Difference Between Hydrocodone and Vicodin

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 is a combination of Hydrocodone and other drugs.

Hydrocodone vs Vicodin

The main difference between Hydrocodone and Vicodin is that Hydrocodone is an opioid that can help relieve pain whereas Vicodin is a prescription drug that is administered in a combination of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen. Vicodin can be administered in combination with N-acetyl–p-aminophenol to give an almost similar level of relief. The prescription drug Vicodin is one of the most abused prescription drugs.

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 of time. 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 drugs. 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 Between Hydrocodone and Vicodin

Parameters of Comparison Hydrocodone  Vicodin 
Definition It is an opioid by nature. It is a prescription drug. 
Prescription It is generally 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 usually in combination with other drugs 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.

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

Other drugs such as aspirin can also be combined to form an immediate-release drug. With immense help, the drug comes with 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 worst cases coma or death.

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

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 purposes.

Marketed first in 1978 in the USA it has earned a reputation for itself. It is one of the most prescribed drugs for pain as well as the most abuse 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, mood swing to name a few. The efficacy of other analgesics has been proved to be equally good and they carry little to no side effects.

The immediate-release drug is often prescribed for post-operation drugs and has become a part of the tradition. Its widespread use owes to its use before the use of the 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 serious complications.

For patients with 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 be helpful in reducing pain but hydrocodone can be used to reduce pain and it also acts 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.


Hydrocodone and Vicodin both are drugs that have the potential to help a patient to rid themselves of pain caused due to injury or accident. Vicodin is a combination of Hydrocodone and, paracetamol or N-acetyl-p-aminophenol.

Vicodin is only prescribed to relieve pain but hydrocodone can be used to suppress cough with a certain combination. Hydrocodone can also be useful in pain relief but should be administered alone only in case of emergency.

With a bad reputation of abuse Vicodin’s viability can be questioned as non-opioid drugs show similar efficacy. The use of both drugs is not suggested in the case of a patient being a pregnant woman or a patient with a drug or alcohol abuse history.


  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

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