Codeine & Hydrocodone – Similarities & Differences

Codeine vs HydrocodoneThe United States Drug Enforcement Agency, or USDA, recognizes both Codeine and Hydrocodone as having a medical use. Both are considered narcotics and are prescribed to help with pain or provide relief from a cough. One big difference between the two is how they are produced. Codeine is an opiate that occurs naturally.

It is one of the most widely used narcotics in the world. That’s how popular this naturally occurring opiate is. Hydrocodone on the other hand is a semi synthetic. According to Wikipedia semi synthetic means it is a type of chemical synthesis that uses compounds in natural sources as starting materials. These sources include things such as plant material and cell cultures.

The delivery method for both medications is orally. You can get Codeine as either a capsule, liquid solution or tablet. You can usually only get Hydrocodone as a tablet. Both have the same prescription parameters and should be taken as prescribed which is usually once every 4 to 6 hours.

When it comes to their effectiveness both are deemed as highly effective for treating acute severe pain. However, if you have long term chronic pain, they aren’t as effective. Over time they will pretty much stop working. As far as dosing goes you should speak with your doctor.

Now lets talk about the side effects of these two opioids. Both have quite a few you should be aware of. Some of the main side effects include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irregular periods
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Other long term side effects include:

  • Decrease in testosterone for men
  • An immune system that doesn’t function properly
  • More pain
  • Inability to perform sexually
  • Loss of interest in sex all together

As you can see, both short term and long term use can have quite a few negative side effects. Long term use is what can eventually lead to addiction. However, people who really need these medications to help control pain and have a prescription for it rarely become addicted. It is those who abuse the drug, and don’t need it that have the most problems.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency gives all controlled substances a classification. The lower the number the higher the potential for abuse. Codeine is considered a Schedule II narcotic. This means it has a high potential for abuse. It has an accepted medical use in the United States but may have severe restrictions. Abuse of Codeine can lead to several physical and psychological problems.

Hydrocodone on the other hand is classified as a Schedule III narcotic. This basically means while it has a potential for abuse, that potential is not as high as Schedule II narcotics such as Codeine.

Many people who take these medications are afraid they may become addicted. The exact risk of becoming addicted to these pain pills is not currently known. However, there are certain factors that will increase your chances. Some of them include a drug problem in the past, alcohol problems in the past, depression in the past and other mental disorders just to name a few.

If you are addicted to either one of these drugs you will go through a withdrawal phase if you are trying to get off. The withdrawal from Codeine is far worse than that of Hydrocodone. However, withdrawal from both can lead to a lot of pain. The good news is getting the drugs out of your system is not a threat to your life. Those who have went through withdrawals from both agree withdrawal from Codeine is far more worse and far more painful. They say withdrawing from Hydrocodone is quicker and easier. If you are going through this type of withdrawal it is best to do it in a supervised setting. It is best to do it under the care of a medical professional.

That way if you need additional medications to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal the doctor can immediately administer them. By dealing with the withdrawal symptoms immediately you will increase your chances of successfully getting off the drug.

Overall these two medications are nothing you want to play with. If you don’t have a prescription don’t take them. If you do have a prescription, consider purchasing generic brands to help save a little money. And when compared, generic brands are actually the better option. Stay away from high doses and extended release versions. They can prove to be quite expensive.