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How Does Oxycodone/APAP Work?

Oxycodone/APAP contains two different medications that work together to control pain: acetaminophen and oxycodone hydrochloride. Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic, opioid pain reliever. It is chemically related to codeine. Oxycodone is effective at decreasing pain, but also causes drowsiness and suppresses the drive to breathe (which is known medically as "respiratory suppression").
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications, such as Tylenol®. "APAP" is an acronym for one of the chemical names for acetaminophen. Adding acetaminophen to oxycodone makes both medications more effective at relieving pain and may limit the abuse potential of oxycodone, as the maximum dose of oxycodone/APAP is often limited by the acetaminophen content.

Is It Addictive?

People may become addicted to oxycodone/APAP. In fact, oxycodone/APAP and other similar medications are commonly abused drugs. They are readily available and relatively inexpensive, especially in generic form. People often prefer to abuse prescription medications like oxycodone/APAP instead of illegal street drugs for perceived safety reasons. Because it is a highly desired drug of abuse, people often obtain it through illegal means, such as from foreign countries or online sources that do not require a prescription. People who abuse oxycodone/APAP and suddenly stop using it are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

When and How to Take Oxycodone/APAP

Some general considerations for when and how to take this medication include the following:
  • Oxycodone/APAP comes in the form of a capsule, tablet, and oral solution (liquid). It is taken by mouth, usually every six hours as needed for pain.
  • This medication is either taken "as needed" or on a scheduled basis. "As needed" means you will only take a dose if you are experiencing pain (if you are not in pain, you will skip the dose), while "scheduled use" means you should take oxycodone/APAP on schedule, even if you are not in pain. Most healthcare providers prescribe oxycodone/APAP on an "as needed" basis, rather than a scheduled basis.
  • It is best to take oxycodone/APAP with food, as this may help reduce stomach upset.
  • Be careful not to exceed the maximum recommended daily dose, as this could lead to overdose symptoms or poisoning from the acetaminophen component, which can cause liver failure.
  • You may want to consider taking a laxative along with oxycodone/APAP, especially if you will take it regularly for more than a few days, as it often causes constipation.
  • For oxycodone/APAP to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not increase your dose or take it more frequently than prescribed without your healthcare provider's approval. If you have been taking oxycodone/APAP for more than a few weeks, do not stop taking it suddenly without your healthcare provider's supervision.
8 Frequent Pain Syndromes

Oxycodone APAP Drug Information

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