OxyContin/Oxycodone and Depression

How opioids like OxyContin and oxycodone can influence depression.

Table of Contents

What is OxyContin/Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. There are two versions of the drug: OxyContin is the brand name, extended-release version, and oxycodone is the generic, immediate-release counterpart.1

OxyContin vs. Oxycodone

Although OxyContin and oxycodone are both forms of the same pain-relieving opioid, there are minor differences between the two.

OxyContin and oxycodone work by attaching to pain receptors in the brain. OxyContin, however, refers to the extended-release version of oxycodone, meaning its effects last longer. Oxycodone, the generic form with shorter effects, can be prescribed in immediate-release tablets, capsules, and liquid oral solutions.

Can You Become Addicted to OxyContin/Oxycodone?

The powerful pain-relieving properties of OxyContin/oxycodone make it highly addictive. Its euphoric effects lead users to take higher doses than prescribed, and use may continue long after the recommended time frame.

Regular use of OxyContin/oxycodone can also create a tolerance to its effects, leading to higher doses at increased frequencies and to an addiction that can harm the body.

Depression Causes

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Depression disorder is estimated to affect more than 17 million adults in the U.S. each year. 2

While the severity and presence of depression symptoms vary from person to person, it’s common for depression to interfere with one’s ability to cope with normal activities in one’s day-to-day life. Depression can lead to a loss of interest, feelings of sadness and numbness, excessive fatigue, and dropping energy levels.

Other symptoms of depression can include:

When a clinical depression disorder goes untreated, it increases the chances of one developing a substance use disorder. The two disorders combined can have a negative impact on all aspects of daily life from one’s personal relationships, to one’s work or school schedule and many aspects in between.

Can OxyContin or Oxycodone Cause Depression?

The relationship between OxyContin/oxycodone and depression has long been examined. Studies have shown that extended durations of prescription opioid use, including that of oxycodone, are linked to a significantly increased risk of major depression.3

A person with depression may seek ways to lessen the depression symptoms while also participating in increased risky behavior. This can lead to the abuse of prescription opioids such as OxyContin or oxycodone.

How Could OxyContin/Oxycodone Help Someone with Depression?

As with many prescription opioids, OxyContin/oxycodone inhibit the brain’s perception of pain, masking the pain and releasing dopamine. While OxyContin/oxycodone is not an effective treatment for depression, this dopamine boost increases feelings of euphoria to counteract the negative feelings associated with depression.

What Was the OxyContin Lawsuit About?

OxyContin is manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, and was the target of several lawsuits throughout the U.S., with many being dismissed. Those affected by prescription opioid addiction agree that OxyContin’s marketing hides how addictive and dangerous it can be.4

The biggest case to date, launched against Purdue Pharma, is believed to be the first granted class-action OxyContin lawsuit. It was filed due to the company’s marketing practices of the addictive drug which has ravaged the lives of millions. Purdue Pharma has agreed to a multibillion-dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice as a result of the OxyContin lawsuit.5

Treating Depression as a Co-Occrring Disorder

For many, OxyContin/oxycodone addiction and depression coexist, creating a difficult cycle to overcome. Depression and addiction can be treated as co-occurring disorders and worked through with the help of professionals. Treatment for OxyContin/oxycodone and depression can be found through addiction counseling, mental health therapy, intensive inpatient and outpatient programs, detox/withdrawal, and rehabilitation programs.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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