Compare codeine vs. Oxycodone

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Codeine

Oxycontin
(Oxycodone)

Treats mild to moderate pain. Codeine works well for mild to moderate pain, but it may not be an great option for all people.Treats severe pain. Oxycontin (Oxycodone) provides options for treating both short and long-term moderate to severe pain, but no matter how long you take it, you’ll need to watch out for constipation.
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Reviews & ratings
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Reviews for Oxycontin (Oxycodone)
66%
+33% vs. Codeine
50%
17% vs. Codeine
19%
+48% vs. Codeine
Side effects
codeineOxycodone

We haven’t found good data for codeine side effects.

FDA side effect reports for codeine »
  • Drowsiness 19%
  • Constipation 16%
  • Nausea 12%
  • Itching 11%
  • Vomiting 5%
  • Dizziness 4%
  • Dry mouth 4%
  • Sweating 3%
More Oxycodone side effects »
How it works
codeineOxycodone
Codeine is an opiate agonist. It blocks pain receptors in the brain.Oxycontin (Oxycodone) is an opioid medicine (similar to morphine) that works in the brain to lower pain perception.
Type of medication
codeineOxycodone
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Available as
codeineOxycodone
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
codeineOxycodone
Risk factors for serious side effects
codeineOxycodone
  • Age 17 years or younger
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Taking longer than 4 weeks
  • History of drug abuse
Detailed Codeine risks & warnings »
  • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Higher dose
  • People with not enough thyroid hormones
  • History of lung problems
  • Children age 18 and younger
  • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Long-term use
  • History of drug abuse
  • Taking with alcohol
  • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Age 65 or greater
  • Age 65 years or older
      Detailed Oxycontin (Oxycodone) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      codeineOxycodone
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

      Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      • Can cause constipation, breathing problems, nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness. Don't drink alcohol with Codeine.
      • Dizziness and drowsiness is common. While taking this, it’s best to avoid alcohol.
      Food
      • Take with food or milk to help prevent upset stomach.
      • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      • Can cause constipation, breathing problems, nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness. Don't drink alcohol with Codeine.
      • It can cause drowsiness or sleepiness.
      • Dizziness and drowsiness is common. While taking this, it’s best to avoid alcohol.
      • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
      Upsides and benefits
      codeineOxycodone
      • Effective option for relieving mild to moderate pain that wasn't controlled by non-opioid medications.
      • Available as a generic in both tablets and oral solution.
      • Can be used for the short-term relief of a dry cough.
      • Oxycontin (Oxycodone) immediate-release (short acting) works best for “as needed” or “break-through” pain.
      • Long-acting tablets are good for chronic pain that requires around-the-clock relief.
      • Can have fewer side effects than other opioid pain relievers.
      • Generally considered to be stronger than morphine.
      Downsides and risks
      codeineOxycodone
      • Codeine is changed to an active form in the body by a liver enzyme. About 10% of people don't have this enzyme and don't get enough pain relief.
      • There are many drug interactions with Codeine, such as antidepressants. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new medicine or making any changes.
      • Other pain medications are more potent than Codeine.
      • It's possible to build a tolerance and become dependent on Codeine.
      • Can cause constipation, so you'll need to drink plenty of water or take a stool softener while on it.
      • Dizziness and drowsiness is common. While taking this, it’s best to avoid alcohol.
      • You’ll need to take the immediate-release for a few weeks before you can be switched to the long-acting formulation. It’s not safe to start taking the long-acting one if you've never taken an opioid pain medicine before.
      • Everyone will get constipation, so it’s best to stay hydrated and take a stool softener while on Oxycontin (Oxycodone).
      • Long-term use will likely cause physical dependence.
      • Need be weaned slowly off the medicine after using it longer than two weeks.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      codeineOxycodone
      • Takes about 30 to 60 minutes to start working and can last about 4 to 6 hours.
      • Can cause constipation, breathing problems, nausea, drowsiness, and dizziness. Don't drink alcohol with Codeine.
      • Take with food or milk to help prevent upset stomach.
      • It can cause drowsiness or sleepiness.
      • Codeine is activated in the body by enzymes in the liver. If you're taking other medications or have liver abnormalities, Codeine can be activated too fast and cause increased side effects.
      • Opioid pain medicine that provides longer pain relief—up to 12 hours.
      • Works best when taken regularly instead of as-needed.
      • Especially useful for people with chronic pain problems.
      • May not be the best choice for people who have never taken an opioid pain medicine because it lasts so long.
      • Swallow it whole. Don't crush, chew, or split the medicine.
      • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
      • Avoid activities that need you to be fully alert until you know how it affects you.
      • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
      • Constipation is common and may not go away while you're taking this medicine. Drinking lots of water and taking laxatives can help.
      • Talk to your doctor if it doesn't help enough for your pain, or if the side effects are really bad.
      Learn more
      More about codeineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about OxycodoneSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert