Comparing Hydromorphone vs Oxycodone: What’s the Difference?

This article will explore in detail everything you need to understand everything about hydromorphone vs oxycodone.

Overview of Hydromorphone

To understand the comparison and contrast between hydromorphone vs oxycodone, we should first learn what they are, their uses, and how to choose the best one for you. Hydromorphone is a potent opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is also known by its brand name, Dilaudid. The drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system, which can lead to feelings of euphoria, pain relief, and relaxation.

Hydromorphone is typically prescribed in a tablet or injectable form, and it is often used for pain management following surgery or for chronic pain conditions such as cancer or arthritis. It is also used in palliative care to relieve pain in terminally ill patients. Hydromorphone is only prescribed when other treatment options fail.1

Hydromorphone vs Oxycodone

Is Hydromorphone Addictive?

Hydromorphone is a highly addictive drug and can lead to physical and psychological dependence with prolonged use. Because of the opioid crisis in the US, the prescriptions dispensed for hydromorphone have decreased drastically from 3.8 million prescriptions in 2012 to 2.7 million prescriptions in 2018.2

Quitting the medication without medical supervision may lead to withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening.

Overview of Oxycodone

Oxycodone is another potent opioid medication used to manage moderate to severe pain. It is often sold under medically prescribed brand names, such as Tylox, Percodan, and OxyContin. Like hydromorphone, oxycodone binds to opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system to relieve pain and produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Oxycodone is typically prescribed in tablet form and is commonly used for pain management after surgery, as well as for chronic pain conditions such as cancer or arthritis. It may also be prescribed for short-term pain relief, usually three days or fewer. Short-term pain can include bodily injuries or dental procedures.

Is Oxycodone Addictive?

Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug and can lead to physical and psychological dependence with prolonged use. It is important to take oxycodone only as prescribed by a healthcare professional and to never share the medication with others. Abruptly stopping oxycodone use can lead to withdrawal symptoms which can sometimes be fatal.3

Comparisons: Hydromorphone vs Oxycodone

There are many similarities between hydromorphone vs oxycodone. Below is a comprehensive comparison list between them, which include the following:


Hydromorphone and oxycodone are both opioid analgesics that are classified as Schedule II controlled substances in the United States. They are used to manage moderate to severe pain but have a high potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose, especially when misused or in high doses.

Mechanism of Action

Both hydromorphone and oxycodone work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing the sensation of pain.

Dosage Forms

Both hydromorphone and oxycodone are available in pill form, but hydromorphone also comes in extended-release pills, liquid, and suppository forms, while oxycodone also comes in an oral solution.

Side Effects

Both hydromorphone and oxycodone can cause common opioid side effects, such as constipation, drowsiness, nausea, pruritus, and vomiting. However, hydromorphone may cause more severe side effects than oxycodone, such as respiratory depression, sedation, and confusion.

Additionally, common side effects of hydromorphone include difficulty having a bowel movement, difficulty with moving, joint pain, and muscle pain or stiffness.

Risk of Addiction and Overdose

Due to their high potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose, hydromorphone vs oxycodone should be used with caution and only as prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Precautions and Contraindications

Patients with respiratory depression, liver or kidney disease, or a history of drug abuse or addiction should use hydromorphone and oxycodone with caution. Alcohol consumption should be avoided while taking either medication.4

Choosing One

When it comes to choosing between hydromorphone vs oxycodone, there are several factors that should be considered. These include the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and any other medications or health conditions they may have.

Consider Patient History

Patients with a history of substance abuse or addiction may not be suitable candidates for either of these drugs. Patients with liver or kidney disease, respiratory problems, or a history of seizures may also need to avoid these medications or use them with caution.

Consider Pain Management

Additionally, patients with certain types of pain may be better suited for one medication over the other. It is important to only take these medications under medical supervision.
The healthcare practitioner will carefully monitor the patient’s response to the medication and adjust the dosage as needed to minimize side effects and risks.

Consider Alternatives

For patients who may not be suitable for hydromorphone vs oxycodone, there are alternative pain management options available. These may include non-opioid medications such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, nerve blocks, or other non-invasive treatments.

Treatment for Addiction

Hydromorphone and oxycodone are powerful opioid painkillers that are commonly prescribed to manage severe pain. However, these medications are highly addictive and can lead to physical dependence and substance use disorder.

Opportunities for Wellness

Here are some of the treatment options available:
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using medications to help manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduce cravings. The medicines usually used are opioid agonists, meaning they activate the same receptors in the brain as hydromorphone vs oxycodone, but with a milder effect, preventing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapy is a key component of treatment for hydromorphone and oxycodone addiction. It helps individuals identify and change the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions contributing to drug use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that is commonly used in addiction treatment.
  • Support Services: Support services such as 12-step programs, group therapy, and individual counseling can also help treat hydromorphone vs oxycodone addiction. These services provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to share their experiences, learn from others, and build a strong support network.
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation: Inpatient rehabilitation involves staying at a residential facility for a while to receive intensive addiction treatment. Inpatient rehabilitation typically involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and support services.
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation: Outpatient rehabilitation allows individuals to receive treatment while living at home. It also involves a combination of different therapies. It can benefit individuals with mild to moderate addiction who have a strong support network at home.
Hydromorphone vs Oxycodone

Essence and Hydromorphone vs Oxycodone Addiction

At Essence Healthcare, we offer a comprehensive approach to hydromorphone vs oxycodone addiction treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the disease at hand. We are committed to helping patients recover from any kind of substance addiction.

We offer a variety of treatment options, including individual therapy, group support, various forms of medication-assisted treatment, and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.

Personalized Treatment

We tailor a program that suits the needs of every individual. Our strategies are designed to prevent relapse. Our staff is highly trained and experienced in helping patients overcome their addictions and live happier, healthier lives.

Find Sustainable Healing at Essence Healthcare

Addiction is a treatable disease. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, including hydromorphone vs oxycodone, reach out to us for help, and we’ll get you started on treatment. Our team is committed to providing the highest level of care and non-judgmental support.

Together, we can overcome addiction and build a brighter, healthier future. Contact us today. We can’t wait to meet you!

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.