Percocet vs Vicodin

Percocet and Vicodin provide relatively equal amounts of pain relief. But Percocet is way more expensive. More on similarities and differences in the face-off between Percocet vs Vicodin here.

minute read

Both Percocet and Vicodin are brand names for drugs which contain opioids and acetaminophen. Percocet’s active ingredient is oxycodone and Vicodin’s main active ingredient is hydrocodone. Both drugs are recognized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as having a current medical use …BUT both Vicodin and Percocet pose significant risk for developing drug addiction, and the effects of Vicodin and Percocet can be serious . We review the relative advantages of each medication here.

| Natural | Synthetic | Delivery | Efficacy | Withdrawal | DEA

P       no      yes      tablet       reliable      difficult      Schedule II

V      no       yes      tablet      reliable       difficult      Schedule III

Ready for help?
Call us today. You don’t need to face addiction on your own.

Natural or synthetic?

The main ingredients of Percocet and Vicodin are semi-synthetic narcotic analgesics whose main action is analgesia (pain relief). In real terms, this means that they are both created in laboratories, and although based on natural opiate derivatives, are not “natural”. Instead, their main ingredients, hydrocodone and oxycodone are classified as “opioid” drugs. Hydrocodone versus oxycodone?

PERCOCET = oxycodone hydrochloride + acetaminophen

VICODIN = hydrocodone bitartrate + acetaminophen


Both Percocet and Vicodin are taken orally as tablets.

Don’t let your loved one suffer.
Addiction responds to treatment. Call us to get started.


Both these narcotics are prescribed for pain relief. Percocet and Vicodin provide moderate to moderately severe pain relief but Vicodin has the benefit of addictional therapeutic uses and is also prescribed for cough suppression. Both medicines are effective for providing pain relief, however, Percocet may have a slight advantage in strength and intensity of analgesic effect. In other words, some people like Percocet better for pain relief. You can speak with your prescribing doctor about the relative merits and dosing for each of these pain medications.


Because both Vicodin and Percocet are brand name drugs, name recognition of these opioids is high. So, you might request them when you need a strong pain reliever. But there is no medical reason or need to buy these brand name drugs and they are available in generic form.

Questions about rehab?
Get confidential help day or night.
  • Access to top treatment centers
  • Compassionate guidance
  • Financial assistance options

Vicodin and Percocet are expensive when compared to generic alternatives. In fact, Vicodin costs on average about $180-$200 per month, while Percocet ranges from $400-$450 (depending on dose). Again, there is no reason to take the brand-name versions of any opioid, including Percocet, and Vicodin. Don’t get fooled by the name – ask your pharmacist for more information about generic alternatives.


Opioids like Percocet and Vicodin can produce non serious side effects such as drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, and vomiting … most of which may be relieved by laying down. Some people wonder,  “Can Vicodin cause hair loss?”  – No, clinical trials have not reported this effect… or “Is Vicodin 500 mg addictive?” – Yes, this dose can cause both physical dependence and mental characteristics of addiction.   But more even serious physical side effects are possible with Percocet and include:

Start your
recovery today.
  • apnea
  • circulatory depression
  • hypersensitivity reactions
  • hypotension
  • shock
  • slowed or stopped breathing

Additionally, long-term use of opioids has been linked to:

  • constipation
  • decline in immune function
  • decrease in sex hormones (testosterone)
  • feelings of euphoria and dysphoria
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • impaired sexual function
  • loss of interest in sex

Potential for abuse

Percocet is classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the DEA. Vicodin is a Schedule III narcotic. This means that U.S. law describes Percocet as having a higher potential for abuse than Vicodin.

Long-term use of opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet can lead to physical and/or psychological dependence on the drug. The risk of pain pill addiction is not known, but past drug or alcohol problems either you or your family, problems with anxiety, depression or other mental health disorders put you at greater risk of developing addiction.


