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It’s likely that you’ve heard of both oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Both of these painkillers are very common and are frequently prescribed for pain. They are both often misused and abused, but they also provide great relief for patients who need them for acute or chronic pain. They are both prescription opioids, and they are both designated as Schedule II drugs by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Many people believe that they are the exact same drug and use their names interchangeably. However, that’s not the case. Oxycodone and hydrocodone are similar in many ways, but they are two different drugs. Read on to learn more about both of these medications.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a drug that is used as a pain medication; it’s a narcotic analgesic. It’s a prescription opioid, and it goes by a number of different brand names, including OxyContin, Percocet, Tylox, Percodan, and Roxicet. Several of these brands include acetaminophen or aspirin in their medication, along with the opioid itself. Oxycodone is available in extended-release form as well as the more common sustained-release form.
Oxycodone is prescribed for a wide variety of ailments that cause severe pain, including cancer, surgery, injuries, and dental procedures.
This drug was and is a major player in the opioid epidemic. Because of this, doctors today take great care to only prescribe this drug when other drugs are ineffective. There is a high potential for abuse and addiction to oxycodone after even a very short period of consistent use.
What is Hydrocodone?
Hydrocodone is very similar to oxycodone. It’s also a semi-synthetic opioid and it is also prescribed for pain. It also has a very high potential for abuse and addiction, and doctors must take great care when prescribing it to their patients. Today, after seeing the opioid epidemic destroy many lives, doctors prescribe hydrocodone much less frequently than they used to; it is only used in severe cases. Because these are drugs similar to heroin, just in a prescription form, people can quickly become dependent on them.
Like oxycodone, hydrocodone is sold under a number of different brand names. You may know it as Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, or Lorcet.
Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone – Which is stronger?
Is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone? Is hydrocodone the same as oxycodone? Both of these drugs are quite strong, but oxycodone is slightly stronger than hydrocodone. Five milligrams of oxycodone is equivalent to 7.5 milligrams of hydrocodone. Some doctors feel that oxycodone provides is a better pain reliever for their patients than hydrocodone, but most believe that the difference is negligible and that they can prescribe a slightly larger dosage of hydrocodone, if needed, to get the same effect.
How much of each do people need to take?
The amount that each individual will need to take for pain will depend on his or her condition, his or her level of pain, and his or her pain threshold. Oxycodone comes in pill form in 10, 20, 40, and 80-milligram extended-release forms and in 5-milligram immediate-release forms. It can also be given in the injectable form in a hospital setting.
Hydrocodone comes in 2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10-milligram tablets. It, too, comes in liquid form that can be injected in the hospital. There are also transdermal patches available.
These drugs should always and only be used under a doctor’s orders and supervision. They are quite dangerous otherwise; many people have died when using these drugs recreationally.
Dangers of taking the drugs
Both oxycodone and hydrocodone can be deadly when misused or abused.
Even if you are using them correctly and with a doctor’s prescription, there are a number of side effects that can indicate a medical issue. If you have dry mouth, stomach pain, drowsiness, or a headache that won’t go away while using these drugs, contact your doctor. Further, if you feel changes in your heartbeat, nausea, chest pain, weakness, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should seek medical attention right away. Other side effects can include vomiting, hallucinations, fever, seizures, or swelling. Any of the above issues may indicate a problem – even if you are taking these drugs under your doctor’s direction – so be sure to seek help.
People who abuse these drugs may face even greater issues, not only because they are taking a drug that their body does not need, but also because they likely will take larger or more frequent doses than a doctor would even suggest to a patient in need. It’s easy to overdose on these drugs, and if you are overdosing on them, you could die. Symptoms of overdose may include difficulty breathing, narrowing or widening of the pupils, limp or weak muscles, cold, clammy skin, excessive sleepiness, or the inability to respond or wake up.
If you see these symptoms in someone you know who has taken oxycodone or hydrocodone, call an ambulance. You may save his or her life.
Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone: Similarities
Hydrocodone and oxycodone have so many similarities that many people almost consider them to be the same drug. However, they do have differences as well (see below). In general, these drugs are similar in that they are both opioids with a high potential for misuse and abuse, but they also help the people who need them immensely. They both are semi-synthetic opioids that are created in a lab, in part from the opium poppy plant. Both of these drugs played a big role in the explosion of the opioid epidemic over the past several decades, and both have claimed many lives. As a result, doctors today are much more careful about their use in both hospital and outpatient settings.
Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone: Differences
The differences between these two drugs are small, but they are worth mentioning because they are not actually the exact same drug. Oxycodone is derived from thebaine, and hydrocodone is derived from codeine. As a result, hydrocodone can be used as a cough suppressant; oxycodone does not work in this manner. Further, the chemical structures of these two drugs are almost identical, except oxycodone has one more oxygen atom than hydrocodone.
The side effects of these two drugs are similar also, but some studies show that some patients experience more constipation when taking hydrocodone than they do when taking oxycodone. On the other hand, patients who take oxycodone report more drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches than patients who take hydrocodone.
Although both of these drugs have a high potential for abuse, studies have also found that people who abuse these drugs tend to prefer the high from oxycodone over the high from hydrocodone. However, both are nearly equally dangerous and addictive.
What does addiction to Hydrocodone or Oxycodone look like?
Hydrocodone or oxycodone addiction is often pretty easy to spot, but some people who abuse these drugs are very good at hiding their dependency on these drugs from others.
If you fear that someone you love may be struggling with an addiction to one or both of these drugs, there are some signs you might see. For example, someone who is addicted to these drugs may steal them from someone’s medicine cabinet or may ask for some from someone who has recently had them prescribed. They may go to multiple doctors to try to get one or more prescriptions for themselves. These people may focus too much on their desire to get these drugs or their use of them, thereby putting their personal and professional relationships at risk. In some cases, they may wish to quit but find that they cannot, even though they are experiencing negative effects, or they may steal to support their habits.
Hydrocodone vs. Oxycodone Addiction Treatment
Fortunately, treatment is available for people who struggle with addiction to oxycodone or hydrocodone, and many people do successfully break free from their addictions and go on to live happy and healthy lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with oxycodone or hydrocodone dependency, Clear Sky Ibogaine can help. Our innovative ibogaine treatment at our beautiful facility in Cancun, Mexico, can help you to get to the root of your addictions and can help you to break free from them. Whether your issue is with gabapentin, alcohol, heroin, or cocaine, our experienced staff is standing by to welcome you with open arms. We’d love to help you take your first steps on the path to a better, freer, and healthier life. Give us a call today to learn more.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.