Understanding Opioids: Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?

Get answers to questions like “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone?” and “what are these medications used for?”


Opioids are a class of drugs used to treat severe pain. Oxycodone and hydrocodone are two common types of opioids. 

Many people wonder “Is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone?” The answer is not straightforward, as both have powerful effects on the body and brain.
is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone

Importance of Understanding the Effects of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Understanding the effects of oxycodone and hydrocodone is important for anyone prescribed these medications. Misuse can lead to addiction and other serious health problems. 

What to Expect from This Article

This article aims to provide a detailed comparison between the two drugs, including their:
  • Uses
  • Side effects
  • Potential for addiction
  • Impacts on the body and brain
Read on for a more detailed answer to “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone?”

Is Oxycodone Stronger Than Hydrocodone?: Overview of Opioid Medications

Opioids are a group of medications used to treat severe pain. Doctors often prescribe them for pain after surgery or for chronic conditions like cancer. 
These medications work by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body. This helps to block the feeling of pain. However, they can also have strong effects on the mind and body, and misuse can lead to serious problems, including addiction.1

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a type of opioid medication. It’s often prescribed to manage severe pain. The medication works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. 

However, it also has the potential to produce feelings of euphoria, especially if taken in ways not prescribed by a doctor.2

This can lead some people to misuse it and develop a substance use disorder as well.

What is Hydrocodone?

Like oxycodone, hydrocodone is also an opioid medication used to treat severe pain. It is often prescribed for similar conditions as oxycodone. Hydrocodone works by changing how the brain and nervous system perceive pain. 

But, like oxycodone, it also has the potential to produce feelings of euphoria and other addictive effects.3
This also plays a part in the comparison between oxycodone and hydrocodone, which we’ll explore in depth later in this article.

Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?: Impact on the Brain and Body

Below is a comparison of these two drugs’ impact on the brain and body.

How Oxycodone Affects the Brain and Body

Oxycodone works by interacting with opioid receptors in the brain and body. It changes how your brain perceives pain, which helps to reduce feelings of discomfort. It also affects other parts of the brain that control feelings of pleasure, which can lead to a sense of euphoria, or a “high.” 
Over time, the body can become used to the presence of oxycodone and may need more of it to achieve the same effects. This can lead to physical dependence, where the body relies on the drug to function normally.
Oxycodone can also have physical side effects. These can include slowed breathing, drowsiness, and constipation. In serious cases, oxycodone can lead to overdose and even death.

How Hydrocodone Affects the Brain and Body

Like oxycodone, hydrocodone also interacts with opioid receptors in the brain and body. It works in a similar way to reduce pain and can also produce feelings of euphoria. The body can also become used to hydrocodone over time, leading to physical dependence.
Hydrocodone has similar physical side effects to oxycodone. These can include drowsiness, constipation, and slowed breathing. Misuse can also lead to serious problems like overdose.

Comparing the Effects of Both Drugs on the Brain and Body

Is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone in terms of effects? Both oxycodone and hydrocodone work in similar ways to manage pain and can cause similar side effects. They both have the potential to cause physical dependence and can be misused for their euphoric effects. 

So, is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone? While both have similar effects, they may affect individuals differently depending on factors, such as:

  • Dosage
  • Individual tolerance
  • How long they have been taken

Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?: Common Uses

Below is an overview of common uses for each medication.

When Oxycodone Gets Prescribed

Oxycodone is often prescribed for conditions that cause significant discomfort, such as pain after surgery or injury. Sometimes, it’s used to manage pain in individuals with chronic conditions, like cancer. 
It’s important to remember that oxycodone should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider due to its potential for misuse and the serious health problems it can cause.

When Hydrocodone Gets Prescribed

Hydrocodone can be prescribed for similar reasons as oxycodone. Hydrocodone is sometimes combined with other medications, like acetaminophen, to enhance its pain-relieving effects. 
Like oxycodone, it should be used only as directed by a healthcare provider.

Comparing the Use Cases of Both Drugs

While both drugs work in similar ways to relieve pain, there can be differences in the way they are prescribed, such as the dosage or the combination with other medications. 
It’s also important to note that how one drug affects an individual can be different from how it affects another, due to personal factors like:
  • Overall health
  • Age
  • Other medications they may be taking

Symptoms of Addiction

Is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone in terms of addiction symptoms? Below is a comparison of their addiction symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Oxycodone Addiction

Some common signs of oxycodone addiction include:
  • Taking more oxycodone than intended
  • Failing to cut down or stop using it despite experiencing adverse effects
  • Spending a lot of time finding, taking, or recovering from oxycodone
  • Continuing to use it even when it causes problems in life
Physical symptoms can also include feeling sick when trying to stop using it, needing more to get the same effect, and experiencing changes in sleep or appetite.4

Common Symptoms of Hydrocodone Addiction

Hydrocodone addiction can also cause similar symptoms.  Physical symptoms can include:5
  • Feeling sick when trying to stop using it
  • Needing more to get the same effect
  • Experiencing changes in sleep or appetite

Comparing the Symptoms of Addiction to Both Drugs

The symptoms of addiction to oxycodone and hydrocodone are very similar because both are opioids that affect the brain in similar ways. 
It’s not so much a matter of “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone,” but rather how the individual is taking the substances and their personal risk factors. 
Both can lead to powerful cravings and can interfere with daily life. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to seek help right away.

