Codeine vs. Oxycodone: What is the Difference?
With the U.S. experiencing the severe consequences of the opioid epidemic, it’s only natural to expect that people will have questions about this class of drugs and what the effects are. Two often discussed opioids are codeine and oxycodone.
Below is an overview of codeine vs. oxycodone, along with answers to questions like “is codeine in oxycodone.”
Codeine can be given to patients to treat pain ranging from mild to moderate, and it also has antitussive effects, so it’s used in many cough syrups.
Like other opioids, oxycodone does have euphoric effects meaning that when people take it, they may feel high. This is why oxycodone carries an abuse potential, as do other opioids.
It also binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and depresses the activity of the CNS, including respiration. This is how it alters the sensation of pain, but the depressant effects of oxycodone and other opioids can be dangerous or deadly.
Oxycodone is available as an immediate-release medication and also as a controlled-release tablet, providing around-the-clock pain relief.
Some of the brand name drugs containing oxycodone include OxyContin, Percocet, and Endocet, among others.
Side effects possible with oxycodone include the sense of euphoria touched on above, relaxation, drowsiness, respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and constipation.
First, the similarities.
Both codeine and oxycodone are opioid pain relievers, and both have therapeutic pain-relieving benefits and are available by prescription only in the U.S. Both codeine and oxycodone also act as cough suppressants, and common effects of codeine and oxycodone can include sedation, drowsiness, and depressed respiration. Both are also often used in combination medications.
Both codeine and oxycodone bind to opioid receptors in the brain and both increase the pain tolerance of the user.
Codeine and oxycodone can lead to abuse and addiction, as well as physical dependence. A physical dependence to opioids like codeine or oxycodone means that after taking them for a period of time, the brain and body may become used to them or dependent on their presence. When someone then stops using them, even if they’ve been using them as prescribed, they may go through withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms of both codeine and oxycodone can include restlessness, yawning, sweating, dilated pupils and muscle pains.
Because of the respiratory depression caused by both codeine and oxycodone, an overdose can occur if breathing is slowed to a dangerous level from these medications, or stops altogether.
Neither codeine or oxycodone should be combined with certain substances including other opioids, benzodiazepines, and sleep aids, or alcohol. These substances can increase the chances of negative side effects or an overdose.
So what about the differences in codeine versus oxycodone?
First, a key difference in codeine compared to oxycodone is the fact that codeine is less potent. It can be prescribed to treat moderate pain, while oxycodone is a more potent opioid that is meant to be reserved for moderate to severe pain. As a result, codeine also has less of a potential for abuse and addiction as compared to oxycodone, although it’s still a very real possibility.
Another difference in codeine versus oxycodone is that oxycodone is available as an extended-release tablet, although this is intended only for people who already have an opioid tolerance. Otherwise, an overdose is possible.
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