Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone: What’s the Difference?

oxycodone and hydrocodone pills

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are both Schedule II drugs and prescription opioid painkillers, but what is the difference between oxycodone and hydrocodone? And do they have any similarities? In this blog, we’ll discuss the uses of both drugs, as well as side effects, withdrawal, addiction, and opioid detox treatment.

What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic that is found in drugs like OxyContin and Percocet. It’s only legally available with a prescription and is used in several different forms, including a liquid, concentrated solution, tablet, or capsule.1,2 Oxycodone is meant to be taken exactly as directed by a doctor because it can cause intense feelings of euphoria and relaxation. This explains its high risk for dependence and abuse.

Oxycodone is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the U.S. In 2016, 5 billion oxycodone tablets were distributed in the United States.3 Many people who start taking oxycodone for pain relief end up developing a tolerance and start taking higher doses to relieve their pain, which can eventually lead to dependence and addiction. Other people who abuse oxycodone for the high typically crush the tablets and sniff the powder or dissolve the tablets in water and inject it. They may also heat the tablet in foil and then inhale the vapors to get high.

How Long Will Oxycodone Stay in My System?

Several factors will affect how long oxycodone stays in your system, including:

  • Your metabolism
  • Body mass, body fat, and weight
  • Age
  • Amount of water in the body
  • Liver and kidney health
  • How often oxycodone is used

Usually, the effects of oxycodone can be felt within 10 to 30 minutes of taking it and they typically last about three to six hours, depending on the person.12 Oxycodone use can also be detected by different types of drug tests for various lengths of time. The chart below is an estimation of how long oxycodone can be detected in your system.

Drug Testing for Oxycodone

Urine testDetectable for 3-4 days
Blood testDetectable up to 24 hours
Saliva testDetectable for 1-4 days
Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-oxycodone-stay-in-your-system-80297

Signs of Oxycodone Addiction

If you or a loved one has been taking oxycodone to treat pain or for recreational purposes, you may become addicted. Signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction include:

  • Feeling ashamed of your oxycodone use or hiding it from friends and loved ones
  • Having financial problems due to oxycodone abuse
  • Having cravings for oxycodone
  • Using oxycodone to cope with life problems
  • Prioritizing your oxycodone use above all other responsibilities
  • Suffering from problems at work, school, or home due to oxycodone abuse
  • Needing oxycodone to function normally throughout the day
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of oxycodone wear off
Talk to a Treatment Expert - (512) 605-2955

    Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

    If you are physically dependent or addicted to oxycodone and suddenly stop taking it, you will experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will vary depending on how much oxycodone was used, the method in which it was abused, and how long it was abused. Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms typically include:4

    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Sweating
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Insomnia
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Irritability

    Oxycodone withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and even dangerous. Oxycodone detox at a Austin medical detox center like Briarwood can help addicted individuals get sober in a comfortable environment and without the risk of facing an unexpected medical emergency at home.

    What Is Hydrocodone?

    Hydrocodone is a cough suppressant and a narcotic analgesic, sold under the brand names Vicodin and Norco, among others. It produces effects that are very similar to morphine and is only legally available with a prescription.

    Like oxycodone, hydrocodone is a powerful opioid that changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, producing feelings of calmness, relaxation, and euphoria.5 Hydrocodone has a high risk for dependence and abuse and is classified as a Schedule II drug by the DEA.6

    According to a recent report by CNN, hydrocodone (Vicodin) was the most widely prescribed opioid between 2007 and 2016 and 6.2 billion hydrocodone pills were distributed nationwide in 2016. The second most prevalent opioid drug in the U.S. in 2016 was oxycodone (Percocet).3

    How Long Will Hydrocodone Stay in My System?

    There are many factors that affect how long an opioid like hydrocodone stays in your system. Some of these factors include:

    • Your metabolism
    • Body mass, body fat, and weight
    • Age
    • Amount of water in the body
    • Liver and kidney health
    • How often hydrocodone is used

    The effects of hydrocodone can typically be felt about 10 to 30 minutes after it is taken and they usually last about 4 to 8 hours. However, this may vary from person to person.7 Drug tests can also be used to detect hydrocodone use. The following chart provides estimates for how long hydrocodone may be detectable.

    Drug Testing for Hydrocodone

    Urine testDetectable up to 4 days
    Saliva testDetectable for 12-36 hours
    Hair follicle testDetectable up to 90 days

    Source:  https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-hydrocodone-stay-in-your-system

    Signs of Hydrocodone Addiction

    Many people become addicted to hydrocodone, even if they initially began using it to treat pain. Of course, recreational abuse of hydrocodone can also cause addiction. According to WebMD, some of the common signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction include:8

    • Using more hydrocodone or taking it longer than intended
    • Being unable to cut back on hydrocodone use
    • Continuing to use hydrocodone despite the mental, physical, and social problems it causes
    • Having strong urges and cravings to use hydrocodone
    • Spending large amounts of time getting hydrocodone, using it, or recovering from use
    • Needing more hydrocodone to achieve the same effects
    • Having withdrawal symptoms when hydrocodone use stops suddenly

    Hydrocodone Withdrawal Symptoms

    If you or a loved one is addicted to hydrocodone, you will experience uncomfortable physical symptoms when you stop using it suddenly. These physical symptoms are called withdrawal. The length and severity of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on how much hydrocodone was used, in what method, and for how long, but they typically include:9

    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia
    • Irritability
    • Sweating
    • Muscle aches

    Detoxing from an opioid like hydrocodone at home can be dangerous, especially if an unexpected medical emergency arises. Hydrocodone detox at a medical detox center will provide round-the-clock medical and clinical supervision during drug detox and withdrawal, for a safe and comfortable hydrocodone detox experience.

