Hydrocodone vs Oxycodone: What is the difference?

Synthetic opioids come in many varieties, with different formulations of pain medications varying depending on their use. Opioids are most commonly prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Even though many brand names of opioids are similar, variations of the drugs may be used for alternative purposes. For example, medications such hydrocodone and oxycodone are both considered opioids, typically prescribed for pain management, but hydrocodone may be used as a cough suppressant as well. These drugs work by blocking the body’s pain signals from the central nervous system and are highly effective for the treatment of acute pain.

Differences between Hydrocodone and Oxycodone

The most prominent difference between hydrocodone vs oxycodone, is that hydrocodone contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Other differences between the two prescription opioids are the common side effects. Oxycodone may lead to more tiredness, while hydrocodone more frequently may lead to constipation. These side effects are common with opioids within this drug class, yet certain effects may vary depending on the type of opioid taken. Even though the effects of oxycodone and hydrocodone are similar, differences between oxycodone and hydrocodone still exist and patients should be aware of these differences for possible adverse drug interactions.

Different drugs, similar side effects

Hydrocodone and oxycodone similarities include a very comparable potency. Both opioids are effective pain relievers that treat moderate to severe pain. Like most pain medications, opioid addiction is possible after long-term opioid consumption. The use of prescription opioid analgesics by both pain management patients and drug abusers can lead to dependency similar to a heroin addiction. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with oxycodone or hydrocodone, even if the medication is prescribed by a doctor or the patient as no history of substance abuse.


Treatment centers often attempt to combat addiction to drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone with replacement drugs such as Suboxone or methadone. Oftentimes, a doctor prescribes these drugs in an outpatient treatment, such as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs using methadone. Unlike traditional addiction treatments, ANR allows the patient to return to a pre-addiction state, without the use of substitute opioids. When comparing rehab programs, it is always important to find recovery resources that avoid replacement opioid medications as their approach to therapy and seek proper treatment to restore the bodies endorphin system into a natural state.

Click the links for more information on hydrocodone withdrawal and Oxycodone withdrawal treatment.

Additional information:

How long Hydrocodone stays in your system
How long Oxycodone stays in your system

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