Hydrocodone vs Vicodin: Difference and Comparison

Prescription drugs can be confusing at times as they are suggested in combination. Different combinations provide different effects and produce a particular type of effect.

Analgesics are prescription drugs intended to lower pain, but they come in varieties. Hydrocodone and Vicodin are two drugs that deliver the same effect, but Vicodin combines Hydrocodone and other drugs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Hydrocodone, an opioid analgesic, effectively relieves moderate to severe pain, while Vicodin, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, enhances pain relief and reduces fever.
  2. Both medications can cause dependence and addiction, necessitating careful monitoring and dosage control by healthcare professionals.
  3. Side effects for both drugs include drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, and nausea; however, Vicodin may cause additional side effects related to acetaminophen, such as liver damage, when taken in excessive amounts.

Hydrocodone vs Vicodin

Hydrocodone blocks pain perception by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen used to treat moderate to severe pain, binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord to block pain perception.

Hydrocodone vs Vicodin

An opioid by nature, Hydrocodone is used as a cough suppressant and also acts as a pain relief drug when administered in certain combinations and forms.

It can be administered alone if the pain is severe and is persistent for a long period. The combination of the drug is taken orally and is required only if the pain is of the degree that requires opioids.

Vicodin is a prescription drug that is a combination of two pills. One is hydrocodone, and the other could be any of the two, i.e. N-acetyl-p-aminophenol or Acetaminophen. It is one of the most abused prescription drugs in the history of the USA.

It can be used to relieve pain, but due to its opioid content, it can be misused. It must be done away with as soon as the prescription ends, as it could lead to addiction if taken for a prolonged period.

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Hydrocodone  Vicodin 
Definition It is an opioid by nature. It is a prescription drug. 
Prescription It is not prescribed alone. It is prescribed alone however it is a combination. 
Effects It can help to reduce pain and cough. It can only be used to give relief from pain. 
Combination It can be combined with multiple drugs to give different results. It can be given in two forms only. 
Part It is independent and can work as a drug on its own. It is not independent and must have hydrocodone as one component. 

What is Hydrocodone?

It is an orally administered drug, in combination with other medications to get different results. Usually, in its liquid combined with homatropine methyl bromide, it acts as a cough relief drug, and with other combinations, it acts as a pain relief package.

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It can be combined with acetaminophen, which is called paracetamol in general language, and to relieve pain, and the specific name of the prescription is Vicodin.

Other drugs, such as aspirin, can also be combined to form an immediate-release drug. With immense help, the drug has some side- effects such as nausea, vomiting, anxiety, etc.

Nausea can be cured by bed rest with minimal movement for an hour or two. The drug can be administered to patients with immense and prolonged pain without any combination, but such use must be considered in an emergency.

It should not be administered to pregnant ladies and patients who consume other opioids or alcohol. For patients with a history of addiction, it may cause low breathing, low heart rate, or, in the worst cases, coma or death.

The drug can also be abused and become lethal in extreme cases if the person doesn’t stop their intake in time. The drug must be taken as per the prescription of the doctor.

hydrocodone scaled

What is Vicodin?

The prescription drug comes in two combinations. When hydrocodone is combined with paracetamol or N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, it takes the form of Vicodin, which is used for pain relief.

Marketed first in 1978 in the USA, it has earned a reputation for itself. It is one of the most prescribed drugs for pain and the most abused prescription drug in the history of the USA.

With no literary evidence to prove its claimed better efficacy than a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, its overprescription remains debatable.

It can have severe side effects as it contains Hydrocodone, which carries side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dry throat, and mood swings. The efficacy of other analgesics has been proven to be equally good, and carry little to no side effects.

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The immediate-release drug is prescribed for post-operation medications and has become a part of the tradition. Its widespread use owes to its use before the use of non-opioid drugs was even known.

The drug became a well-known drug among doctors as it provided instant relief. Given its popularity, it is still not a prescribed drug for pregnant women and people with a history of addiction, as it may lead to severe complications.

For patients with an alcohol or drug abuse history, it may prove lethal and can cause serious issues such as death or coma owing to the presence of Hydrocodone.


Main Differences Between Hydrocodone and Vicodin

  1. Hydrocodone is an opioid and acts like a drug in rare cases, whereas Vicodin is a prescription drug used to relieve pain.
  2. Hydrocodone can be combined with hosts of other drugs to get the desired effect whereas Vicodin can only be used to cure pain in its two combinations.
  3. Vicodin can only help reduce pain but hydrocodone can be used to reduce pain and act as a cough depressant in a certain combination.
  4. Hydrocodone forms a part of the Vicodin prescription drug and is vital whereas Hydrocodone is an independent drug.
  5. Hydrocodone is administered alone only if the pain is prolonged but, in most cases, it is prescribed in combination whereas Vicodin is a popular pain depressant.
  1. https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(16)30415-9/abstract
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002251931930373X
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037687160800197X
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584606001011

Last Updated : 30 June, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Hydrocodone vs Vicodin: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This was a good article, I didn’t know that there were these many differences between these two. Great when you need to understand the prescription drugs.


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