Vicodin vs. Oxycodone vs. Percocet: What's the difference?

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Difference between Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percocet

A narcotic is a psychoactive compound mixed with opioids like heroin and morphine to relieve a patient of severe pain. As narcotics may be used for drug abuse as well, their manufacture, import, possession, use and distribution processes are regulated by law and monitored by the authorities in each state. In the United States, laws refer to the Controlled Substances Act enacted into law in 1970 by the Congress of the United States. In Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is in place.

Vicodin, oxycodone and percocet are some of the narcotic based drugs currently used for medical purposes.


Vicodin is the brand name of an analgesic narcotic based product containing hydrocodone and paracetamol. Vicodin can be found in tablet form. The product is classified as a Schedule III drug according to the Controlled Substances Act in the United States meaning that it may cause low to moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence.

Oxycodone is an opioid analgesic drug synthesized from thebaine – an opium alkaloid. It was formulated in 1916 in Germany and was designed to be an alternative for morphine, heroin and codeine in use for medical purposes at the time. It is currently available as a single ingredient compound or multiple ingredients compound usually mixed with paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Percocet is the brand name for an oxycodone and paracetamol blend tablets marketed by the North American company Endo Pharmaceuticals.


Vicodin is prescribed in cases where patients experience moderate to severe pain related to acute or chronic diseases or post-operative pain. Pregnant women are strongly cautioned against using Vicodin during their pregnancy as it can lead to dependence for the offspring. After birth the baby could show withdrawal symptoms like excessive crying, tremors, irritability and fever.

Oxycodone can be used in cases of diabetic neuropathy, osteoarthritis, unilateral total knee arthroplasty, abdominal and gynecological surgeries and postherpetic neuralgia. It can also replace oral morphine for relieve patients suffering from pain associated with cancer.

Percocet is prescribed for patients experiencing moderate to severe pain resulting to be a valid replacement for morphine as per medical studies.

Side effects

Common side effects from Vicodin use are nausea, dizziness and stomach issues. In rare cases, patients have reported unusual fatigue, bleeding, decreased appetite, sweating and hot flashes.

Oxycodone can generate side effects as nausea, dizziness, headache, constipation, pruritus and dry mouth.

Percocet common side effects are dizziness, drowsiness and constipation.

Similarities and Differences

  • Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percocet are narcotic based analgesics containing an opioid element and paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percocet can be prescribed in cases of moderate to severe pain.
  • Common side effects associated with Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percocet use are nausea, dizziness and constipation.


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