Vicodin Vs. Percocet: A Comprehensive Comparison


Discover the key differences between Vicodin vs. Percocet, explore their addiction risks, and make an informed choice with this comprehensive guide.

Vicodin vs. Percocet: how do these two medications compare? Both are commonly prescribed pain relievers with key differences in composition, potency, and availability, and understanding these distinctions is crucial for individuals seeking effective pain management while minimizing the risk of addiction.

From their varying opioid components to dosage strengths and side effects, both medications offers unique benefits and considerations. Whether you're recovering from surgery, managing chronic pain, or facing cancer-related discomfort, knowing the nuances between Vicodin and Percocet can guide you towards informed decisions for your health and well-being.

Learn more about how these two medications compare, as well as their addictive potential. And if you or a loved one have found yourself dependent on prescription medications, call The Forge Recovery Center for professional support.

Vicodin Vs. Percocet: Key Differences

Vicodin and Percocet are both prescribed pain relievers, but they have some key differences in composition, potency, and more. Here’s a rundown of the differences between these two prescription medications:


Vicodin comprises hydrocodone & acetaminophen as active components. Whereas Percocet contains oxycodone & acetaminophen. The opioid component of the two drugs differs. This might result in varied effects and strengths.


Percocet is said to be somewhat stronger than Vicodin. The opioid component of Percocet, oxycodone, is often stronger than the opioid component of Vicodin, hydrocodone.

Dosage Strength

Percocet comes in a wider variety of dose strengths than Vicodin. This enables doctors to more accurately adjust the dose to an individual's pain needs.


Percocet is offered in immediate-release and extended-release, with distinct durations of pain relief. Vicodin, on the other hand, is only available in immediate-release form.

Prescribing Regulations

Opioid prescription rules have gotten increasingly strict in recent years. Because of the increased hydrocodone concentration of Vicodin, prescription has decreased, but Percocet has remained more routinely prescribed.

Side Effects

Although both medications have similar potential side effects as opioids, individual experiences may vary. Some individuals may find one medication more tolerable or encounter different side effects than others.

What Is Vicodin?

Vicodi is a commonly prescribed opioid medication used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It contains two active ingredients: hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever, and acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain and fever reducer. Hydrocodone works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing pain signals. Acetaminophen enhances the pain-relieving effects of hydrocodone and reduces fever.

What Is Vicodin Used For?

Vicodin is a versatile medication used for post-operative pain, chronic pain management, acute pain relief, cancer-related pain, palliative care, and emergency situations. It can also be considered for non-responsive pain when other treatments have not been effective. Here’s an overview of its medical uses:

Post-Operative Pain Control

Vicodin is commonly administered following surgical operations. These include dental or orthopedic surgery to reduce pain and discomfort during recovery.

Chronic Pain Management

Vicodin is frequently used to treat chronic pain problems. These include arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, and nerve damage. It can help lower the intensity of chronic or long-term pain. Thus improving the quality of life for those who suffer from these conditions.

Acute Pain Relief

Vicodin can be recommended to treat acute pain caused by injuries, fractures, or severe muscular strains. During the healing and recovery process, it can provide brief comfort.

Vicodin is occasionally used to treat pain associated with cancer. It can help relieve the pain produced by the disease or by cancer therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Palliative Care

Vicodin can be administered in palliative care. This is to provide comfort and pain relief for those with terminal diseases or nearing their lives end. It can assist in enhancing the quality of life by lowering pain and making living more pleasant.

Pain Management in Emergency Situations

Vicodin can be given in an emergency to offer quick pain relief for severe trauma, kidney stones, or other acute painful conditions.

Non-Responsive Pain

Vicodin can be considered an alternative to relieve people experiencing non-responsive pain in some circumstances when other pain management methods or medications have not been helpful.

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Vicodin Side Effects

Common Vicodin side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, itching, and respiratory depression. These effects can impact daily activities, and require attention to minimize discomfort or risks.


Drowsiness or sedation is one of the most typical Vicodin side effects. It can make you sleepy, tired, or less alert. This effect can affect the ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform jobs that need focus.


It can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. This can affect the balance and increase the risk of falling or being involved in an accident.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some people can experience nausea or vomiting. Taking the medication with food or adjusting the dosage may help lessen these side effects.


Vicodin can cause constipation, a typical side effect of opioid medications. Increasing fluid intake, including dietary fiber, and discussing the use of stool softeners or laxatives with the doctor can help control this side effect.

Dry Mouth

It can result in a dry mouth. This can cause pain or raise the risk of dental problems. This symptom can be reduced by staying hydrated and exercising proper dental hygiene.

Itching or Rash

While using Vicodin, some people can develop itching or a skin rash. It is necessary to get medical assistance if one develops a severe or recurring rash.

Respiratory Depression

It can cause respiratory depression when used in excessive dosages or by those particularly sensitive to opioids. Misuse, greater dosages, or when taken with other medications that depress the respiratory system, such as alcohol or certain sedatives, increase the likelihood of this happening.

How Long Does Vicodin Stay In Your System?