Analysis of the Potency of Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Oxycodone and hydrocodone have similar structures, with the key difference being that oxycodone has an extra oxygen atom​. Both drugs are semi-synthetic, meaning they are made in a lab using natural opioids. 
Oxycodone is synthesized from thebaine, while hydrocodone is derived from codeine. While oxycodone is only used to relieve pain, hydrocodone also retains cough-suppressant properties. This is why it’s often found in combination with other non-opioid analgesics like acetaminophen​​.

Determining Which Drug is Stronger and Why

The question “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone” may seem simple, but the answer is quite nuanced. 
Both drugs have been found equally effective at relieving acute severe pain, such as that following a fracture and cancer-related pain​.

Differences in Side Effects

There does seem to be a difference when it comes to side effects. People taking hydrocodone are often more likely to experience constipation than those taking oxycodone​​. 
Additionally, oxycodone was found to be more likely to be abused than hydrocodone due to a higher likeability score amongst those who used the substances​​.6

So, Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?

While oxycodone and hydrocodone are similar in strength when it comes to pain relief, their side effects and potential for misuse may impact how they are perceived and used. 
It’s important to note that the strength of a drug doesn’t necessarily correlate with its safety or appropriateness for every individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Which Substance Is More Dangerous?

“Danger” refers to the risk of harmful side effects, the potential for addiction, and the chance of an overdose. 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s body reacts differently to medications. What’s safe for one person might be more dangerous for another.

Risks Associated with Oxycodone and Hydrocodone

Oxycodone and hydrocodone are both powerful pain relievers. They work well for short-term pain, but if you take them for more than a couple of months, your body can develop a tolerance for the substance.
Both medications can cause side effects such as:
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness​​.
Hydrocodone may make you feel tired, while oxycodone is more likely to make you drowsy or constipated​​.

Which Drug is More Dangerous?

As mentioned above, oxycodone was found to be more likely to be abused than hydrocodone​​. This doesn’t necessarily mean that oxycodone is more “dangerous,” but it does suggest a higher risk of misuse.
It’s crucial to remember that both drugs should be taken as prescribed by a healthcare professional, who will consider many factors, including your age, the cause and severity of your pain, and your risk for addiction and abuse​​.

Risk Factors for Substance Use Disorder

People of all ages and backgrounds can develop an addiction to opioids. Below are some key risk factors:
  • Duration: Taking these medications for more than a few months can lead to tolerance, which can further lead to addiction.
  • Genetics: Individuals with a family history of addiction may be at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder themselves.
  • Mental Health: Those suffering from conditions such as depression or anxiety often have a higher risk of addiction.
  • Environment: Stressful or unstable environments can increase the risk of addiction.

Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?: Addiction Treatment Options

The journey toward overcoming addiction can be challenging, but a variety of treatment options exist for those grappling with oxycodone and hydrocodone addiction. 
Both of these drugs are potent opioids, but the question of “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone?” seems to depend more on the individual’s response to each medication than the inherent properties of the drugs themselves.

Common Treatments for Addiction

The first step in treating addiction to both medications often involves detoxification, where the individual stops taking the drug so that it can be eliminated from the body. This process is often supervised by medical professionals who can manage withdrawal symptoms. 

After detoxification, a variety of treatments can be employed, including:
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • Contingency management (CM)
  • Medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone

Comparing Treatment Options for Addiction to Both Drugs

The treatment options for oxycodone and hydrocodone addiction are similar, as both involve the use of opioids. This similarity allows treatment centers to employ the same strategies for both drugs. 
It’s important to remember that each person’s journey to recovery is unique, and the effectiveness of a specific treatment can vary from person to person.
is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone

Is Oxycodone Stronger than Hydrocodone?: Getting Help at Rockland Recovery

Rockland Recovery, a treatment center based in Massachusetts, specializes in helping individuals achieve long-term sobriety from substances including opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. 

Our center incorporates key factors such as:

At Rockland Recovery, patients are treated with the utmost respect and dignity as they work to overcome their addictions.

Importance of Respect and Dignity

At Rockland Recovery, we understand that addiction is a disease that many people need support to heal from. It’s not about what you’ve done in the past, but what you’re willing to do now to make necessary changes to better your life. 

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Treatment for opioid addiction is a serious and challenging process. But, with the right support and resources, recovery is possible. 

It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider or treatment specialist to determine the most appropriate course of action for each individual.

Contact Rockland Recovery Today

It’s time to stop delaying and let Rockland Recovery help you get your life back​​.

Reach out to Rockland Recovery for answers to questions like “is oxycodone stronger than hydrocodone?”

Table of Contents

Contact Rockland Recovery Treatment to Learn More

Our team is standing by to discuss treatment options with you. Your call is completely confidential and no obligation is required.