Oxycodone vs. Dilaudid: The Differences (Which is Stronger)

Medically Reviewed

If you’re struggling with physical pain, your doctor might first suggest an over-the-counter remedy. This is the first tier of pain medication. If over-the-counter medication is not sufficient to reduce that pain, the next tier would be an opioid, likely to include oxycodone. This might be used to ease pain after an injury or minor surgery.

The third tier of medication also falls under the opioid category but is known as hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Hydromorphone actually works faster than morphine and is likely to be used in the event of a major injury or surgery.

Both Dilaudid and oxycodone are known for being effective in reducing pain. Which medication is appropriate should be decided by a doctor. Both medications also have addictive qualities, and the administration of these drugs should occur under the supervision of a doctor. Most side effects are held in common by Dilaudid and oxycodone.

Effects of Oxycodone Vs. Dilaudid

Oxycodone and Dilaudid were both created to assist in relieving pain that cannot be eased with over-the-counter medication. Oxycodone falls into the opioid category, as does Dilaudid. Dilaudid also falls into the subcategory hydromorphone. Dilaudid is actually the stronger drug, but there are several side effects that are consistent between the two medications.

Here is a list of side effects that Oxycodone and Dilaudid have in common:

  • Itching
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  •  Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Digestive problems
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • The potential for addiction

Oxycodone is more likely to present the patient with other typical side effects, such as rashes, while Dilaudid is known for making the patient sweaty and flushed upon use.

Which Drug is More Addictive?

Both oxycodone and Dilaudid have similar addictive qualities, and taking them can lead to dependence. While the effects of Dilaudid are stronger, particularly with someone who is not experiencing pain, it does not mean it is more addictive than oxycodone. Oxycodone works in the same way by blocking pain receptors in the brain, resulting in a euphoric feeling.

No one should try to stop taking either Dilaudid or oxycodone without consulting a doctor first. Chances are, a doctor will either taper the medication or substitute it with something less addictive. Stopping either medication immediately or cold turkey can result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Common symptoms of withdrawal from either medication include but are not limited to:

  • Restlessness
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Body pain
  • Dilated Pupils

If a doctor supervises the tapering or weaning off of these medications, you’re less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. If either drug has been used recreationally or in over-abundance, you may need to seek either an outpatient or residential treatment program to help get free from the bonds of addiction. The first step in these programs is medical detox, which eases you through the discomforting withdrawal symptoms.

Efficacy of Oxycodone Vs Dilaudid

Dilaudid is the stronger of the two medications, and its effects last longer. This drug is often chosen for someone who is in continuous pain, such as someone struggling with painful fibromyalgia or another chronic pain condition.

Oxycodone is known to be good for quick relief, so it is likely to be given to someone experiencing sporadic or acute pain. There are some differences based on the category each drug falls under- opioid and hydromorphone.

Opioids work by attaching to receptors in your brain. These receptors then send signals to the body to block pain and decrease breathing. A side effect of this process can be a feeling of euphoria. Opioids are known for completing this process quickly and producing fast relief to someone who may be in pain. If the person is not in pain, this results in a rapid transition into a euphoric state.

Still an opioid, but synthesized a little differently, the hydromorphone Dilaudid works faster than morphine.  Hydromorphone is also more potent. As we have stated, Dilaudid is stronger than comparable doses of oxycodone. While initial effects are comparable, the Dilaudid serves to ease pain longer than oxycodone.

How to Choose Which Drug Should Be Used

Your doctor is responsible for choosing which drug would be more appropriate. Generally, Dilaudid is used for more intense pain, such as the after-effects of major surgery. Medications are dispensed in a ladder effect, depending on the severity of your pain. The first step is to use over-the-counter medications. If those do not work, an opioid like a medication utilizing oxycodone is used.dilaudid-vs-oxycodone

Dilaudid or hydromorphone is at the top rung of the ladder. It is usually given to people who are in the most pain or the most continuous pain. If taken for an extended amount of time, Dilaudid can easily become addictive, and you may feel the need to use it to eliminate pain more often.

Oxycodone is more likely to be used for acute pain. On the second tier of the painkiller ladder, oxycodone is still a potent substance. It is known for eliminating or reducing pain quickly. If over-the-counter medications are not working to ease the pain from an injury or minor surgery, a doctor is likely to prescribe oxycodone.

Both oxycodone and Dilaudid come in pill and injection form. The dosage will differ, depending on whether you are using a pill or taking injections. Both drugs are also available in a time-release form. This type of drug is likely to be used after surgery, for someone in continuous pain. Regular doses might not serve to provide the relief a person in this state of pain could need.

Supervision Is Recommended

It is an unfortunate event when someone experiences enough pain for the need of prescription painkillers. A doctor should choose which painkiller is appropriate and which form of the painkiller should be used (regular or time-release). A doctor should also always supervise the use of these drugs, as there is the potential for side effects, and both have addictive qualities.

If you or a loved one has become dependent on either drug, there is help available. The long-term effects of overuse and dependence can be detrimental to your physical and perhaps even your mental health. Please know that there is nothing to be ashamed of with opioid addiction. These medications are addictive, and even if you’ve been taking your medication as prescribed, there is the potential that your body can become addicted to it.

However, with the right treatment, preferably under the care of an addiction specialist, you can become free from opioid addiction. Your first step is to admit that you’re struggling. The second is to reach out for help. Give us a call today and allow us to walk you through the various options for treatment.  You may choose between a variety of recovery paths, including residential treatment, outpatient treatment, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and more.

We’re here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out today.

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