People who have been through both Percocet and Vicodin withdrawal claim not to notice too much a different between the symptoms. Withdrawal from both Percocet and Vicodin can be painful, but getting the drugs out of your system is not life threatening. Safe withdrawal and detox is always completed under the supervision of a medical professional, because additional medications or interventions may help related symptoms, and you can know what’s normal from what’s not.

Got any more questions about Percocet or Vicodin? Fire away. We’ll be happy to help.

Reference sources: Consumer Reports on “Best buy drugs for opioids”
DEA scheduling for narcotics
MedHelp topic on “Codeine vs vicodin withdrawal”
NIDA drug pages on prescription drugs
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    1. Hi John. You have a great chance of testing positive for opiates if it’s a basic test. However, most drug tests will test for most substances separately, so if you are taking Vicodin you will come up positive for hydrocodone, which is different from oxycodone.

  1. Im sorry for asking this here, but can’t find info anywhere else and its very important I know this. I’ve had a dependence on vicodin (5 10mgs pills per day) for almost a year now, for chronic pain management. I just had a surgery a week ago to relieve my chronic pain (I’m sick of the medication and have had problems with addiction in the past). For my surgery i was prescribed percocet 10mg pills and have been taking about 5 pills a day for recovery, but no vicodin. Since the serious vicodin withdrawal symptoms should last for about a week, and percocet’s chemical compound is different than vicodin, does that mean ive broken my long-term vicodin addiction? Does this mean that im no longer addicted to vicodin if I’ve been taking percocet instead, for about as long as the vic withdrawals should have lasted? While taking the percocet this week, ive noticed slight symptoms of the vic withdrawal but its been dulled by the percocet. I just need to be off of pain medication, and the easier/faster the withdrawal the better.
    If you took the time to read this, thank you. I’m desperate for answers because i need to figure out med dosage to finally get well and sober. If you have any info I’d appreciate it very much!

    1. Hi Heath. I do believe the percocet is masking the vicoding withdrawal symptoms. Not masking them exactly, more like providing the same chemical compounds your body and brain have developed tolerance and dependence to, so you are not really detoxing. Once you start lowering percocet doses, you should experience more of the expected withdrawal effects. It’s best to taper yourself off slowly and gradually (your doctor or pharmacist can help you create a custom tapering schedule). Medications for lowering intensity of symptoms may be needed, but you should only be taking them for 1-2 weeks tops.

  2. How long will the percocets stay in my urine/ I have a test Friday and I took 2 today. Will it show in my urine test Friday?

    1. Hi Kay. Narcotic pain medications like Percocet don’t stay in the body very long. If you only took the 2 Percocets today, you are most likely to be safe because it can only be detected in urine for 1-2 days after a single use. But there are several factors that influence the detectability, such as the amount of Percocet your are taking, how long you’ve been using it, and your own personal metabolism.

  3. I refilled my prescription hyrdrocod/acets 5-325 mg. At a different pharmacy and the pills look different and they now make me nauseated. Why?

    1. Hi Ajbkr. Why don’t you visit the pharmacy that refilled your prescription and see if they made a mistake. It should never happen, but pharmacists are also human. The production company has not reported changing the appearance of their pills.

  4. All medications have an “onset” time and release rate – which means that the agents in the medication are released and affect the body at a specfied rate – each medication affects differently and at a different rate; thus some are long-lasting, some are quick-acting, etc.

    Vicodin is a quick-acting pain reliever that eases the sharp “spikey” pain. However if you crush them instead of swallow them, you’re disrupting the proposed onset and release rate – thus chances are you may feel a more sudden and quick metabolical change – but the relief will be more short lived.

    Take it as recommended for the best overall results. If it doesn’t take the edge off, speak to your presribing physician about this; perhaps theres a better alternative for what you need.

    Despite what someone said earlier: dont’ snort it. not a good idea.

  5. I have taken hydrocodone off and on for years. I have had several surgeries for different things, including tooth surgery. I have been given various pain medications and the only one that I know will work for sure, is hydrocodone.


I am ready to call
i Who Answers?