Tramadol vs Percocet: Which One Do Studies Say is the Strongest

Percocet is made up of a combination of acetaminophen and oxycodone, it is the strongest prescription combination medicine for as needed pain relief.  While Percocet is the strongest opioid, tramadol is considered to be weaker than most opioids.

Tramadol is made up of a combination of monoamine reuptake inhibitors (MRI) and a synthetic opioid medication. The opioid works on the opioid centers of the brain while the MRI works by inhibiting the reuptake of both norepinephrine and serotonin. When someone takes this substance, it binds directly to their opioid receptors and has an influence on the central nervous system. 

This interaction that opioid medications have with the central nervous system decreases an individuals’ perception of pain. Although tramadol is not as strong as other opioids, it is still an effective opioid pain reliever, even in severe cases. There is also an extended release version of the medication that is available for any condition requiring around the clock relief. 

Differences Between Tramadol and Percocet

Although they differ in chemical structure, they are both considered to be opioids. The difference between the two is in their potency and addiction potential.  Both may be prescribed to treat moderate to severe discomfort if other non-opioid treatments have failed to be effective. Both interact with opioid receptors in the brain and block the transmission of pain signals.

Percocet contains oxycodone and acetaminophen, which is considered to be more potent than tramadol. Oftentimes, pain relievers are compared to each other on the basis of morphine equivalent dosing. Oxycodone, one of the active ingredients in Percocet, is known to be 1.5 times more potent than morphine, while tramadol is a trivial potency in comparison to morphine. Both substances are effective in treating pain, but, oxycodone is more effective for severe cases while tramadol is typically prescribed to treat less severe pain.

Possible Interactions with Tramadol or Percocet 

When one substance changes the way another one works, this is considered a drug interaction. An interaction can be harmful and prevent the substance from working as it was intended to, this is why it is so important to make your healthcare provider aware of any medication or substance that you are taking.  

You should avoid the use of tramadol and Percocet with other CNS depressant drugs whenever possible. Other medications like alprazolam and diazepam, as well as other opiate painkillers, may cause a dangerous level of CNS depression when used in combination with these medications. Patients may exhibit side effects such as severe respiratory depression, profound sedation, low blood pressure, coma, or death.

Serotonin receptors, such as fluox­etine or sertraline, should be used cautiously when taken with any opioid. Serotonin syndrome is a condition that may occur when taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). It can cause symptoms including increased heart rate, high blood pressure, confusion, and trembling.

Side Effects & The Risk of Addiction

The adverse effects of tramadol are similar to those of Percocet (oxycodone + acetaminophen),  and most other opioid medications. The most common side effects of these substances tend to be gastrointestinal in nature. Including nausea, constipation, vomiting, indigestion, and dizziness. Some non-gastrointestinal reactions include drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, itching, allergic reaction, and possible risk of seizures.

An additional side effect is opioid addiction, due to the risk of abuse. As with any other opioid pain medication, misuse can lead to physical dependence. Although the potential for abuse may be lower than some other opiates, the potential is still there when it is not taken as directed by a medical professional.  Therefore, because there is some abuse potential still present, there is also still an addictive potential present as well. 

Effects of Prescription Drugs: Generic vs Brand Name

Generic drugs are made to work exactly the same way that a brand name drug would. They contain the same active ingredients, as well as the same quality, dosage, strength, and route of administration as the brand name. 

Despite common belief, generic medications are not any less effective than its brand name counterpart. The FDA states that a drug manufacturer must prove that their generic version of the medication can  be substituted for the brand name medication as well as offer all of the same benefits. 

 On average, the generic medications actually cost about 80-85% less than the brand name medications. One study shows that between the years of 2007 to 2016, generic drugs saved the United States Healthcare System $1.67 trillion dollars. 

Despite all of their similarities, generic and brand name medications are typically very easy to tell apart. They generally differ in shape, color, packaging, and inactive ingredients. It’s very uncommon that you would mistake one for the other. Because of trademark laws, the two medications cannot look the same. 

Tramadol is the generic name for a brand name medication also known as Ultram. While the generic name for Percocet is oxycodone & acetaminophen. 

Read more on Tramadol withdrawal and Percocet withdrawal.

Frequently Asked Questions

This narcotic analgesic is used to manage moderate discomfort, it is not as strong as some other opioid medications.
Tramadol is much weaker than the oxycodone that Percocet contains, therefore, Percocet is much more likely to be effective in relieving severe discomfort.
This medication is used to treat both acute pain such as after a surgery and chronic pain such as low back problems. The extended-release tablets or capsules are used to treat chronic ongoing issues.
Most typical opioids are only available by prescription from your healthcare provider; the type and dose prescribed may be different for each individual. Opioids are available in many different forms, one of them being oral tablets.
Psychological dependence is when a person truly believes they need a specific substance. While physiological dependence is when a person’s body becomes chemically dependent on the substance and they experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it.

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