The debate over the pros and cons of opioids in the United States has reached a fever pitch. On the one hand, these prescription pain pills are effective at managing pain. On the other, they have the potential to cause opioid addiction and dependency. This ongoing debate has people wondering about the differences between oxycodone vs. hydrocodone. Is one more addictive than the other?
Oxycodone vs Hydrocodone: A Side-By-Side Look
Firstly, it’s vital to have a better understanding of both of these drugs. They’re pain pills that require a prescription to buy legally. Doctors typically prescribe them for people after they get out of surgery or suffer a severe injury.
In some cases, doctors prescribe these two drugs for long-term use. Because of their addictive nature, long-term use is only for those who suffer from chronic illnesses. For example, doctors might prescribe them for late-stage cancer patients.
Additionally, each drug could also be prescribed to manage other conditions like chronic cough, suffering from cancer, and arthritis. Both kinds of medication can be used solely. You might also find combination versions of each medication.
For example, acetaminophen, which is another kind of painkiller, might be taken with oxycodone to make a particular narcotic analgesic. This combination of medication can calm a user’s mood, allowing the painkiller time to work.
It’s also worth noting that some manufacturers mix these drugs with other medications. For example, it’s not uncommon to find name-brand versions of oxycodone that also include acetaminophen. Hydrocodone, on the other hand, might consist of an antihistamine to make an effective cough suppressant.
Risk of Abuse
When experts compare the difference between oxycodone vs. hydrocodone, the risk of abuse often comes up. Despite popular belief, both of these painkillers have the potential for abuse. The reason is that they’re opioids, which trigger a pleasurable reward response in the brain. This response is what people develop an addiction to.
However, some studies suggest that oxycodone is more addictive than hydrocodone. Experts believe that this is where the public perception that hydrocodone isn’t addictive came from. On the contrary, it is addictive but may have a slightly lower chance of causing dependency. Health care professionals say that both drugs have the risk of causing addiction.
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are potent narcotic painkillers that are accessible only with a prescription from a doctor—both conflict with the central nervous system’s pain signals. From there, they prevent the nerves in the body from sending pain signals to the brain.
The differences between oxycodone and hydrocodone are essentially on the side effects they cause.
Side Effects of Oxycodone vs Hydrocodone
Another concern that people have about the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone are side effects. Although the side effects are very similar, oxycodone is more likely to cause constipation. Some of the identical side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Shallow breathing
- Impaired motor skills
Oxycodone is more prone to cause side effects of drowsiness and dizziness, along with fatigue, headaches, and euphoric feelings. Hydrocodone is more prone to cause stomach pain and constipation.
Severe, but less frequent side effects will include:
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Painful urination
Who Gets prescribed These Painkillers?
Oxycodone is prescribed to treat mild to severe pain. Those who take the medication usually do so frequently throughout the day until their doctor ends the prescription or directs them to stop taking it. In other words, oxycodone must not be used as-needed the way over-the-counter painkillers are taken.
Additionally, hydrocodone is utilized to treat mild to severe pain created by a chronic condition, surgery, or injury. Similar to oxycodone, they should only be taken as prescribed by a doctor.
This is critical because of the addiction risks associated with taking them. This is possibly due to the way they’re prescribed. Hydrocodone seems more likely to create dependency than oxycodone. It is the most misused form of opioid in the United States. In numerous European countries, hydrocodone has been profoundly restricted for several years.
How Drug Class Works
Up until 2014, oxycodone and hydrocodone were in two separate drug schedules, which is a number that is assigned to a chemical, drug, or substance. The schedule number shows the likelihood the substance may become misused, along with the drug’s acceptable medical use.
Currently, both oxycodone and hydrocodone are classified as schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs create a high potential for being misused.
Forms and Dosing
Generally, both oxycodone and hydrocodone are mixed with other chemicals or painkillers. Unmixed oxycodone is sold by the brand name drug Oxycontin.
Users will take Oxycontin pills orally, ordinarily every 12 hours. The tablets come in various doses. The dose used will depend on the severity of the user’s pain.
Pure hydrocodone is sold in an extended-release structure, which releases into the body gradually, but not all at once. This enables the medication to work over an extended period. The brand name for the drug is Zohydro ER. Users can take a tablet orally every 12 hours. This prescription medication may be utilized to treat long-term pain conditions.
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are potent painkillers, both being highly efficient at managing pain.
In the case of an emergency, studies have shown both medications manage pain equally. In a survey conducted of both drugs, they concluded that both oxycodone and hydrocodone are similarly efficient at treating pain.
Participants encountered equal pain relief between 30 and 60 minutes after the drug was taken. However, those who took hydrocodone endured constipation more often than those who used oxycodone.
Another study had found that the mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen was 1.5 times more effective than hydrocodone with acetaminophen when used at equal doses.
Cost of Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are marketed as brand-name drugs and also have generic options. Generic medicines are less expensive than their brand-name equivalents. For that reason, some might want to use the generic versions.
Before doing that, though it is wise to consult a doctor, some generic medications possess different amounts of active and inactive elements. To be classified as a generic drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it must carry the same concentration of active ingredients. However, it doesn’t have to produce the equivalent measure of inactive ingredients.
If the brand name is required, the cost is too steep, prescription coupons and prescription drug insurance could help in reducing the total cost. Those with these concerns should consult with their pharmacist regarding the savings you’re qualified to receive.
Warnings and Interactions
Individuals should not use these strong pain medications without first consulting their doctor about health history and any possible preexisting conditions.
Individuals who suffer from asthma or experience breathing difficulties might want to avoid these pain medications altogether. Additionally, because of the increased risk of constipation, those who have blockages or problems with illness might not want to use oxycodone or hydrocodone.
People should take these medications if they have kidney or liver disease. These medications could make these conditions worsen. Additionally, users should not consume alcohol while using these medications. The mixture of alcohol and painkillers could cause intense dizziness and drowsiness. The combination of both could also damage the liver severely.
Those who are pregnant should talk with their doctor about the risks of these prescriptions while they’re expecting. Research had discovered that there was a connection between opioid treatment and specific congenital disabilities. Additionally, some of the side effects of the medicine may cause problems for users who are pregnant. These side effects include difficulty breathing, constipation, behavior changes, and lightheadedness.
For those you are breastfeeding, it is advised not to take these medications. They can transfer into breast milk and harm the infant.
Even when taken exactly as prescribed and at low levels, these medications can become addictive, misuse of these drugs may cause dependence, overdose, poisoning, or become fatal.
Users must leave these pills in an area where kids can reach them.
Which Medication is Best Suited For You?
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone are efficient in reducing acute and chronic pain. They both produce comparable side effects. The differences between the two medications are minor, so the best way to choose which drug is right for you is by consulting your doctor.
Based on a user’s personal medical history, their doctor can go over the pros and cons of both medications. Some medical professionals and researchers had found that hydrocodone is less potent compared to oxycodone. In that event, a doctor might prefer to start their patient on a smaller dose to see how their body reacts to the medication.
If the first option used doesn’t work or causes unfavorable side effects, a doctor consultation about changing medications or doses is highly recommended.
Start Your Rehab Experience Right With Professional Detox Services
Before you search for an opioid addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, you need to detox. At LA Detox, we understand this and focus entirely on drug detox. However, we go above and beyond other detox centers in the area. A few of the unique services that we offer include:
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Intensive outpatient rehab
- Family therapy
- Trauma therapy
Don’t let the ongoing debate between oxycodone vs. hydrocodone keep you from getting help. Seek treatment to deal with the withdrawal symptoms that these drugs cause. Contact us to learn more about our detox program.