Hydrocodone and oxycodone were both synthesized in Germany in the early 1900s. Hycodan was the original trade name for hydrocodone, but has since been marketed under hundreds of trademarks including Vicodin®, Lortab® and Lorcet®. These are examples of compounded products comprised of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Similarly, oxycondone is commonly compounded with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are available in tablet, capsule and syrup form, and is often prescribed in combination with less effective non-opioids.

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are very similar, in that they are both narcotic analagesics, but oxycondone is considerably more potent than hydrocodone. Oxycodone (Percocet®, Tylox®, Roxilox®) is slightly more regulated because of this, and as a result a written prescription from a physician for oxycodone is required, whereas hydrocodone can be prescribed from a physician verbally. Although both are highly addictive and habit forming, doctors often prescribe Vicodin® over Percocet®, the less potent of the two.

In addition to being narcotic analgesics (pain relievers), hydrocodone and oxycodone are also atitussives (cough suppressants). They are most commonly used to relieve moderate to moderate-to-severe to severe pain and can be prescribed to treat postpartum, postoperative and dental pain. They are semisynthetic opioids derived from codeine and thebaine, two naturally occurring opiates. Even though oxycondone is the stronger of the two, studies have shown that hydrocodone is stronger than codeine, but only fractionally as potent as morphine. However, the chemicial structure of hydrocodone is most similar to codeine, with effects most similar to morphine. As mentioned, oxycodone has many of the same uses as hydrocodone, but can also be prescribed for temporary relief of diarrhea. The main difference between them is potency. Additionally, the oxycodone brand OxyContin, unlike Vicodin, is comprised of only oxycodone as a time-release, single-ingredient oral medication.

As a drug of abuse, hydrocodone and oxycodone are used for their opioid effects. These include euphoria, sedation and somnolence or “drowsiness.” Due to its widespread availability, the recreational use of hydrocodone is particularly prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults. Many users can experience liver damage, jaundice and even liver failure because they are not aware of the acetaminophen found in hydrocodone and/or oxycodone. Consuming as little as 4 grams a day can result in this. Many are additionally unaware that consuming 10 to 15 grams of acetaminophen within a 24-hour period can result in severe hepatotoxicity (liver damage), and consuming 15 to 20 grams a day can be fatal. However, acetaminophen is water-soluble and many users avoid this issue by consuming large amounts of water.

Common short-term side effects include nausea, sweating, drowsiness, euphoria, vomiting and possible hospitalization, constipation, dizziness, itching, lightheadedness, and of course, possible hepatotoxicity. Other less common side effects include anxiety, lethargy, difficulty urinating, confusion, increased heartbeat, mood swings, rashes, allergic reactions, decreased testosterone levels in men, irregular menstrual cycles in women, and blood disorders. Overdosing on hydrocodone and oxycondone can result in respiratory problems, extreme drowsiness, dialated pupils, comas, seizures, cardiac arrest and death.

Like most opioids, long-term side effects of hydrocodone and oxycondone use can result in physical and psychological dependency. It can also lead to liver failure and long term hearing loss.

Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, cold or flu-like symptoms, fever, extreme anxiety and restlessness, loss of appetite, lethargy, irritability, tremors, panic, cramps, pins and needles, severe pain, nausea, depression and extreme drug cravings.

Hydrocodone / Oxycodone Street Names

  • Hydro
  • Norco
  • Blue
  • Hillbilly Heroin
  • Killers
  • Oc
  • Ox
  • Oxy
  • Oxy-Doffine
  • Oxycotton
  • Percs