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Freund and Speyer of the University of Frankfurt in Germany first synthesized oxycodone from thebaine (an alkaloid derived from the opium poppy plant) in 1916, a few years after the German pharmaceutical company Bayer had stopped the mass production of heroin due to addiction and dependence among its users. It was hoped that a thebaine-derived drug would retain the analgesic effects of morphine and heroin with less dependence. To some extent this was achieved, as oxycodone does not have the same immediate effect as heroin or morphine nor does it last as long. The first clinical use of the drug was documented in 1917, and was first introduced to the US market in May 1939.


Oxycodone, or oxycontin, is an opioid analgesic medication synthesized from opium-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany, as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve upon morphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine. In the United States, oxycodone is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, outlawing sale, distribution and purchase by anyone.


OxyContin is Purdue Pharma’s brand for time-release oral oxycodone. Oxycodone oral medications are generally prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain in patients who have undergone surgery or who have suffered physical trauma.


Common Side Effects Include:

  • Euphoria
  • Memory loss
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Pruritus
  • Diaphoresis
  • Impotence

Rare Side Effects Include:

  • Nervousness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Ischuria
  • Dyspnea
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Decreased testosterone secretion

Compared to morphine, oxycodone causes less respiratory depression, sedation, pruritus, and nausea. As a result, it is generally better tolerated than morphine.

Similar Drugs

Oxycodone is often termed “hillbilly heroin” because it causes the same physical effects in the body as heroin but is easier to obtain. Drugs like morphine and opium also have the same physical effects as oxycodone. Percocet and Vicodin are in the same class of painkillers as oxycodone.

Addiction Information

There are many physical and emotional signs of oxycodone addiction. Oxycodone addiction can be characterized by someone who continues to abuse the drug again and again even after knowing the negative effects it has on health. Consumed with thoughts of getting more of the drug and becoming disconnected from other areas of their lives, users’ confidence will be placed in Oxycontin and they will feel like they can’t function without it.

Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction Include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Apathy
  • Confusion
  • Small pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nodding off
  • Seizure
  • Nausea
  • Clammy skin
  • Financial problems

Most people who use oxycodone are prescribed the drug by a physician. However, oxycodone is an opiate narcotic by nature and is easily abused because of the sense of euphoria and well-being.

According to the DEA, oxycodone is probably the most abused prescription drug out on the market today. The use and addiction rate of oxycodone has increased at an alarming rate of over 300 percent the past 12 years. As a result, emergency room visits that are related to an oxycodone problem have increased over 500 percent.
Prolonged oxycodone use will build a tolerance over time, making the drug less effective. As a result, the user will increase the intake of oxycodone to treat pain, further destroying their organs, especially the liver and kidneys, ultimately leading to death.

Oxycodone Withdrawal

There is a high risk of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms if a user discontinues oxycodone abruptly. Therefore, oxycodone therapy should be gradually tapered down rather than abruptly discontinued. People who use oxycodone in a hazardous or harmful fashion are at even higher risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, as they tend to use higher than prescribed doses.

Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Flu like symptoms

Oxycodone Overdose

Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Bradycardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Cold skin
  • Apnea
  • Hypotension
  • Miosis (pupil constriction)
  • Circulatory collapse
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Death

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