Vicodin (Hydrocodone) vs Percocet (Oxycodone)

Vicodin and Percocet are types of prescription opioids. Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between these 2 drugs, including their intended uses, the risks of use and misuse, and how to get help if you or a loved one has lost control of their prescription drug use.

What Is Vicodin?

Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone (an opioid painkiller) and acetaminophen. The average dose of Vicodin in oral tablet form contains 500 mg of acetaminophen and 5 mg of hydrocodone. This drug has been the most prescribed medication in the United States since 2007, according to Forbes, and more than 135 million prescriptions were filled for it in 2012 alone.

In 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moved Vicodin from Schedule III to Schedule II. Interestingly, while Vicodin was originally classed as a Schedule III drug, hydrocodone alone was always Schedule II.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a combination opioid medication containing a pain reliever (oxycodone) and acetaminophen. The oral administration form of this drug is composed of 325 mg of acetaminophen and 2.5 mg of oxycodone.

This drug is often used to treat pain for chronic conditions, such as pain experienced by cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

Hydrocodone and Oxycodone: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between the opioid ingredients in these two drugs, hydrocodone and oxycodone, is strength. Oxycodone is considered to be more potent than hydrocodone. Thus, Percocet is stronger than Vicodin.

Both of these drugs have restrictions on them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in early 2016 urging physicians to scale back their prescribing practices when it comes to narcotic pain relievers like Vicodin and Percocet for patients with complaints of chronic pain.

Another change to prescribing practices back in 2014 limited physicians’ abilities to authorize refills for prescriptions containing hydrocodone.

According to the DEA, Vicodin and other prescription combinations containing hydrocodone were prescribed 70.9 million times in 2018 alone.

Who Uses These Drugs?

Addiction to hydrocodone, oxycodone, and other prescription opioids is a widespread issue that affects the entire nation and main contributor to the so-called “opioid epidemic.”

In 2020, an estimated 143 million opioid prescriptions were distributed across the U.S, according to CDC data. This number has slowly decreased over the years, from a staggering 255 million prescriptions at its height in 2012.

In 2012, the national opioid dispensing rate was 81.3 prescriptions per 100 people, meaning there were nearly enough prescriptions for every person in the country to have one.

Today the national dispensing rate is 43.3 prescriptions per 100 people, and while this is much lower than its peak rate in 2012, there are still many areas of the country with significantly higher rates than the national rate.

Risks of Vicodin and Percocet Misuse

The risks associated with misuse of Percocet and Vicodin are similar. Neither is necessarily worse than the other, and even when these medications are used as prescribed, side effects can occur.

The side effects of prescription opioids like Percocet and Vicodin can include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Confusion.
  • Itching.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation.
  • Slowed breathing.

In addition, acetaminophen brings its own set of potential risks. Misuse of acetaminophen can result in:

  • Liver failure.
  • Depletion of glutathione, an antioxidant that protects the body from infection and other toxins.
  • Ulcers in the stomach lining.
  • Cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.

Overdose Risks

Both Percocet and Vicodin carry a risk of overdose. An overdose occurs when a person takes too much of a drug and life-threatening symptoms arise.

The 3 main signs of an opioid overdose are:

  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Unconsciousness.
  • Difficulty breathing.

In 2020, an estimated 44 people died every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, totaling more than 16,000 deaths. That same year, prescription opioids accounted for nearly 24% of all opioid overdose deaths, a 16% increase from 2019, according to the CDC.

Narcan (naloxone) is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Many states allow people to obtain Narcan kits without a prescription.

Learn more about where to find a Narcan kit, how to use Narcan, and more.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, professional treatment can help. At Recovery First Treatment Center, we offer different types of addiction treatment designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

To learn more about the programs at our inpatient rehab near Miami, call us at . Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer your questions about ways to pay for rehab and using insurance to pay for rehab, and they can help you start treatment today.

You can also quickly check your insurance coverage by filling out this simple and secure .

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