    Oxycodone Uses vs. Hydrocodone Uses

    The main differences between oxycodone and hydrocodone use are the ways in which they are prescribed with other medications.13

    Hydrocodone can be combined with ibuprofen to bring a fever down or to relieve inflammation, as well as expectorants and decongestants to suppress a cough or treat nasal congestion.Oxycodone can be combined with acetaminophen to treat fever, pain, and inflammation.

    Oxycodone is not intended to get people high. Instead, it is meant to be used medically to treat moderate to severe pain in people who need pain relief round the clock. Unfortunately, even those who use oxycodone as directed by a doctor may become tolerant or dependent after just one full week of use. The risk of dependence and addiction will vary based on several different factors, but oxycodone should always be taken with care.

    Hydrocodone is prescribed by doctors to treat people suffering from moderate to severe pain. Although the drug is effective in treating pain, many people get hooked on the feelings of euphoria they feel when taking hydrocodone. This can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Tolerance (needing more of the drug to achieve the same effects) can also lead a person to start taking higher or more frequent doses of hydrocodone, which can also cause dependence and addiction.

    Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone: Pain Relief

    In terms of the potency of oxycodone and hydrocodone for pain relief, it is not quite clear which drug is more effective. Although both oxycodone and hydrocodone are medically used for pain relief, one study found that oxycodone is about 50 percent more potent than hydrocodone.10 However, another study found that an equal amount of either oxycodone or hydrocodone provided the same amount of pain relief and argued that there is little difference between the two when they are used for that purpose.11

    Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone: Addiction and Dependence

    Both oxycodone and hydrocodone can cause physical dependence and addiction with ongoing abuse. However, according to one 2013 study, opioid abusers preferred either oxycodone or hydrocodone for different reasons.14

    Why Do Opioid Abusers Prefer Either Oxycodone or Hydrocodone?
    Opioid abusers who preferred oxycodone said it provides a better-quality high.Opioid abusers who preferred hydrocodone said it is easier to get than oxycodone.

    Although the study cited above found that oxycodone is the more popular choice for abuse, both drugs are the most commonly abused prescription and abused opioids in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oxycodone and hydrocodone are also two of the most common opioids involved in U.S. opioid deaths.15

    Oxycodone vs. Hydrocodone: Side Effects

    Oxycodone and hydrocodone have similar side effects, but the main differences have to do with the more serious physical side effects that each drug causes.16,17

    Side Effects of Oxycodone AbuseSide Effects of Hydrocodone Abuse 
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Dizziness
    • Vision problems
    • Depression
    • Seizures
    • Low blood pressure
    • Dry mouth
    • Constipation
    • Insomnia
    • Muscle aches and cramps
    • Swelling in the limbs
    • Heart failure
    • Coma
    • Death
    ·  Nausea


    ·  Vomiting

    ·  Difficulty breathing

    ·  Dizziness

    ·  Impaired cognitive abilities

    ·  Impaired coordination

    ·  Vision and hearing problems

    ·  Depression

    ·  Confusion

    ·  Seizures

    ·  Slowed heartbeat

    ·  Anxiety

    ·  Jaundice

    ·  Liver damage

    ·  Coma

    ·  Death

    Get Oxycodone Addiction Treatment or Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Today

    If you or a loved one is addicted to painkillers like oxycodone or hydrocodone, you should seek opioid addiction treatment immediately. The long-term effects of hydrocodone addiction and oxycodone addiction come with serious physical and mental side effects that should not be ignored. A comprehensive opioid addiction treatment program typically begins with a medical opioid detox program that is designed to fit your individual needs. This will help you overcome your physical dependence on the drug and prepare for entry into an inpatient or outpatient rehab program for opioid addiction.

    Start an oxycodone detox or hydrocodone detox program today at Briarwood Detox Center. Just call our admissions team to get started.


    1. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/oxycodone
    2. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html
    3. https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/18/health/opioid-crisis-fast-facts/index.html
    4. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/oxycodone-withdrawal/
    5. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a614045.html
    6. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf
    7. http://www.painphysicianjournal.com/current/pdf?article=MTQ4Mg%3D%3D&journal=62
    8. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/painkillers-and-addiction-narcotic-abuse#1
    9. https://www.healthline.com/health/understanding-hydrocodone-addiction#treatment
    10. https://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(08)00411-0/fulltext
    11. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1197/j.aem.2004.12.005
    12. https://books.google.com/books?id=T88C-9VTDXMC&pg=PA195#v=onepage&q&f=false
    13. https://www.medicinenet.com/oxycodone_vs_hydrocodone/article.htm
    14. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/resource-centers/pain/opioid-abusers-prefer-hydrocodone-oxycodone-for-different-reasons
    15. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/effects-of-hydrocodone-abuse/
    16. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/effects-of-oxycodone-abuse/

    Get Help Now

      Call Now Button