Percocet vs. Hydrocodone: Differences Between Opioid Painkillers

Percocet vs. hydrocodone facts

What are Percocet and hydrocodone?

Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) is a combination of a strong narcotic pain reliever and cough suppressant, and a non-narcotic pain reliever and fever reducer. Oxycodone does not eliminate the sensation of pain but decreases discomfort by increasing tolerance to pain. It relieves pain by elevating the threshold of sensing pain. The combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen achieves greater pain relief than either taken separately.

Hydrocodone (Zohydro ER) is an opioid narcotic pain reliever similar to oxycodone, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, and other opioids. Hydrocodone, like other opioids, stimulates receptors on nerves in the brain to increase the threshold to pain and reduce the perception of pain. Hydrocodone is prescribed for the long-term treatment of severe pain for which other treatment options are not effective, not tolerated, or would most likely not be strong enough to adequately manage the pain. Hydrocodone is sometimes combined with other non-narcotic pain relievers such as aspirin or acetaminophen.

What are the side effects of Percocet and hydrocodone?

Percocet side effects

The most frequent adverse reactions of Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) include:

Other important side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Spasm of the ureter, which can lead to difficulty in urinating

Possible serious side effects include:

Oxycodone can depress breathing and, therefore, is used with caution in elderly, debilitated patients and in patients with serious lung disease. Oxycodone can impair thinking and the physical abilities required for driving or operating machinery.

Is Percocet addictive?

Oxycodone can be habit-forming. Mental and physical dependence can occur, but are unlikely when used for short-term pain relief.

Hydrocodone side effects

The most frequent adverse reactions include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Other side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Spasm of the ureter, which can lead to difficulty in urinating.

Other patient warnings include:

  • Hydrocodone can impair thinking and the physical abilities required for driving or operating machinery.
  • Hydrocodone can depress breathing, and should be used with caution in elderly, debilitated patients, and in patients with serious lung disease.

Is hydrocodone addictive?

Hydrocodone is habit forming. Mental and physical dependence can occur when used long-term.

What is the dosage of Percocet vs. hydrocodone?


  • The dose of Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen) is variable and depends on the needs of the patient and specific circumstances.
  • The usual dose is one tablet every six hours as needed.
  • The maximum oxycodone/acetaminophen dose is 60 mg/4 g per day.


  • The initial dose for adults is 10 mg orally every 12 hours.
  • The dose may be increased every 3 to 7 days by 10 mg every 12 hours as needed to control pain.
  • Capsules must be swallowed whole and not chewed.

What drugs interact with Percocet and hydrocodone?


  • Oxycodone, like other narcotic pain-relievers, increases the effect of drugs that slow brain function, such as alcohol, barbiturates, skeletal muscle relaxants, for example, carisoprodol (Soma), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). The combined use of muscle relaxants or benzodiazepines and oxycodone may lead to increased respiratory depression.
  • Since oxycodone causes constipation, the use of antidiarrheals, for example, diphenoxylate (Lomotil) and loperamide (Imodium), in persons taking oxycodone, can lead to severe constipation.
  • Drugs which stimulate and also block opioid receptors, for example, pentazocine, nalbuphine (Nubain), butorphanol (Stadol), and buprenorphine (Subutex) may reduce the effect of oxycodone and may precipitate withdrawal symptoms.
  • A fatty meal may increase the absorption of oxycodone by 27%.


  • Combining alcohol and other sedatives with hydrocodone can lead to increased sedation and even cause confusion.
  • Hydrocodone should not be taken with any of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class of antidepressants, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), selegiline (Eldepryl), and procarbazine (Matulane) or other drugs that inhibit monoamine oxidase, for example, linezolid (Zyvox). Such combinations may lead to confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death. Hydrocodone should not be administered within 14 days of stopping an MAOI.

Are Percocet and hydrocodone safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Safety of oxycodone/acetaminophen during pregnancy has not been established. Newborns of mothers who were taking oxycodone for a prolonged period may exhibit respiratory depression or withdrawal symptoms.

Small amounts of oxycodone are secreted in breast milk and may cause side effects in the newborn.

There are no adequate studies of hydrocodone in pregnant women.

Hydrocodone is excreted in breast milk, and, therefore should be used cautiously by nursing mothers.

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