Oxycodone and heroin are both semi-synthetic opioids derived from morphine. However, oxycodone is available by prescription to treat moderate to severe pain, while the DEA classifies heroin as a Schedule I substance, meaning that it has no legitimate medical purpose. Despite disparities in legality and potency, both substances have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Heroin is roughly 2-5 times more potent than morphine and is generally stronger than oxycodone, which is about 1.5 times more potent than morphine. While both substances are extremely risky to abuse, heroin is generally perceived as being the more dangerous of the two, due to its higher potency and typical method of administration (injecting).
That said, like heroin, excessive use of oxycodone can lead to life-threatening central nervous system depression and a myriad of other adverse health complications. Oxycodone can also be crushed and snorted, a route of administration that comes with more risks than when it is taken by mouth as directed.
Both substances result in similar effects, although depending on the dose and method of administration, heroin use tends to cause more rapid, intense results. Desired effects include euphoria and feelings of calm and relaxation, and severe adverse effects may include profound sedation that can lead to respiratory arrest and death.
More on Oxycodone
Oxycodone is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, often following an injury or surgery. OxyContin is a controlled-release form of oxycodone that is released gradually over time and can remain in the body for several days. Oxycodone is a Schedule II substance, meaning that it has some accepted medical use.
Although oxycodone is not considered safe to use long-term due to its potential for dependence, it has frequently been prescribed for such. And while doctors are cutting back on its use in the aftermath of the opioid epidemic, it continues to do damage. Many, many people, both past and present, have become addicted to it. Those who do are at an increased likelihood of turning to heroin when they can no longer afford or access their drug of choice.
When OxyContin, a brand name for oxycodone, first came on the market in the mid-1990s, it was touted by its maker, Purdue Pharma, as safe and non-habit forming. Unfortunately, this turned out to be false. As a result, the company has been sued for billions by many states and municipalities for its role in the opioid crisis.
Still, when used short-term as prescribed, oxycodone is a much safer option than heroin, which is unregulated by the government. It’s also true that oxycodone use and misuse are less stigmatized, partially because it’s a prescription drug and also because it’s less commonly injected. Of note, however, illicit oxycodone may include adulterants, and the potency can vary. For these reasons, when obtained on the street, it has the potential to be equally as dangerous as heroin.
More on Heroin
Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 and was manufactured by Bayer and used for medical purposes, such as the treatment of pain in the U.S. for several years. It was soon found to be extremely dangerous, however. As a result, the Heroin Act of 1924 was established, which prohibited the manufacture, importation, and possession of heroin, even for medical use.
As mentioned, unlike prescription opioids, which are tightly regulated and often administered orally in specific doses, the ingredients in heroin can vary widely, and so can it’s potency. Heroin has always been dangerous, but in recent years, the death toll has been rising dramatically, mostly due to the use of fentanyl and other more powerful synthetic opioids in heroin. Dealers do this to maximize profits, as fentanyl is relatively inexpensive and a little goes a long way.
So, unfortunately, many people who buy heroin aren’t aware of what they are putting in their bodies. Still, while many people understand the risks of today’s drug supply, they continue to use, despite the fact knowing that they could easily overdose and die.
Also, as heroin is commonly injected, this method of use can increase a person’s risk of contracting blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, as a result of sharing unsterile needles. It can also result in sores, skin infections, abscesses, and collapsed veins.
Finally, those who inject drugs such as heroin are at a heightened risk for addiction. When injected, heroin goes directly into the brain and bloodstream, resulting in more rapid and intense effects than if it were consumed by mouth and first processed by the digestive system. This manner of drug use increases the likelihood that a person will become dependent upon, and ultimately addicted to, a substance.
Getting Treatment for Opioid Addiction
All opioids, due to their addictive nature and potential for abuse and overdose, can be dangerous. We urge those who struggle with an addiction to oxycodone, heroin, or other opioids to seek help as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one are ready to enter recovery, reach out to Just Believe Detox or Just Believe Recovery today! We offer detox as well as comprehensive treatment programs, behavioral therapies, counseling, group support, and multiple therapeutic services and activities clinically proven to be very beneficial for the recovery process.
Are you ready to break free from the cycle of addiction and reclaim the life you deserve? We are waiting for your call!