Oxycodone is a painkiller that takes effect within about 15 minutes and lasts for several hours. It is usually taken as a pill, but it is sometimes also snorted as a powder or injected.

It is sometimes also formally known as OxyContin (which is a slightly different form that lasts longer) or Roxicodone and it is sometimes combined with other substances such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. Its street names include Oxy, Oxycotton, Kickers and Hillbilly Heroin. Different strengths of pill are sometimes colour-coded, so a certain type might be nicknamed ‘Blues’ and so on.


Oxycodone is legally prescribed as a painkiller to help with moderate to severe pain, which can often lead to people accidentally developing a dependency after experiencing a serious injury, having surgery or sometimes even going through childbirth. It is also used recreationally by people who want to experience its long-lasting euphoric effects and some of these people go on to become addicted.

Like all addictions, a given amount of Oxycodone has less and less effect over time as the user builds up a tolerance. It also has many side effects, which can have a serious impact on someone’s health and their ability to function in society.

There is no single universal cause to all forms of addiction and two people who have much in common may ultimately have very different experiences. However, Oxycodone addiction is a widespread problem and many people find that they have at least some experiences in common with other users who have also fallen into the trap of addiction. These are some of the factors that might make someone vulnerable to developing an Oxycodone addiction.


Easy access to Oxycodone, such as through a legitimate prescription, may increase the chances of developing an addiction. Suffering from an injury or illness that causes pain may lead to addiction. Ongoing or past abuse, stress or trauma may also lead someone to Oxycodone addiction.

People who are susceptible to peer pressure may be more likely to develop an Oxycodone addiction, as might people who engage in risk-taking behaviour. Those with low self-esteem or a history of mental illness may also be more likely to develop an addiction.

A family history of drug abuse and/or addiction increases the chances of developing an Oxycodone addiction, and this can often connect to environmental factors. In addition, a family history of mental health disorders is known to heighten someone’s risk of developing addictions.

Addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward system and illness or injury can affect this area of the brain. Mental health issues linked to brain chemistry can also impact on someone’s chances of developing an Oxycodone addiction.

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are crucial differences. ‘Abuse’ means that someone is using Oxycodone in a dangerous manner – possibly without even realising it – while ‘addiction’ is a physical and psychological dependence.

The first warning sign that someone has developed an Oxycodone addiction is finding that they are unable to stop using it. They may find themselves unable to cope without it and may panic at the thought of being without access to it. If they find themselves without it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant and even dangerous.