Dilaudid vs. Oxycodone: Which is Better for Pain Management?

There are so many prescription painkillers available at this point that it can become confusing and even overwhelming to know the right option for you. The following provides an overview of two commonly prescribed drugs, Dilaudid (hydromorphone) and oxycodone.

Dilaudid vs. Oxycodone: Which is Better for Pain Management?
  • Both Dilaudid and oxycodone are strong painkillers available by prescription
  • They treat pain that won’t respond to over-the-counter pain medicines
  • Oxycodone is a narcotic analgesic that is potent but also has a high abuse potential
  • Dilaudid is hydromorphone hydrochloride, which is closely related to morphine
Dilaudid is usually stronger than equivalent doses of oxycodone. According to the World Health Organization’s three-step treatment ladder for cancer, the first step is a non-opioid medicine. The next step would be a mild opioid, like codeine. The final step is a powerful opioid, such as oxycodone or hydromorphone.

A few things to note about Dilaudid versus oxycodone, and the two drugs in general:

  • Hydromorphone is actually stronger than morphine, and it is faster-acting compared to other pain medicines, so there tends to be a higher potential for abuse than with oxycodone
  • Dilaudid tends to have fewer physical side effects, such as rashes, than morphine
  • Oxycodone tends to work well for breakthrough pain or as-needed, while the longer-lasting versions of the drug can provide around-the-clock pain relief
  • When looking at Dilaudid versus oxycodone, both can cause constipation, and in some cases, it can be severe
  • Dizziness and drowsiness are two common symptoms of both Dilaudid and oxycodone
  • Long-term of use of Dilaudid and oxycodone can lead to addiction and dependence

Finally, with both Dilaudid and oxycodone, the person using the drug will most likely need to be weaned off slowly if they’ve used it for more than two weeks. Doing so can avoid withdrawal symptoms.

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