How long Vicodin stays in your system might vary based on various factors, including individual circumstances and the testing method employed. Let’s explore the typical timeline for Vicodin detection in different testing procedures:


Vicodin can be found in urine for 2 to 4 days following the previous dosage. Individual characteristics, such as metabolism, hydration, and frequency of usage, might, however, impact the detection window.


Vicodin is detectable in blood for a shorter amount of time than it is in urine. It is usually detectable for roughly 24 hours following the previous dose. Blood tests are frequently employed in particular scenarios, such as medical crises or drug-related investigations.


Vicodin can be found in saliva for 12 to 36 hours after use. Saliva tests are less common, although they may be utilized in specific situations like workplace or roadways drug testing.


Vicodin can be discovered in hair follicle tests for longer than other testing methods. It can be detected in hair for up to 90 days after the last use because hair records a history of drug usage over time. Hair tests, on the contrary, are less popular and more costly than other testing procedures.

What Is Percocet?

Percocet is a medication that is used to help people manage pain. It belongs to a family of drugs known as opioids. Percocet is a pain reliever that can be prescribed by a doctor.

It has two active components, oxycodone & acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a powerful pain reliever that helps lower your body's pain sensation. Acetaminophen is a drug that can help with fever reduction & pain relief.

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What Is Percocet Used For?

Percocet is commonly used to manage pain after surgery, trauma, and chronic pain conditions like arthritis. It’s also effective in treating cancer-related pain, offering relief from the discomfort caused by the disease or its treatments. Here’s a quick overview of its prescription uses:

Pain Management After Surgery

Percocet may be recommended to relieve pain following surgical procedures such as dental surgery or orthopedic surgery. The combination of oxycodone & acetaminophen relieves pain & discomfort at the surgical site.

Trauma or Acute Injury

Percocet can be beneficial in relieving acute pain caused by accidents, fractures, or severe muscular strains. The oxycodone component targets pain receptors in the brain & spinal cord. While the acetaminophen component helps relieve inflammation and fever caused by injury.

Managing Chronic Pain

Individuals suffering from chronic pain disorders such as arthritis or neuropathy may be administered Percocet to ease their discomfort. By treating both pain signals in the body and lowering inflammation, the combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen can give more comprehensive relief.

Pain Associated With Cancer

Percocet is also used to treat pain associated with cancer. It can help relieve pain caused by the disease or by treatments for cancer, such as surgery or chemotherapy. The combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen relieves cancer-related pain.

Percocet Side Effects

Percocet, like Vicodin, can produce similar side effects due to its shared opioid component (oxycodone) and the potential side effects of acetaminophen. Here are some common side effects that can be observed with Percocet, which can overlap with the side effects of Vicodin:

  • Drowsiness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Respiratory depression

  • Itching or Rash

  • Liver Toxicity

How Long Does Percocet Stay In Your System?

Percocet's duration in your system varies depending on individual characteristics and the testing technique. Here’s an overview of expected detection times.


Percocet can be detected in urine for about 1 to 3 days.


Percocet is detectable in blood for approximately 24 hours.


Percocet can be detected in saliva for around 1 to 4 days.


Percocet may be detectable in hair follicle tests for up to 90 days.

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Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions, provide guidance, and schedule an initial assessment. Let us help you determine if our programs are the right fit to meet your needs.


Vicodin Vs. Percocet: Addiction Potential

Both Vicodin and Percocet have a high risk of dependency if misused or taken irresponsibly. Vicodin contains hydrocodone, a powerful opioid that can lead to physical and psychological dependence with prolonged use. Similarly, Percocet contains oxycodone, another potent opioid that can also be habit-forming if not taken as prescribed. Both medications have the potential to cause tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects, increasing the risk of addiction.

Misuse of Vicodin and Percocet can result in serious consequences, including addiction and overdose. Taking these medications in higher doses than prescribed or for longer periods can lead to a cycle of dependency that is difficult to break. Individuals who misuse Vicodin and Percocet may experience cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and a compulsive need to continue using the drugs despite negative consequences. Knowing this, it’s crucial to follow your prescription guidelines carefully and seek help if you are struggling with substance abuse issues related to these medications.

Vicodin Vs. Percocet: Understanding the Differences

As you now know, Vicodin and Percocet are both potent pain relievers with distinct compositions, potencies, dosage strengths, availability, and prescribing regulations. While Vicodin contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen, Percocet contains oxycodone and acetaminophen, making it somewhat stronger. Both medications have similar side effects, with individual experiences varying, and understanding the differences between these two medications can help you make informed decisions about your pain management needs.

Struggling with a Prescription Medication Addiction? We Can Help.

Understanding the differences between Vicodin and Percocet is vital for making informed decisions about pain management, especially for those in recovery. Both medications have their uses, but also carry significant risks of addiction and dependence.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to these or any other substances, The Forge Recovery Center is here to help. Our comprehensive treatment programs and dedicated support can guide you toward a healthier, addiction-free life. Reach out to us today to start your journey to recovery and regain control over your future.

Are You Struggling with Mental Health or Addiction?

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CALL: 877-839-1772

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 4, 2024