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Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

There is a running debate on the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Also referred to as Percocet and Vicodin respectively, these two drugs are narcotic analgesics or opioids used to treat moderate to chronic pain. Both drugs are highly addictive and have contributed to the many drug-related overdoses and deaths during the ongoing opioid crisis. Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients misuse their prescription opioids, and 80 percent of heroin users first misused their prescription opioids.1 To better understand the dangers of these drugs and how to avoid them, our Delaware drug rehab compares oxycodone versus hydrocodone.

What Are Oxycodone and Hydrocodone?

Also commonly referred to as Percocet, oxycodone is an opioid or narcotic analgesic drug that acts on the central nervous system (CSN) to alleviate pain. Oxycodone is made by modifying thebaine, an organic chemical in opium. Also known as a semi-synthetic opiate, oxycodone works by blocking pain signals that travel from the body along the nerves to the brain. The effects of oxycodone usually begin within 30 to 60 minutes after use. These effects can last anywhere between 4 to 6 hours, depending on the dose.

Hydrocodone is also a semi-synthetic opiate or painkiller prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Also known as Vicodin, hydrocodone is generally prescribed as a short-term option following surgery or to treat injury-related pain. The side effects of hydrocodone usually begin within an hour and peak after 1.3 hours after taking it. Both hydrocodone and oxycodone are habit-forming and can lead to a build-up of tolerance over time. Many individuals who abuse their prescription opioids usually require medically monitored detox to physically recover and get sober.

When comparing hydrocodone vs oxycodone, you’ll find that both produce similar side effects, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Relaxation or sedation

Because both oxycodone and hydrocodone are opioids, when taken in large doses, they can produce a euphoric, sedative, and pleasurable high. This surge of pleasure caused by an influx of dopamine is what makes these medications so addictive and dangerous. Frequently taking large doses of opioids not only contributes to addiction but also increases your risk of overdosing. If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, our inpatient rehab in Delaware can help.

What Is the Difference Between Oxycodone and Hydrocodone?

This is going to get really technical, but the main difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone is that oxycodone has an extra oxygen atom. Also, oxycodone is synthesized from thebaine and is only used to alleviate pain, while hydrocodone is derived from codeine and can be used to relieve both pain and cough. Similar to oxycodone, drug manufacturers often combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen and other substances to create effective painkillers. At one point, hydrocodone was the most prescribed medication in the nation. However, after it was reclassified as a Schedule II substance, meaning it had medical use as well as a high potential for addiction, sales dropped, and oxycodone (OxyContin) became more popularly prescribed.

Is Oxycodone Stronger Than Hydrocodone?

There is a lot of controversy over which of the two are stronger or more effective. One study found that oxycodone and hydrocodone are equally potent. The study contained 73 subjects, 35 of which took oxycodone, and 32 took hydrocodone. Both groups were found to have experienced pain relief with 5 mg of oxycodone and 5mg of hydrocodone at 30 minutes. Though the hydrocodone patients had a higher percentage of constipation (oxycodone 0% vs hydrocodone 21%), they found both medications were just as effective in treating pain.

They seem so similar, but are oxycodone and hydrocodone the same thing? No, they aren’t, but they are both addictive. If you’ve been prescribed either of these medications, be sure only to take them as directed by your doctor. Do not mix opioids and alcohol or take any other combination of substances, known as polydrug abuse, which can increase your risk of health complications and overdose. Additionally, you should not mix oxycodone and hydrocodone. If you find yourself addicted to either oxycodone or hydrocodone, get help.

Banyan Treatment Centers Delaware offers a variety of addiction services to help people with substance use disorders regain their health and sobriety. If you’re battling a drug or alcohol problem, we can help you too. Call us now at 888-280-4763 to speak to a team member about our Delaware addiction treatment options.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.