Oxycodone vs Codeine

Name: Oxycodone vs Codeine

Oxycodone vs. codeine

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxecta) and codeine are both narcotic pain relievers. Both are also used as cough suppressants similar to morphine and hydrocodone.
  • Oxycodone and codeine also cause sedation and drowsiness, and depress breathing.
  • Both drugs are available in generic form.
  • Both oxycodone and codeine are often available in forms combined with other non-narcotic pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin.
  • Similar side effects of oxycodone and codeine include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, itching, and rash.
  • Combining opioids such as oxycodone and codeine with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants may result in severe sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death.
  • Both oxycodone and codeine have potential for abuse and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms for both drugs include restlessness, watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, muscle pain, and dilated pupils.

What are oxycodone and codeine?

Oxycodone is a strong opioid (narcotic) pain reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone. The mechanism of action of oxycodone is not known but may involve stimulation of opioid receptors in the brain. Oxycodone decreases discomfort by increasing the tolerance to pain. Oxycodone also causes sedation and drowsiness, and depresses breathing.

Codeine is another narcotic pain-reliever and cough suppressant similar to morphine and hydrocodone. The mechanism of action of codeine is not known but codeine binds to receptors in the brain and increases tolerance to pain, decreasing discomfort, but the pain still is apparent to the patient. Codeine also causes sedation and drowsiness, and depresses breathing. Codeine is often combined with acetaminophen or aspirin for more effective pain relief.

What is the dosage of oxycodone vs. codeine?

Oxycodone dosage

  • The usual starting dose using immediate release oxycodone tablets is 5 to 30 mg every 4 to 6 hours. Patients who have never received opioids should start with 5-15 mg every 4 to 6 hours. Some patients may require 30 mg or more every 4 hours.
  • The usual starting dose using extended release tablets is 10 mg every 12 hours. Extended release tablets are used when around the clock treatment is required for an extended period of time. Extended release tablets should not be broken, crushed or chewed but should be swallowed whole. Braking, crushing or chewing extended release tablets may lead to rapid absorption of the drug and dangerous levels of oxycodone.
  • The 60 and 80 tablets or single doses greater than 40 mg should only be used by patients who have been using opioids and have become tolerant to opioid therapy. Administration of large doses to opioid-naïve patients may lead to profound depression of breathing.
  • The usual adult dose of the oral concentrate (20 mg/ml) is 5 mg every 6 hours.
  • The usual adult dose for the oral solution (5 mg/5 ml) is 10-30 mg every 4 hours.

Codeine dosage

  • The usual adult dose of codeine for pain is 15-60 mg every 4-6 hours as needed.
  • The dose for cough is 10 to 20 mg every 4-6 hours as needed.
  • The maximum dose for treating cough is 120 mg every 24 hours.

Are oxycodone or codeine safe to take if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Safety during pregnancy has not been established. Children born to mothers who were taking oxycodone for a prolonged period may exhibit respiratory depression or withdrawal symptoms.
  • Small amounts of oxycodone are secreted in breast milk and may cause side effects in the newborn.
  • Small amounts of codeine are secreted in breast milk, but the risk of adverse events in the infant is small.


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Reviewed on 9/14/2017 References FDA Prescribing Information