Dilaudid and oxycodone are both drugs that belong to the opioid drug class. Both Dilaudid and oxycodone are prescribed to treat moderate to severe acute pain. They are usually given in a hospital setting, but they are sometimes prescribed by primary care physicians. From the early 2000s until recently, they were prescribed much more often and, unfortunately, much more carelessly, contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic.
What Is Dilaudid?
Dilaudid is a common brand name for the opioid drug hydromorphone. It is indicated to treat moderate to severe acute pain, such as after surgery or broken bones, and chronic cancer-related pain.
Dilaudid may be consumed orally as a pill or injected intravenously, into a muscle, or under the skin. Once taken, effects usually onset in about 15-30 minutes and last for 4-5 hours. It has a half-life of between 2-3 hours and takes 15-18 hours to be completely cleared from the body.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is an opioid drug commonly sold under the brand names Roxicodone, OxyContin, and Percocet. It is sometimes combined with the over-the-counter pain-relieving and fever-reducing medication acetaminophen, and is also used to treat moderate to severe pain.
Oxycodone is usually taken orally as a pill or under the tongue as an oral solution. Once taken, effects onset in 10-30 minutes and last 3-6 hours for immediate-release formulations and 10-12 hours for controlled-release formulations. The half-life of oxycodone is between 2-5 hours, depending on the formulation. It takes the body 24-30 hours to eliminate it fully.
Dilaudid vs Oxycodone: Similarities and Differences
Both Dilaudid and oxycodone are categorized as Schedule II controlled narcotics by the DEA. This designation means they have a high risk for abuse and may lead to severe physical or psychological dependence. Unlike Dilaudid, oxycodone is not approved by the FDA in the United States for intravenous, intramuscular, or subcutaneous use.
Oxycodone and Dilaudid are both semi-synthetic opioids, meaning they were derived in a lab from naturally-occurring opiates, like morphine or codeine. Other common semi-synthetic opioids include hydrocodone, oxymorphone, and the illicit drug heroin.
Comparing the relative strength of Dilaudid vs oxycodone, Dilaudid is around 3-4 times more potent. This means a 5 mg dose of Dilaudid is roughly equal to a 15-20 mg dose of oxycodone. Because Dilaudid is more potent, it tends to result in sedation more often. But, at equivalent dosage strengths, oxycodone tends to produce physical side effects more frequently overall.
Both drugs are used for acute pain in and out of hospital settings and chronic cancer pain. Still, oxycodone is prescribed more often by primary care physicians for acute pain and less often for chronic pain than Dilaudid. All around, Dilaudid and oxycodone are very similar substances, though Dilaudid is more potent, and the prescribing practices and formulations differ.
Dilaudid vs Oxycodone: Abuse and Effects
As Schedule II drugs, Dilaudid and oxycodone have a high potential for abuse. Substance abuse occurs when someone uses a prescription drug in higher doses than prescribed, via an unapproved route of administration (such as injecting or snorting), in combination with another substance, or takes a drug without a prescription. Abuse of a drug can enhance effects, but it also increases the frequency of side effects and dramatically increases the risk of overdose.
The effects and side effects of Dilaudid and oxycodone are almost identical and may include the following:
- Chronic constipation
- Cough suppression
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of happiness
- Heart palpitations
- Impaired motor skills
- Low blood pressure
- Mental fogginess
- Mood swings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful urination
- Rapid pulse
- Reduction in pain
- Skin rash
- Slowed or labored breathing
- Uncontrollable movements
Dilaudid vs Oxycodone: Dependence and Withdrawal
When an individual takes a substance for an extended length of time, they can become physically dependent on it. This occurs when their body stops producing its own version of the chemicals that the drug produces, relying instead on the substance. If the individual then attempts to quit or cut back, they will experience painful and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms, while rarely fatal, can be absolutely miserable. As such, opioid-dependent individuals often continually relapse in order to avoid suffering through these symptoms. Once drug use begins to cause detrimental consequences but the individual can’t quit, they are stuck in a full-blown addiction.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with Dilaudid or oxycodone discontinuation include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive yawning
- Extreme depression
- Goosebumps on skin
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Muscle and joint aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Runny nose
- Stomach aches
- Teary eyes
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Abuse of Dilaudid or oxycodone is dangerous and can lead to dependence and addiction. Opioid addiction can be a lifelong battle that breaks the user down and ruins their life. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, please get help today.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment programs. Our professional staff employs evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, relapse prevention, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, and more.