsule.
The immediate-release pills are released into the bloodstream right away and extended-release pills release the drug into the bloodstream gradually.
Similarities Between Percocet & OxyContin
Percocet and OxyContin share the same drug class, control schedule, side effects, drug interactions, and more.
OxyContin and Percocet are both classified as opioid analgesics. This means they contain opioids and are used to treat moderate to severe pain.
The FDA and DEA classify OxyContin and Percocet as Schedule II controlled substances. This means they both have a high potential for abuse and can lead to tolerance, psychological and physical dependence, and addiction.
How They Work
Percocet and OxyContin both work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocking pain signals. They also release the neurotransmitter dopamine which is what brings on a euphoric feeling that often leads to abuse and addiction.
OxyContin and Percocet also have similar half-lives. Half-life is how long it takes for half a dose of the drug to exit the body. OxyContin’s half-life is approximately 3 hours while Percocet’s half-life is between 3-4 hours.
OxyContin and Percocet also have similar side effects that can range in intensity from moderate to severe depending on the dosage. Some of the most common side effects of both opioid medications include:
- unusual drowsiness or sleepiness
- brain fog
- loss of appetite
- motor skill impairment
- dry mouth
While rare, the two drugs can also lead to serious side effects.
If you experience any of the following side effects, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible:
- fever and chills
- skin rash and itching
- vomiting of blood
- painful urination
- severe nausea
- low blood pressure
- slow heart rate
- shallow breathing
There are also certain drugs that don’t react well with OxyContin and Percocet. When some drugs are combined with either of these two opioid medications, the mixture can lead to adverse effects.
Some of the drugs that don’t interact well with OxyContin and Percocet include:
- central nervous system (CNS) depressants
- serotonergic drugs
- other opioid analgesics like hydrocodone, codeine, and methadone
- monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- anticholinergic drugs,
- muscle relaxants
OxyContin also shouldn’t be mixed with inhibitors of CYP3A4 and CYP2D, certain antibiotics, antifungals, and protease inhibitors. Percocet should also be avoided when taking oral contraceptives, activated charcoal, beta-blockers, and probenecid.
Signs Of Addiction
If you are worried about a loved one abusing or becoming addicted to OxyContin or Percocet, there are some signs you can look out for.
The signs for OxyContin and Percocet addiction are similar and may include:
- taking the drug even when not in pain
- taking the drug in a way not intended or as prescribed
- mood swings
- changes in sleep
- poor decision making
- depression and anxiety
- taking the drug despite harmful consequences
Both OxyContin and Percocet abuse can increase the risk of overdose. The signs of a Percocet or OxyContin overdose are similar and reflect the symptoms of opioid overdose:
- respiratory depression
- slow heart rate
- constricted pupils
- loss of consciousness
An opioid overdose can be life-threatening. In Ohio alone, there were 415 unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2020.
If you use OxyContin or Percocet long-term or take it in high doses, there is an increased risk of physical dependence.
When this occurs and you try to stop taking either medicine, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur, and can include:
- sleep problems
- joint pain
- muscle aches
- runny eyes
- runny noses
Because these symptoms can become very serious, a detox program is recommended when quitting either of these painkillers.
Percocet Vs. OxyContin Frequently Asked Questions
Percocet and OxyContin are very similar medications, but their methods of release and additional ingredients can cause variations in the ways the brain and body respond to each medication.
The following frequently asked questions can shed light on the ways those differences may affect people who use or abuse each drug.
Is Percocet More Dangerous Than OxyContin?
Percocet and OxyContin are equally addictive, as they contain the same active opioid agonist. With that said, each drug has risk factors that are not found in the other.
Percocet contains acetaminophen, which has the potential to cause severe liver damage and even death when it is taken in higher doses than a doctor would normally prescribe.
OxyContin is an extended release (ER) formula that can provide lasting effects up to 12 hours. Researchers found that ER formulas have a slightly higher rate of nonfatal overdose, as people taking the drug may believe their dosage is ineffective due to the slow onset.
What Treatments Are Used To Address Percocet And OxyContin Addiction?
Addiction is a mental health disorder with marked physiological side effects.
As a result, most professionals argue that substance abuse disorders require a hybrid approach that combines physical medicine and mental health counseling.
The most common method for treating opioid addiction features a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy.
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- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health https://www.porticonetwork.ca/documents/489955/0/Straight+Talk+-+Oxycontin/#:~:text=What's%20the%20difference%20between%20Percocet,when%20the%20pill%20is%20taken.
- Drugs Today https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046166/
- Food and Drug Administration https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/022272s046lbl.pdf
- Food and Drug Administration https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/040330s015,040341s013,040434s003lbl.pdf
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html