Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain, as well as a cough suppressant. It is primarily available in combination with other analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and is also available in syrup form for the treatment of coughs.

Hydrocodone is one of the most common prescription drugs used recreationally in the United States. Recreational use and abuse of hydrocodone is particularly prevalent among teenagers and young adults because of the drug's widespread availability. In studies, hydrocodone has been found to be stronger than codeine, though both drugs are listed as Schedule III in the United States. Most other opioid painkillers are listed under the stricter Schedule II list of drugs. That fact that hydrocodone is listed under the more relaxed standards of Schedule III drugs, combined with its stronger potency compared to codeine, may be the reason why it has such widespread availability.

Since most hydrocodone pill preparations contain acetaminophen as well, addicts and abusers who consume large doses of hydrocodone face the danger of liver problems due to consuming excessive amounts of acetaminophen. Abusers of codeine encounter the same problem and use a cold water extraction to remove the large amounts of acetaminophen, leaving only the desired codeine behind. The same process can be used on hydrocodone preparations, allowing access to large amounts of hydrocodone that would be otherwise not accessible without the risk of liver damage or death.

Brand Names

Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Vicoprofen, Hycodan, Lorcet, Anexsia, Ceta Plus, Co-Gesic, Dolorex, Hycet, Maxidone, Novahistex, Stagesic, Zydone

Street Names

Vikes, hydros, Norco, 357's


  • Vicodin - tablet, 5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 500 mg acetaminophen
  • Vicodin ES - tablet, 7.5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 750 mg acetaminophen
  • Vicodin HP - tablet, 10 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 660 mg acetaminophen
  • Lortab - tablet, 7.5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 500 mg acetaminophen
  • Norco 7.5/325 - tablet, 7.5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 325 mg acetaminophen
  • Norco 10/325 - tablet, 10 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 325 mg acetaminophen
  • Vicoprofin - tablet, 7.5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 200 mg ibuprofen
  • Hycodan - cough syrup, 5 mg hydrocodone bitartrate, 1.5 mg homatropine methylbromide / teaspoon (5mL)

Medical Uses

  • treatment of moderate-severe pain
  • suppression of cough; especially due to bronchitis

Route of Administration

oral, intranasal, rectal


4-6 h

Medical Dosage

  • moderate-severe pain: 10 to 20 mg oral every 4 h
  • cough suppressant: 5 to 10 mg oral every 4 h as needed; up to 20 mg oral before bed for cough relief (bronchitis)


  • Products which contain less than 15 mg hydrocodone per dosage unit are Schedule III in the United States (almost all hydrocodone is prescribed in Schedule III dose units)
  • Hydrocodone is a Schedule I drug in Canada, requiring a prescription.
  • In most countries outside of North America, a prescription is required to purchase hydrocodone.



  • Schumacher MA, Basbaum AI, Way WL, Opioid Analgesics & Antagonists (Chapter 31) in: Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. 12e. Katzung BG, Masters SB, Trevor AJ (Editors). McGraw-Hill / Lange, 2012.
  • Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain. United States Department of Veterans Affairs / Department of Defense, May 2010. [PDF]
  • Controlled Substances - Alphabetical Order. DEA Office of Diversion Control, May 2013. [PDF]
  • Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Minister of Justice, Canada, Nov 2012. [PDF]
  • Classification of controlled drugs - National systems in the EU and Norway. European Monitoring Centers for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Jan 2012.

Related Pages

  • Hydrocodone Medication Identification
    A list of imprints on hydrocodone medicines with images and details including dosages, manufacturer, shape, and color.
  • Hydromorphone
    Hydromorphone is a potent semi-synthetic opioid analgesic that is thought to be 6 to 8 times stronger than morphine. Read about hydromorphone brand names, street names, formulations, medical uses, chemistry, legality, and other information.
  • Oxycodone
    Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic that is widely prescribed for the relief pain, and the drug in the popular medication OxyContin. Read about oxycodone brand names, street names, formulations, medical uses, chemistry, legality, and other information.
  • Effects of Opioids
    An in-depth look at the both the short- and long-term effects of opioids, and the possible long-term effects of injection drug use.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Additional calls will also be forwarded and returned by a quality treatment center within the USA.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by a licensed drug and alcohol rehab facility, a paid advertiser on OpiateAddictionResource.com.

All calls are private and confidential.