Oxycodone and hydrocodone are pain medications for short-term pain from surgery and injury. These drugs are also effective for chronic long-term pain, pain from cancer, chronic cough, and arthritis.

While you can take oxycodone and hydrocodone independently, combining these drugs will also work. The combination and functionality of oxycodone and hydrocodone have triggered confusion among users. Also, there are doubts on whether these drugs are addictive given their pain relieving functions.

To get answers to the above concerns, let’s compare oxycodone vs hydrocodone.

The Drug Schedule

Before 2014, oxycodone and hydrocodone were under separate drug schedules. A drug schedule assigns a number to a chemical, medicine, or substance depending on its potential for abuse or accepted medical use. Today, hydrocodone and oxycodone are Schedule II drugs. This class of drugs has a high potential of being misused.

Dosing And Forms

Oxycodone and hydrocodone on pharmacist shelves are in combination with other chemicals and painkillers. In its pure form, oxycodone is sold as OxyContin. This tablet is available in different doses, and administration is based on the severity of the pain. Often, your doctor will prescribe one OxyContin tablet after every 12 hours for maximum effectiveness.

On the other hand, hydrocodone features an extended-release form, where the drug releases slowly into your body, allowing functionality over a prolonged period. In its pure form, hydrocodone is sold as Zohydro ER for treating long-term pains, and you can ingest it after every 12 hours.

The CDC reveals that 1 in 4 people that take long-term opioids in primary care will likely develop an addiction. This is because as one develops tolerance to the medication, they will need more doses, leading to abuse and misuse. The latter increases the risks of addiction in people using oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Oxycodone Vs. Hydrocodone Effectiveness

Oxycodone and hydrocodone are effective in pain management. Still, each will vary based on the person’s history using the drug, the drug’s form, and the dosage’s strength.

In an emergency, researchers confirm that these medications function equally. One study revealed pain relief among patients after 30 minutes of taking oxycodone and hydrocodone. However, hydrocodone patients experienced constipation.

Another study comparing the effectiveness of drug combinations highlighted a little difference in the oxycodone and acetaminophen and hydrocodone and acetaminophen combinations. The study found that the difference when both combinations were used to treat acute musculoskeletal pain was insignificant. In both clusters, a large percentage of the people reported up to 50% pain reduction.

However, the FDA warns against taking oxycodone and hydrocodone with acetaminophen as this increases drug overdose and liver damage risks compared to taking the opioids separately. Also, while hydrocodone and oxycodone are effective pain relievers, taking them will not resolve the underlying cause of the physical pain. Due to the high risks of addiction and dependence, most medical professionals will recommend other options before settling for oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The Cost Differences

As stated earlier, oxycodone and hydrocodone sell as brand-name drugs. Each of these brands features a generic alternative. For a drug to qualify as generic in the US, it must contain similar strength of active ingredients, but the inactive can vary.

Generic medications are often cheaper than the brand name, explaining why most people prefer them. However, before making this decision, you should talk to your doctor, as some generic versions of these opioids may have varying ratios of active and inactive ingredients. If you want to use the brand name but cannot afford it, liaise with your insurance to reduce the costs.

Side Effects Of Oxycodone And Hydrocodone

Prescription opioids alleviate certain types of pain from burn injuries and surgery. Opioids function by obstructing the nervous system by binding them to opioid receptors. As the opioid obstructs the signal between the body and the brain, the pain will reduce. An individual will also experience a slow breathing rate, causing respiratory distress. Oxycodone will manage pain effectively, but abuse will slow mental functions and affect the heart rate.

Other common side effects of oxycodone vs. hydrocodone include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Hives
  • Slowed breathing
  • Mental confusion
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling around the face
  • Irregular heartbeat

While the above side effects are popular for hydrocodone and oxycodone, hydrocodone will likely cause tiredness to an individual, while oxycodone side effects lay more on the digestive system.

Drug Interactions And Warnings

Discussing with your doctor all the medications and supplements you are taking is advisable to guide their oxycodone vs. hydrocodone recommendation. This is because certain drug combinations can increase the risks of serious side effects. For instance, taking these opioids with drugs that depress your nervous system will decrease your heart rate, breathing and even lead to a coma.

If pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also communicate with your doctor to avoid the possibility of congenital disabilities and passing the medication to your child during breastfeeding. Other drug interactions to look out for include:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Antihistamines
  • Parkinson’s disease drugs
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Sleep aids
  • Anti-nausea drugs
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Benzodiazepines and other sedatives

Interaction With Other Substances

Hydrocodone and oxycodone use alongside antidepressants can be fatal. Using psychoactive substances can cause a buildup of serotonin in the brain, affecting its normal functioning and causing acute side effects. Other supplements and nonprescription drugs you should keep off when consuming oxycodone vs. hydrocodone include:

  • Kava-kava
  • St John’s Wort
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana and cannabis products

Seek The Advice Of A Professional and Qualified Medical Officer

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are effective against acute and chronic pain and will exhibit similar side effects. The features and functionalities of these drugs are minimal. However, your doctor should guide your decision given the serious side effects and interactions with other drugs and substances.

Your doctor will evaluate your medical history, weigh each medicine’s pros and cons, and recommend what works for you. Most doctors start their patients on a smaller dose and check their body’s reaction as a safety measure. Where the medication does not work or exhibits adverse effects, your doctor will discuss further options and settle for what works for you.