Dilaudid and Oxycodone – A Guide to Differentiate the Painkillers

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

What Dilaudid And Oxycodone Are

Dilaudid and Oxycodone are both the group of potent opioids. They are prescription medication given to patients to relieve mild to severe pain. Dilaudid is the generic variant of hydromorphone hydrochloride. Also, the two most popular brand names for Oxycodone are OxyContin and Percocet.
Oxycodone was first introduced in the U.S. in 1939. However, it was not until 1996 that it gained mainstream popularity in the world of medicine. This was after Purdue Pharma started to manufacture it as OxyContin. On the other hand, Hydromorphone was first synthesized in 1924. And they introduced it to the public in 1926 under the brand name Dilaudid.

What are the similarities and differences between Dilaudid and Oxycodone?

Both of these two opioid substances share certain similarities. For example, both Dilaudid and Oxycodone are available in tablet and liquid forms. They also have extended-release forms, and roughly share the same therapeutic actions and side effects.
One of the main differences between these two drugs is that Dilaudid is more potent than Oxycodone. Dilaudid is often prescribed as a pain reliever to people who suffer from agonizing pain, like cancer. In addition, they also give it to patients who cannot get enough relief from milder painkillers such as Tylenol or Codeine. It is also a common prescription drug for pain triggered by surgery or broken bones. In any case, Hydromorphone hydrochloride is a better alternative to get immediate effects and administer a scheduled dosing. On the other hand, Dilaudid addiction signs develop faster and is relatively hard to treat.

Dilaudid And Oxycodone Side Effects

Oxycodone and hydromorphone have, more or less, the same side effects. However, bear in mind that Hydromorphone is more potent. As a result, its side effects may also be more intense. These side effects include:

  • shallow/light breathing
  • severe constipation, especially with extended-release forms
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness or lowered blood pressure
  • nausea
  • headache
  • mood changes
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • itching
  • skin rash
  • motor skill impairment

Other, less common side effects include:

  • painful urination
  • confusion
  • depression
  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • respiratory depression

Can Dilaudid and Oxycodone Be Prescribed Together?

Dilaudid and Oxycodone
Yes, Dilaudid and Oxycodone are two very potent, fast-acting prescription medications. However, in some cases, the doctor might see the need to prescribe both of them at the same time. Additionally, it is possible for the patient to develop tolerance to one or the other. This means he/she will need an increased dosage in order to achieve the pain-relieving effect. Even so, combining Dilaudid and Oxycodone can be very dangerous. This is why one should never try to do this on their own.

Dilaudid And Oxycodone Precautions

As mentioned, both Dilaudid and Oxycodone are very strong opioids. That means if not taken carefully can even have life-threatening repercussions. Naturally, this is why both of them are prescription drugs. This means one should never take these substances without medical supervision. Common drugs that may interact with Oxycodone and Dilaudid are:


  • Baclofen
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Levothyroxine
  • Lisinopril
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Metformin.
  • Neurontin (gabapentin)


  • Alprazolam
  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Aspirin
  • Baclofen
  • Clonazepam
  • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
  • Furosemide
  • Levothyroxine

Page Sources

  1. Satoshi Inoue, Yoji Saito, Satoru Tsuneto, Etsuko Aruga, Hiroshi Takahashi, Mitsutoshi Uemori. A randomized, double-blind, non-inferiority study of hydromorphone hydrochloride immediate-release tablets versus oxycodone hydrochloride immediate-release powder for cancer pain: efficacy and safety in Japanese cancer patients. Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2018 Jun; 48(6): 542–547. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974780/
  2. Sharon L. Walsh, Paul A. Nuzzo, Michelle R. Lofwall, Joseph R. Holtman, Jr. The Relative Abuse Liability of Oral Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone Assessed in Prescription Opioid Abusers. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 Dec 1; 98(3): 191–202. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2668197/

Published on: May 9th, 2017

Updated on: June 10th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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