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Codeine Vs. Hydrocodone - What's the Difference?

Codeine Vs. Hydrocodone - What's the Difference?

Hydrocodone and codeine are both narcotic medications that are mainly used for managing pain and cough. Both of them are widely used as analgesics and cough inhibitors. Read more on this HealthHearty article to study the comparison between codeine and hydrocodone.
Sharmistha Sarkar
Codeine and hydrocodone are drugs regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Codeine is an opiate analgesic and cough inhibitor like hydrocodone. Codeine does not treat the cause of symptoms, but helps relieve symptoms. It is usually used to relieve mild pain. Codeine helps to relieve pain by changing the way in which the brain and central nervous system react to pain. It is also used in combination with other drugs to reduce coughing. Codeine helps relieve cough by suppressing the trigger in the nervous system that leads to coughing. On the other hand, hydrocodone is used to relieve people from severe pain and when other medications are ineffective. It is also an opiate pain-reliever, and helps relieve coughing by the same mechanism as codeine does.
Hydrocodone and codeine are manufactured from the same substance known as the opium poppy pods of the plant, Papaver Somniferum. Codeine is made from the substance that is present inside the pod. It is also derived from the drug, morphine. Hydrocodone is a partially synthetic opioid that is initially made with the constituents of the plant and then finally processed in a lab. So it is made from two substances; one is codeine and another is a chemical called thebaine. Hydrocodone is a stronger drug than codeine and for which it has more possibility of addiction, side effects and overdose potential.
Comparison
Preparation
Codeine is a naturally occurring opiate alkaloid found in poppies, hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid. Codeine is an opiate, which occurs naturally in the opium poppy and as such has a long history of human use.
Administration
Codeine and hydrocodone are administered orally. Codeine is often prescribed to be usually taken once every four to six hours. Hydrocodone is usually taken once every 12 hours. However, one needs to follow the directions given in the prescription label as per the doctor's advice.
Availability
Codeine formulations are available in the form of tablets and a solution to take orally. It can also be injected subcutaneously for pain relief, but this is rare as it can lead to dangerous effects.
Hydrocodone mostly comes as a capsule to take orally. It is also available in the form of syrup as a medication for relieving cough.
Side Effects
The side effects of codeine include dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, dry mouth, sedation, allergic reactions, constipation, abdominal pain, rash and itching.
The side effects of hydrocodone include nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness and spasm of the ureter.
Brands
Codeine is made with its sole ingredient or with other analgesics like aspirin. The popular names include Codate, Tylenol with codeine (Tylenol 3), Codaprin, and Codamol.
Hydrocodone is available in many brand names and/or generic forms. Popular names for the drug are Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Vicoprofen and Zohydro. It is mostly manufactured by combining with other drugs, especially acetaminophen. Other additives include analgesics such as acetaminophen/paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
Use
Codeine is used to inhibit cough, mild pain, diarrhea, and anxiety. It is also used as an antidepressant. It is also used to inhibit premature labor contractions, myocardial infarction, and has many other purposes.
Hydrocodone is also used to inhibit cough, but commonly used for relief of moderate to severe pain.
Drug Withdrawal
The withdrawal effects of codeine and hydrocodone can be painful, but not fatal. Codeine withdrawal is more painful and slower than that of Hydrocodone, which is easier and quicker. Opiate can be best withdrawn under the supervision of a medical professional.
The withdrawal side effects can be severe if one stops taking the drug all of a sudden. However, the side effects can be prevented if the drug is not stopped all at once, but the dosage is reduced gradually until the administration is stopped completely.
Law
Manufacture and sales of hydrocodone and codeine are regulated in the United States. They are illegal to buy without a license/prescription. In the United States, hydrocodone is a schedule II or schedule III drug, which is determined by the dose units. For example, Vicodin, that is made up of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is a less regulated, schedule III narcotic, as the acetaminophen reduces the dose of hydrocodone present in the pill. Codeine is a schedule III narcotic in the United States.
Abuse
Use of hydrocodone and codeine for a long period can result in mental or physical dependence and addiction. However, people with persistent pain should not stop using the narcotics for the fear of dependence. Mental addiction is less likely to happen when narcotics are used as a pain reliever.
Codeine and hydrocodone should never be used in higher doses or for longer than prescribed. They can lead to serious health issues even at regular doses. Most importantly, let your doctor know before you use these medications.