As one of the most popular prescription opioids around, oxycodone delivers powerful, pain-relieving effects. It also carries a high risk of abuse and addiction. If you have a prescription of oxycodone, it’s unlikely a pharmacy will try to sell you fake oxycodone. If you’re buying it on the street, knowing the answer to “what does oxycodone look like” may help prevent you from buying something dangerous. With so many different drug manufacturers and dosage levels, spotting the real thing can be hard on the street, not to mention knowing what’s really inside the pills that you buy.
What Is Oxycodone and Should I Believe the Hype?
Oxycodone was first synthesized from thebaine, an alkaloid from the opium poppy plant in 1916. While originally thought to be less addictive than heroin and morphine, oxycodone has proved to be just as harmful. It wasn’t until the mid-1990’s that the real problems surrounding oxycodone came to light in the guise of an extended-release formulation known as OxyContin. From that time onward, opioid addiction rates have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions.
Oxycodone’s pain-relieving properties stem from its ability to stimulate opioid receptors in the brain. This interaction releases large amounts of endorphins, the body’s “feel-good,” “feel-no-pain” chemicals. When used as prescribed, it poses little risk for abuse or addiction; however, the way Oxycodone works makes it difficult not to exceed prescription guidelines. In this respect, there’s no safe dosage of oxycodone, especially if you’re using it on a recreational basis. This means knowing the answer to the question “what does oxycodone look like” isn’t enough to protect you from the dangers surrounding this drug.
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Dangers of Oxycodone
Whether you’re taking oxycodone for medical reasons or using it for recreational purposes, the same dangers apply. Oxycodone acts on the central nervous system, changing how opioid receptors work and altering the brain’s chemical pathways. Normally, your opioid receptors only release endorphin chemicals when an injury occurs. Endorphins also play pivotal roles in regulating your moods.
Perhaps the biggest and most dangerous effect oxycodone has is on the brain’s reward center. This area works in tandem with the areas of the brain that regulate your thinking, emotions, and behaviors and takes its cues from the level of endorphins in your system. The reward center directs your thinking, emotions, drives, and priorities, all of which ultimately drive your behaviors.
Even if you’re taking a safe dosage of oxycodone, or the prescribed amount, these changes still occur. With repeated use, the brain’s reward center can become dependent on the drug’s effects. In turn, this dependency impacts all the functions that this area regulates (thinking, emotions, priorities, behaviors). As these changes happen, your mind becomes psychologically dependent on the drug, which is what addiction is.
What Does Oxycodone Look Like?
Pills & Capsules
While there’s nothing safe about buying oxycodone on the street, knowing what it looks like can help you avoid falling for fake oxycodone. Oral forms of the drug come as pills, capsules, and liquid formulations. Several pharmaceutical companies manufacture oxycodone so it comes in many different sizes, colors, shapes, imprints, and dosage levels.
Oxycodone is also a generic ingredient so it can be prescribed on its own or with other ingredients, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. All these variations can make it difficult to spot the real thing. Here are just a few ways oxycodone can look:
- Five-milligram tablets may appear small, round and white
- A 20-milligram tablet may appear pink and oval
- An 80-milligram tablet may appear green, oval, and have a film coating
- Capsules come in different colors with different imprints for each manufacturer
Oxycodone Liquid Formulation
Oxycodone pills and capsules are usually prescribed to treat moderate and severe pain symptoms and should only be used on a short-term basis. On average, pain-relieving effects can be felt in 30 minutes. The liquid formulation is used to treat breakthrough pain that occurs when someone takes opioids on an ongoing basis, such as with cancer patients. It works much faster, providing relief in as little as 15 minutes. Like pills and capsules, oxycodone liquid comes in different strengths but it always appears clear and has no odor.
What does oxycodone look like compared to counterfeit versions? It can be really hard to tell the difference. Not only that but fake oxycodone can kill you within minutes.
Drug dealers can add any ingredients they want and still make a pill look like the real thing. One ingredient that’s been showing up quite often in oxycodone packaging is fentanyl. As one of the most powerful opioids in existence, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. At this potency level, it only takes around two milligrams to cause an overdose and death.
Whether you’re using oxycodone for the first time or you’re an experienced drug user, the risk of overdose and death runs high when taking counterfeit oxycodone. The scary thing is you never know what you’re really getting when you buy from a dealer. Buying oxycodone with a valid prescription offers the only way to avoid ending up with fake oxycodone. Talk to a Intake Coordinator
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Things to Keep in Mind
Whether your prescription has run out and you “need” more or you use oxycodone for recreational reasons, buying it on the street may be a sign of a developing addiction problem. Opioids have a way of making you crave more and more of the same. What started out as a twice a day, the two-milligram dose can quickly turn into a three-times-a-day, 10-milligram habit.
Before long, it will take something stronger than oxycodone to produce the effects you want. At this point, “what does oxycodone look like” becomes irrelevant, and buying heroin becomes an option. The sad truth is someone who abuses opioids will always be looking for a stronger “high” because that’s how these drugs work. Opioid rehab treatment is the only way to break this vicious cycle.
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Missouri Medicine, “The Opioid Epidemic: It’s Time to Place Blame Where It Belongs”
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment”
- dea.gov – Drug Enforcement Administration, “DEA Report: Counterfeit Pills Fueling U.S. Fentanyl And Opioid Crisis”
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
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