Hydrocodeine and codeine are both opiate pain relievers. There are many similarities between hydrocodeine vs. codeine and a few differences as well. While hydrocodeine is more addictive, it is possible to become addicted to either medication.
In the United States, about two million people are addicted to prescription opioids, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and methadone. These medications work by attaching to the same opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces pain signals. This can be helpful for people who are suffering from moderate to severe pain. However, these drugs can easily be abused.
If you or a loved one in the Tacoma area are battling an addiction to hydrocodeine, codeine, or other drugs, a Tacoma, Washington substance abuse treatment center can help.
What Is Codeine?
Codeine is generally used for mild to moderate pain relief. It is also used in cough syrup formulations combined with other drugs. Codeine is a compound in the opium plant, along with morphine and other substances. The main pain-relieving action of codeine is due to a small part of the drug being converted to morphine by the body.
Codeine is more effective for some people than others. It’s believed that this is due to how your body processes the drug. The liver metabolizes most of the codeine, and the brain and intestine metabolize the rest. It’s thought that differences in the number of certain liver enzymes are responsible for the differences in effectiveness between individuals.
It’s important to note that codeine carries a risk of respiratory depression and even death in some cases. This risk is much higher in children. According to health professionals, breastfeeding mothers shouldn’t take codeine. If the body doesn’t break it down correctly, too much codeine can pass to the baby.
Codeine has many drug interactions because the liver enzymes also break down many other drugs. Depending on their mechanism of action, these drugs can either intensify or negate the effects of codeine. There is little difference between hydrocodeine vs. codeine in drug interactions because the same liver enzymes metabolize them.
What Is Hydrocodeine?
Hydrocodeine is a semi-synthetic opioid because its chemical structure is not found in any naturally occurring opiate. It is twice as strong as codeine. Typically, it is recommended for moderate to severe pain. Its addiction potential is similar to that of morphine but less than oxycodone.
Differences Between Codeine and Hydrocodeine
The primary difference between codeine and hydrocodeine is potency, but there are a few other key distinctions, such as:
- Codeine is less potent than hydrocodeine. For example, 60 mg of codeine is approximately equivalent to 10 mg of hydrocodone.
- The second difference is that hydrocodeine has a higher risk of addiction. This is because it produces euphoria at lower doses than codeine. The euphoric effects are more likely to lead to abuse and addiction.
- The third difference is that hydrocodeine is available in extended-release formulations. This means that the effects of hydrocodeine last longer than codeine.
- Codeine is available in both oral and injectable formulations. Hydrocodeine is only available in oral formulations.
Dependence vs. Addiction
Physical dependence is not the same thing as addiction. You can become physically dependent but not suffer an actual addiction. In most cases, you’ll find addiction and physical dependence together. If you are dependent but not addicted, you may be able to taper your dose down over time to avoid withdrawal symptoms. However, addiction to the drug makes tapering extremely difficult. At Bayview Recovery, our addiction treatment programs help you every step of the way on the road to recovery.
Regarding hydrocodeine vs. codeine in terms of potency, codeine is approximately ten times less potent than morphine, with variations ranging from seven to 14 times less power. Hydrocodeine is approximately twice as strong as codeine, making it three to seven times less potent than morphine.
Prescriptions Can Cause Addiction
Drug addiction affects people from all walks of life. Often people begin the road to addiction with a legitimate prescription and need for pain relief and find themselves addicted due to the euphoric nature of the drugs. Doctors prescribed drugs also have a false sense of security:
“I can’t become addicted to this. My doctor gave it to me. It’s not like I’m buying drugs off the street.”
Get Help with a Hydrocodeine or Codeine Addiction in Tacoma, WA
If you are struggling with a codeine or hydrocodeine addiction, it is essential to get help. Many treatment options are available, and the sooner you get help, the better your chances of recovery.
If you are someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, reach out today at 855.478.3650 or contact us online. Help is available at our substance abuse treatment center in Tacoma, WA.
Dave Cundiff, MD, MPH is an experienced leader in the field of Substance Use Disorder treatment. He works with patients suffering from Substance Use Disorder to evaluate their medication needs and prescribe treatments accordingly. In addition, he regularly participates in all-staff debriefing sessions involving peers, nurses, and other prescribers. He also reviews and advises on policies, procedures, and techniques for treating substance use disorder.