OxyContin and Vicodin are both opioid medications used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone, the active ingredient in Vicodin, can also be prescribed to treat fever, inflammation, and cough. OxyContin is a long-acting form of Oxycodone and is typically prescribed for chronic or long-term pain, while Vicodin is generally prescribed for short-term or acute pain caused by surgery or an injury.
Vicodin is the combination of the pain medications hydrocodone and acetaminophen, and it works by changing the perception of pain and emotional response to pain. The average half-life of Vicodin is 3.9 hours, and withdrawal symptoms can start around six to twelve hours after the last dose. OxyContin works by reducing discomfort by increasing the tolerance to pain, and it also causes depression of respiration and sedation.
Both OxyContin and Vicodin are effective pain relievers and cough suppressants, with Vicodin providing an added benefit as a fever reducer. Studies have shown that the combination of OxyContin and Acetaminophen is 1.5 times more potent than Vicodin when taken at equal doses for pain relief. However, both drugs carry the risk of severe side effects.
Common side effects of OxyContin and Vicodin include nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, hives, changes in heartbeat, trouble breathing or swallowing, and swelling of the face, lips, and tongue. People who misuse these drugs may become anxious and confused, experience seizures or convulsions, or have a slowed heartbeat. Severe misuse may result in coma or death. Withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin and Vicodin can be unpleasant and may include anxiety and agitation, runny nose, insomnia, yawning, chills, muscle aches, sweating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cramps, muscle pain, or bone pain.
The best way to decide which medication is right for you is by having a conversation with your doctor. Based on your personal medical history, the doctor will weigh the pros and cons of the two drugs.