How Does Oxycodone Work?

Oxycodone is a narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It binds to opioid receptors throughout the body and produces a number of different effects. These effects include, but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Cough suppression
  • Decreased breathing (slow or shallow breathing)
  • Certain changes in the circulatory system
  • Slowing of the digestive tract
  • Release of histamine (which often causes itching)
  • Physical dependence.

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations include the following:
  • Oxycodone medications come in tablet, capsule, liquid, or extended-release tablet forms. Oxycodone is available by itself or in combination with other pain medications. The particular directions for each product can vary substantially, so make sure to refer to the information for your specific oxycodone medication.
  • When taking this product by mouth, it is probably best to take it with food, as it can be upsetting to the stomach.
  • Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not increase your dose without your healthcare provider's approval. Do not suddenly stop taking oxycodone, especially if you have taken it regularly for more than several weeks (see Oxycodone Withdrawal).

Dosing Information

The dosage that your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, including:
  • The particular oxycodone product
  • The type and dose of other painkillers you have taken
  • The type and severity of your pain
  • How you respond to the medication
  • Other medications you are taking
  • Other medical conditions you may have.
As is always the case, do not adjust your dose unless your healthcare provider specifically instructs you to do so.
(Click Oxycodone Dosage for more information.)
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