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Medically Reviewed

Are there Significant Differences Between Percocet and Norco?

Percocet and Norco are medications prescribed to patients with moderate to moderately severe pain commonly associated with injury, surgery, or dental procedures. Although these painkillers may be used to treat similar conditions, there are a few small differences in their chemical composition and how they impact addiction.

Percocet vs. Norco

Percocet and Norco are both combination drugs that contain an opioid painkillers and acetaminophen (a pain reliever and fever reducer). This combination allows the drugs to effectively treat different types of pain simultaneously. The opioid found in Percocet is oxycodone, while in Norco is the opioid ingredient is hydrocodone. Published research indicates that Percocet and Norco treat pain equally.1-3

Percocet and Norco have half-lives of approximately 4 hours. Both drugs are used to treat the acute onset of pain and can be expected to provide pain relief for anywhere between 4-6 hours.

Taking Percocet or Norco can help you feel happy and relaxed. These drugs have similar common side effects that include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Euphoria

Studies have shown that Percocet is more likely to cause nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, and headache.2 Other research shows that people taking Norco experience constipation and stomach pain more frequently than people using Percocet.1 Both drugs depress the central nervous system and can lead to more serious side effects if taken at higher dosages. In a double-blind study, results concluded that a combination of oxycodone and ibuprofen caused the best pain relief with the fewest adverse effects.3 Overdose of either drug can result in dangerous symptoms that can include decreased breathing, low blood pressure, organ failure, and even death.

Addiction of Percocet and Norco

Percocet and Norco interact with opioid receptors in your body, altering the way you feel and respond to pain. Like other opioids, these drugs both have a high potential for abuse that can lead to addiction. Percocet is more powerful when compared to Norco. Not surprisingly, there is a higher risk of abuse with Percocet, as is generally the case with more potent opioids.4 As such, Percocet and Norco should only be taken as instructed by your doctor. You should take these drugs only for as long as they are prescribed, in the amounts prescribed, and no more frequently than prescribed.

Some of the common signs that someone has a dependence on opioids are:

  • Changing social groups
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Missing work or appointments
  • Hyperactivity
  • Being tired

Treatment Options

Addiction to Percocet or Norco should be treated with the assistance of substance abuse professionals. Due to the harmful physical and psychological symptoms you can experience during withdrawal, it is recommended to undergo detox in a medical facility or detox center where you will be safe and comfortable. Certain medications can be given to you during detox to help minimize cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, you will transition to a facility for rehab. Treatment programs commonly consist of individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, and alternative therapies. Behavioral therapy is often an important part of treatment and it will help you address the underlying causes of your abuse to Percocet or Norco. This will provide you with the coping tools needed to prevent future relapse. Aftercare treatment is also an important part of successful long-term recovery. You will also benefit from participation in addiction support groups, many of which hold meetings at local hospitals, places of worship, and community centers.

Sources

  1. Marco, C.A., Plewa, M.C., Buderer, N., Black, C., & Roberts, A. (2005). Comparison of oxycodone and hydrocodone for the treatment of acute pain associated with fractures: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Academic Emergency Medicine, 12(4), 282-288.
  2. Chang, A.K., Bijur, P.E., Holden, L., & Gallagher, E.J. (2015). Comparative analgesic efficacy of oxycodone/acetaminophen versus hydrocodone/acetaminophen for short-term pain management in adults following ED discharge. Academic Emergency Medicine. 22(11), 1254-1260.
  3. Litkowski, L.J., Christensen, S.E., Adamson, D.N., Van Dyke, T., Han, S.H., & Newman, K.B. (2005). Analgesic efficacy and tolerability of oxycodone 5 mg/ibuprofen 400 mg compared with those of oxycodone 5 mg/acetaminophen 325 mg and hydrocodone 7.5 mg/acetaminophen 500 mg in patients with moderate to severe postoperative pain: a randomized, double?blind, placebo?controlled, single?dose, parallel?group study in a dental pain model. Clinical Therapeutics, 27(4), 418–429.
  4. Zacny, J.P., & Gutierrez, S. (2009). Within-subject comparison of the psychopharmacological profiles of oral hydrocodone and oxycodone combination products in non-drug-abusing volunteers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 101(1-2), 107-114.
  5. American Society of Anesthesiologists. Opioid Abuse.
Last Updated on September 5, 2019
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