Codeine vs. Hydrocodone: What’s the Difference?

The Difference Between Codeine and Hydrocodone

Codeine and hydrocodone are both opioid pain medications that are used to treat pain and suppress the cough reflex in the brain. The difference between these two opioid pain medications is the chemical compounds that they are made from. Codeine is a natural opioid derived from the opium plant, whereas hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid, meaning it is partially man-made. 

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What Is Codeine?

Codeine is a prescription opioid prescribed to treat pain and cough symptoms. Codeine is considered a low potency opioid pain medication as most individuals who take codeine will mix it with acetaminophen to treat pain. Codeine is often used to relieve pain that is at a mild to moderate pain level. Although codeine does not have the same high potency rate as other opioid medications, there is still an increased risk of developing a codeine addiction, physical dependence on codeine, and an increased risk of opioid overdose.

Learn about the strongest opioids here:

List of Opioids From Strongest to Weakest

Side Effects of Codeine

  1. Stomach cramps 
  2. Constipation 
  3. Dry mouth 
  4. Decrease in blood pressure 
  5. Dizziness 
  6. Blurred vision 
  7. Seizures

When individuals engage in long-term codeine addiction and substance abuse, the following side effects can occur: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Memory impairment 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle spasms or pains 
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of death

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone has differences and similarities to codeine. Hydrocodone is a prescription opioid used to treat pain and is often combined with acetaminophen to enhance pain relief. Hydrocodone is more potent than codeine and treats moderate and severe pain levels. Due to hydrocodone being a powerful prescription painkiller, the risk of developing a physical dependence on hydrocodone is high. Hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II Drug known to be highly addictive, leading many to develop substance use disorders. 

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

When someone living with substance abuse is engaging in hydrocodone abuse, there is an increased risk of experiencing moderate to severe side effects of hydrocodone abuse. Common side effects individuals will experience are: 

  1. Stomach pain 
  2. Headache 
  3. Back pain 
  4. Muscle tightening 
  5. Difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep 
  6. Dry mouth 
  7. Vomiting 
  8. Shallow or light breathing 
  9. Irregular heartbeat 

Misuse of Codeine and Hydrocodone

While your use of codeine and hydrocodone may have begun initially as a method to treat chronic pain and or treat an ongoing pain syndrome, there is a high risk of your prescription painkiller use turning into a substance use disorder. Due to these substances being opioid painkillers, there is a higher risk of developing a physical dependence which can result in individuals experiencing moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit their substance abuse.

Individuals will often feel unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can be challenging to manage without the support of a drug rehab program. These withdrawal symptoms will often tempt individuals to return to their drug abuse to mitigate the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. Seeking support from a Florida rehab facility, renowned for its effective treatment programs, can be a crucial step. Hydrocodone and codeine addiction treatment offered at such facilities will support individuals in managing the moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms and allow them to begin their recovery journey to overcome their substance use disorders.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at WhiteSands

At WhiteSands’ treatment centers, our medical professionals and addiction counselors will support you as you take the courageous and necessary steps to understand your prescription painkiller substance abuse history. Before beginning a drug rehab program, patients are encouraged to initially participate in a medical detox program to overcome the physical dependence on codeine and hydrocodone. 

Throughout drug rehab, patients are invited to participate in evidence-based therapy approaches that will support them in healing from the underlying emotions and traumas that have influenced their addictive behaviors. We will also teach them the life skills and tools for relapse prevention to help them maintain their life in addiction recovery. Contact WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab Tampa today to answer any of your questions about drug rehab and the treatment programs offered within our treatment centers.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.