Compare Codeine vs. Oxycodone

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

Codeine

Prescription only

Oxycontin (Oxycodone)

Prescription only
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.

3.8/ 5 average rating with 1241 reviewsforOxycodone
Upsides
  • 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
  • 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.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
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1241 reviews so far
66%
saidit'sworth it
50%
saiditworked well
19%
saidit'sa big hassle

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Side effects
The Codeine FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
20possible side effects
  • Abdominal pain
    5%
  • Diarrhea
    5%
  • Dyspepsia
    5%
  • Gastritis
    5%
  • Chills
    5%
  • Fever
    5%
  • Anorexia
    5%
  • Twitching
    5%
  • Abnormal dreams
    5%
  • Anxiety
    5%
  • Confusion
    5%
  • Dysphoria
    5%
  • Euphoria
    5%
  • Insomnia
    5%
  • Nervousness
    5%
  • Thought abnormalities
    5%
  • Dyspnea
    5%
  • Hiccups
    5%
  • Rash
    5%
  • Postural hypotension
    5%
See more detailed side effects
Risks and risk factors
  • Serious breathing problems
    • Age 17 years or younger
  • Driving impairment
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
  • Low blood pressure
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Serotonin syndrome
    • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Tolerance and dependence
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Taking longer than 4 weeks
    • History of drug abuse
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Death from lack of oxygen to the body (respiratory depression)
    • 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
  • Death from overdose
    • Children age 18 and younger
  • Death in newborn babies from opioid withdrawal (Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome)
    • Long-term use during pregnancy
  • Tolerance, dependence, and addiction
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Long-term use
    • History of drug abuse
  • Driving impairment
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
    • Age 65 or greater
  • Low blood pressure
    • Age 65 years or older
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Death from overdose (oral concentrate)
See more detailed risks and warnings